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Retrospective: Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy • Page 2

The one that isn't Ratchet & Clank.

And of course the similarities with the Ratchet & Clank series extend far further. Naughty Dog and R&C's Insomniac shared a building, and have always existed in friendly rivalry. When Naughty Dog was making Crash Bandicoot, Insomniac was making the PlayStation's other enormous colourful platformer, Spyro.

Then came R&C and J&D for a few years. And then as Naughty Dog put out the Uncharted series, Insomniac was working on Resistance. Clearly slightly more divergent, there's no doubting they're two of the major players in the PS3 market. I would like to see them fight.

But why do I put Ratchet & Clank ahead? There are a few reasons. Jak & Daxter is undoubtedly the more ingeniously laid out game, and far more generous in the freedom it offers. But it makes a few mistakes that tinge this with a hint of frustration.

While I absolutely love the lack of weapons and equippable items in J&D - instead focusing on the two main melee attacks and occasional bonuses from the ecos - its execution of the combat feels a little wayward.

It is mostly, I think, due to the fixed camera angle. If it would only tilt upwards ever so slightly, the game would be transformed. But as it is, and forces it to be, the shallow angle makes it remarkably difficult to judge distances accurately. This makes using melee a little hit or miss (I made a joke there), and of course can make platform jumping sometimes horrendous.

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He's angry because he knows his waistcoat will never button up again.

Its militant controls are idiotically not possible to change at all, meaning there's no way to invert the camera's X or Y axis, let alone reassign buttons. What a strange, strange oversight. But most of all, and this is getting into personal territory here, the double jump is so messed up.

Double jumps are important. They make a statement that I adore. That is: this is a game. Unashamedly, unrealistically, about having fun. Once a character can jump, and then midway through that jump, jump again, you've abandoned nonsensical goals of realism and accurate physics and all the other curses on our cartoon platforming, and embraced the importance of fun. But you still have to get it right.

The perfect double jump lets you execute the second leap at any point before you land/fall. This means you can either use them for height, by jumping again at the absolute apex, or for distance, by riskily leaving it until the last second of the arc. It's a pleasure, a dreamlike wonder. But Jak & Daxter's second leap is a shambles.

You have to execute it before some ambiguous midpoint, which is nightmarish to judge thanks to the aforementioned low camera. And missing means plummeting. While the game's checkpoints are extremely generous, it can often lead to niggling repeats of the same sections over and over. It's not fair to offer half a double jump. It's mean.

And while the story is obviously of minimal importance, there's no doubt that Ratchet & Clank's daft tale is more entertaining than Jak & Daxter's forgettable narrative. So forgettable, in fact, that I was playing it this morning and I've already forgotten.

While Ratchet was insufferable in the first R&C game, that's still more interesting than the complete nothingness of Jak. The voice acting in both is absolutely superb, and Max Casella's Daxter is perfect (and especially exciting when you learn that he's the same guy who played Vinnie in Dougie Howser MD!)

Both are brilliant games. Both are gorgeous, funny and deeply imaginative. We really don't need to continue the wars about it. Can we all just live in peace? But the Ratchet & Clank people are definitely right, and are better.

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