This seems like a massive oversight, particularly when considered in the context of the camera. As is the case in many PSP platformers, the camera in The Lost Frontier sometimes struggles to keep up with Jak or point in the direction of the action. While you're just wandering around this is quickly remedied by tapping the shoulder buttons to centre the camera behind Jak. But that's not always so easy to do when you're in an arena combat situation, coming under fire from all sides, or trying to shoot while simultaneously dodging attacks.
In these instances the camera often fails to act intelligently and the absence of a lock-on feature means you're left exposed, firing blindly at an area you can't see in the hope you might hit something by accident. This sort of thing doesn't happen all the time so it's not enough to completely ruin the combat experience, but it should really have been sorted out.
At least the planes you get to fly have proper targeting systems. As Jak's taken to hanging out with sky pirates lately, a good proportion of the game takes place in the air. There are epic dogfights to battle through and tricky missions to complete, such as shooting out all the turrets on a giant ship while under attack from waves of fighters. The planes handle well, barrel-rolling and turning 180s with ease, and there's a Crimson Skies feel to the whole thing. There are five planes to unlock in total and you can upgrade them by trading in scrap metal you've collected during missions, adding extra armour or new guns and so on.
As the game goes on the flying sections do start to become repetitive. "Epic" starts to feel more like plain old "long" as you take on yet another flurry of fighters following the same old flight path. Still, the upgrade system goes some way to keeping things interesting and despite the fact they sometimes feel protracted, the dogfights do make a change from all that running and jumping.
Perhaps the best thing about the flying sections is that sometimes they allow you to use Daxter as a living grappling hook, which involves flinging him at an enemy ship while he squeals in fear. If you're not a fan of Jak's wisecracking, finger-clicking, makes-you-want-to-pull-your-own-eardrums-out-with-a-crochet-hook-ing sidekick, this will appeal.
You might be less impressed by the levels where you get to play as Daxter himself, or rather his new alter ego. When dosed up with purple Eco he mutates into Dark Daxter - think The Hulk with spikes down his back and fur all over. Dark Daxter can fire balls of energy, throw things and smash stuff. Best of all he can whip himself up into a hairy tornado, then spin around bashing enemies and battering down doors.
But overall, the Dark Daxter sections don't add a great deal to the game. They feel shoehorned in and quickly become repetitive. Once the novelty of the tornado move wears off, you're left with some pretty unimaginative level design and the feeling that you've seen all this somewhere before. Several thousand times.
Luckily, the rest of the game is good enough to keep you playing so you can get back to running and jumping and shooting down planes. Putting the Dark Daxter levels to one side, The Lost Frontier is an excellent example of the genre. It's also a great addition to the Jak series, combining the classic platforming elements of the first game with the weapons-based combat of later instalments - and throwing in some fun new superpowers to boot. With a better camera and the addition of a targeting system, it would have been even better.
As it is, Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier is one of the best platformers available for PSP (the other ones being LittleBigPlanet and the three-year-old Daxter). It also stands as evidence that there's life in the old Naughty Dog series yet. Any chance of a Jak game for PS3 then?
8 / 10