A game design rant follows, in a cut for those not interested:
I've just been playing Jak II which was one of the most critically acclaimed games of last year.
However, despite being a massive fan of the original, I've now pretty much given up on this sequel in disgust.
So what's the problem? The problem is that it is way too hard. So far I haven't been actually stuck at any point, but I've had many moments of extreme frustration. I consider myself a fairly experienced gamer, and I was concerned that if I was struggling, many people would have difficulty progressing. Indeed, I've been watching leathellin attempting the game and having serious problems with some of the parts.
The game is also highly linear, which means that if you are stuck on a mission, then you really are stuck and generally can't progress in the game. At least with Viewtiful Joe (another recent very hard game) you will gradually upgrade your character as you retry a section so it will get easier.
This is a problem that the games reviewers seem to have glossed over, probably because they are very good at games. To give them credit, gamespot do say "Some of the missions can be maddeningly difficult".
I generally like challenging games, but a mass market game should not be literally unplayable for a significant number of players.
The other problem is that part of the reason that I think that it has been designed to be this hard is to disguise the fact that it is extremely short. Even with the seemingly endless repeating of missions (I think I'm averaging 5 or so attempts per mission), I'm over half way through the game in eight hours or so.
Add to this the way that the designers tried to make the city section a rather poor Grand Theft Auto clone leads me to think that this is one of the biggest gaming disapointments of the last year.
It could have been so much better, and does have some really nice bits. For example some of the cutscenes are hilarious, and there are a few interesting original puzzles.