Jak and Daxter Collection Review
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The games aren't perfect, however, for the most part, they withstand the test of time quite well. Looking incredible in HD, this is a great way to experience these benchmark PS2 titles.
- Jak 2 & 3 look stellar in HD
- Cut-scenes are always a blast to watch
- Great blend of platforming, action, exploration and vehicles
- Uneven difficulty spikes
- Some aspects of gameplay just don't hold up
- The first two games often feature annoying checkpointing
This home console generation’s jump from standard-definition to high-definition not only changed the way we enjoy gaming, it brought with it the opportunity to experience some of the classics in a brand-new light. For the most part, I think HD remasters are great; they give gamers a chance to play any high-profile games they might have missed, with more shine than they’ve ever had, all for a budget price. And when reviewing HD collections, it boils down to two things: how good do the games in question look in high-def, and how well have they withstood the test of time?
The Jak and Daxter games revolve around the two protagonists – fittingly named “Jak” and “Daxter” – as they take on whatever comes their way in order to do what they think is right. That’s actually one of my favorite aspects of the Jak games, as Naughty Dog chose to place the two characters in the moral grey zone, especially in the latter two games. It’s not always about what’s right, or what’s ethical, it’s about what’ll get the two out of trouble at the moment; kind of like Aladdin and his pet monkey, Abu. It suits the more serious, surprisingly violent world of the Jak games.
At the beginning of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Daxter is accidentally transformed into the furry little brat we know him to be. Being what I always thought was one of the most iconic PlayStation 2 mascots, Daxter brings the comedic relief to the series, and he brings it hard. Even taking into account all the diabolical plans, lies, deceit, murder and general up-to-no-goodness of the villains in the series, the whole thing feels like a playable Saturday morning cartoon, a compliment much credited to Daxter’s character alone.
After all these years, the writing is still fresh, witty and entertaining, especially towards the third game in the trilogy. Sometimes I smiled, sometimes I even laughed out loud, which, given how unfunny most video games that try to be comedic are, is one of the highest praises I can give the cut-scenes and dialogue in these games.
Starting with the first Jak, which is a pretty drastically different game than the second and third, I was able to see first-hand just how far Naughty Dog has come since their Crash Bandicoot days. And just like Crash Bandicoot, the first game in the trilogy has, well, a few issues. First off, Jak 1 doesn’t look nearly as good as the second or third games, which is understandable since it was one of the earlier PlayStation 2 titles. However, what’s not as understandable is the control over the camera, or lack thereof. I cannot tell you how many times I had to sit there and watch the camera try to reposition itself for a few seconds so that I could actually see Jak on-screen again. Even when the camera is “normal,” there are still a bunch of times where I missed jumps and ledges because the camera angle was totally working against me. And boy, did I die a lot.
You go through the game collecting “power cells” from everyone and anyone. It’s the reward for literally every quest in the game, and they’re even scattered across the world for you to collect. In Jak 1, you don’t really know what you’re collecting them for, or even why, you just do it. Mix in some annoying checkpoints, a story that doesn’t exactly achieve outstanding originality, and some poor vehicle segments and you’ve got a few reasons to see the first Jak game as a little bit of a tough pill to swallow. It’s not all bad though, because, like I said, the writing is good throughout the series, and Jak 1 has arguably the best (and, in my opinion, most memorable) level design out of all three games. If this is your first time playing it, you’ll enjoy the game; you just won’t love it too much.
Jak 2 takes things to a whole new level, both figuratively and literally, as the series formula switched from a “point A to point B” world, to a city hub that you end up questing in throughout the whole game: Haven City. Among some of the major changes to the series at this point is the clear jump in ... (continued on next page)
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