Years before developer Naughty Dog started treasuring hunting with Nathan Drake and the Uncharted series, they brought gamers a funny tale of two friends, Jak and Daxter, and their adventures through four main games on the PS2 and two spinoffs. Now, Sony has enlisted developer Mass Media Inc. to give us an HD collection that consists of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II, and Jak 3. The games were incredible when they first released, but can they stand the test of time?
The first title in the collection is Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Released back in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, The Precursor Legacy introduced gamers to Jak and his best friend Daxter, who we find out are no stranger to breaking the rules. As the two sneak off to Misty Island, they get into all kinds of trouble and Daxter is transformed by Dark Eco into a hybrid of an otter and weasel. The two are now on a mission to find the Sage of Dark Eco who can change Daxter back into his old body. The game takes place in the village of Sandover and it’s outlining areas, as the two of you battle monsters, collect precursor orbs, and the all important power cells. Jak is able to double jump, use two different attacks and has some serious dance moves when he does discover a power cell.
Next up is Jak II, which released back 2003, also for the PlayStation 2. The second game picks up right after the events of the first, in a city called Haven City. Here the world is under the control of Baron Paraxis and Jak and Daxter have just broken out of jail and are looking for a way out of Haven City. Jak II sees some big changes from the original, as now you are equipped with various guns, such as the blaster and scatter gun. The game adds in vehicle control as you can hover around the city in Back to the Future II style and brings in Dark Jak, a dark side to Jak that has been unlocked after many experiments performed by the Baron. When you transform to Dark Jak, you have new abilities that you can use and unlock throughout the game.
Lastly we have Jak 3, again for the PlayStation 2, which released a year later in 2004. It has been about 300 years since Jak and Daxter fought in New Haven and takes place in Spargus City and a vast desert. Characters from Jak II make an appearance here in the game and so do many of the gameplay changes, but are expanded here. There are two more weapon types and now there is a Light Jak to counter the Dark Jak, very Star Wars like. There are also different kinds of vehicles in the game this time around, like sand buggies and yoshi-looking creatures.
Each of the games present a good mix of platforming, vehicle racing, and material collecting. The platforming still holds up today, with plenty of different missions to complete, and a good bit of variety to the levels. The characters are well fleshed out, with great dialogue and voice work complimenting a fun and exciting story. It is easy to see after playing this collection why the Uncharted series and developer Naughty Dog are the definition of top-notch. The first game suffers from not having subtitle options but thankfully, for me at least, the 2nd and 3rd remedy this.
All of the titles in the collection have full trophy support with each game receiving its very own platinum trophy, making this a great buy for those trophy lovers out there. The games look great in high definition (considering their age, and obviously cannot compete with current-gen games) and the gameplay makes a smooth transition, though it is not without hiccups. The camera angles are absolutely terrible, with things becoming very rigid in close quarters and the camera never seeming to do what you want it to do. The jumping mechanic also feels very sticky, leaving for plenty of frustrating moments where you swear you have double jumped but the game refuses to agree. These issues can be overlooked however as the comedy is still hilarious and the games are extremely addicting and fun to play. The HD revamp also includes 3D support, which is solid, but doesn’t add much to the game.
In the end, The Jak and Daxter Collection is yet another successful trek into the world of High Definition Collections being released on the PlayStation 3. It is a bit frustrating to not have the entire series added in, especially Lost Frontier from the PSP, but the set does not lose anything by just having the first three games. Aspects of the series also feel dated, but that is really the only bad thing you can say about this collection, which is a testament to the quality of the original games. Both newcomers to the series and those who have played every game will find yourself enthralled with the great voice work and laugh out loud comedy of these classic games.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Jak and Daxter Look Good in HD
– Things like jumping and the troublesome camera feel dated