The Jak and Daxter Trilogy - PS3 Review
|8/3/2012||Sony||Sony||Naughty Dog (original)|
Mass Media (PS3)
Thereís little doubt the Jak and Daxter series was one of, if not the, best series released on the PS2. Given the rash of HD remakes hitting the PS3 in the past year it comes as no surprise that Jak and Daxter is getting a HD remake of its own. Though the games were originally released from 2001 to 2004 it would take a particularly bad port to make these games anything less than great even now, and the good news is Mass Mediaís port is anything but bad. In fact itís just about perfect so whether youíve played the games before or are new to the series, thereís plenty of reason to pick up this release.
|Characters in Jak & Daxter are superbly designed, animated, and voiced.|
As the name implies you get all three Jak and Daxter games in this trilogy; Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II: Renegade and Jak 3. I wonít jump ahead and spoil the story of the second and third games, but the story of The Precursor Legacy goes like this. While exploring ancient ruins on a forbidden island off the coast, your best friend Daxter, is knocked into a vat of Dark Eco; a terrifying and deadly substance that could corrupt the world forever. This transforms him into an Ottsel (a weasel-like rodent) and the village sage, Samos Hagai, suggests there may only be one person capable of transforming Daxter back. Now, Jak and Daxter must set out on a quest in search of a wise old sage with the power to restore Daxter to his former self. What starts as a simple journey soon becomes an epic adventure full of exploration, drama and discovery.
While The Precursor Legacy is an out and out platformer, Jak II and Jak 3 focus more on vehicles, racing and gunplay than they do platforming. Although the gameplay focus shifts between the games, Jakís move-set stays is the same in each of them. Jak can roll, jump, double-jump and jump extra high depending on the situation he faces. There is no shortage of enemies standing in Jakís way and to dispose of them he can perform a spinning attack, a jumping attack from his roll or jump on their head Mario-style. In the later games Jak gains access to dark and light eco powers; dark eco enables him to wipe out groups of enemies with minimal effort, while light eco lets Jak heal himself or sprout wings temporarily.
|Platforming action in Jak & Daxter Trilogy.|
Along with a more mature storyline Jak II and Jak 3 brings gunplay to the action. Having been thrust five-hundred years into the future the enemies Jak faces are significantly tougher, and thus require more effort to Ďpacifyí. Jak II adds four guns to help with the pacification, and while Jak 3 also has four guns they have multiple attachments that make them behave in new and interesting ways, like making the bullets ricochet or home in on their target. Although parents might cringe at the idea of guns in a game that younger kids will enjoy, the on-screen action is not overly violent Ė there is no blood in sight, and fallen enemies simply disappear from the screen, making it about as kid-friendly as guns can be.
The significantly larger game worlds of Jak II and Jak 3 would be a pain to navigate with just your feet so youíll be pleased to know you can hijack vehicles to move around faster, as well as use a hoverboard ala Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Jak 3 adds a much wider variety of vehicles for travel in the desert wasteland outside Haven City, all of which can shoot and jump to some degree or other. Both games feature plenty of races, some of which are extremely challenging, in fact younger players may find them too challenging, particularly in Jak II.
|Vehicles are present in Jak II and Jak 3.|
Whichever of the three games youíre playing there is no shortage of collectibles to, well, collect. Precursor orbs are a recurring theme across the whole series, and at various other times youíll be on the lookout for power cells, scout flies and metal head skull gems. Completionists will have fits trying to find everything, and while all three games are big enough already, if you feel compelled to find everything youíre going to be busy for a very long time indeed.
Given this is a direct port of the three games, the issues they had when they were released are still intact here. The Precursor Legacy has a couple of unique issues, namely there are no subtitles or in-game tutorial, both of which weíve grown accustomed to now. The camera is an issue across all three games and youíll find yourself fighting it more often than youíd like. Many deaths can be laid at the feet of the suspect camera, though on the plus side death isnít a major issue as you have an unlimited number of lives, but the camera is one area where this trilogy shows its age.
The difficulty of Jak II is another issue Ė at times it is significantly tougher than either of the other two games, to the point where some younger players may not be able to progress without help. Another issue that arises in Jak II is the size of the map. Although a bigger game world is appreciated youíll soon get bored of traveling from one side of the map to the other with little to do in between. The inability to aim your gun is an issue in both Jak II and Jak 3, but I found it far more frustrating in Jak 3. I lost count of the number of times I died because Jak wouldnít aim at enemyís right in front of him. Luckily later in the game you get a weapon mod that adds homing bullets which pretty much eliminates this problem.
|Looks like someone is in a bit of trouble.|
Graphically the games still hold up today, though what was breathtaking seven or more years ago is now rather standard. Back in 2001 Dave raved about the 4000 polygons on display in The Precursor Legacy, and nearly wept with joy at the 15,000 in Jak II, and while the characters still move well and look good even today, weíve come a long way since these games were originally released. One standout feature is the draw-distance, which is impressive in each of the games. The game worlds are big, but the trade-off is limited texture detailing and while that was barely noticeable back then, itís quite noticeable today. Itís totally understandable given the age of the games and the lesser processing power of the PS2, but as I say what seemed jaw-dropping once is now standard stuff. Itís all very colourful and runs at a solid frame-rate throughout though, so youíre not likely to complain much. Thereís 3D support for all three games too, and while it will never compare to something like Avatar itís still good fun to play this way.
Aurally all three games are solid, but like the graphics it can no longer be considered cutting edge. The voice-acting is excellent, aided by a clever and often funny script, the cast brings life to the characters in a way that enhances the overall experience. The music is fine and suits the games well, but it didnít blow me away by any means. Meanwhile the sound effects grew a bit tiresome after a while. Itís probably unfair to say that given weíre playing three games in one, but the sound effects in Jak 3 actually started to grate on me by the end of the game, and thatís never a good sign.
|Jak & Daxter has wonderful cut-scenes.|
Iíve probably spent a little too long dwelling on what this trilogy is not, rather than what it is, the cracks that time has begun to reveal rather than the quality that shines through even now, some eleven years after The Precursor Legacy hit the shelves. The reality is that each of the three games is still a lot of fun to play, and while none of the games is as jaw-droppingly awesome as they were when they first came out, the quality gameplay endures. There are minor issues in each of the games, but nothing so significant to stop you from having a blast with them. Whether youíve played them before or are Jak and Daxter virgins this trilogy comes highly recommended and is one of the most worthy games to receive a HD remake so far.
Review By: Mike Allison
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|GRAPHICS||Itís been over a decade since the first game was released and itís starting to show. Not a patch on modern day games, but still decent enough.||70%|
|SOUND||The voice-acting is still great, while the music and sound effects are decent but not spectacular.||75%|
|GAMEPLAY||Aside from the imperfect camera and the occasional difficulty spike, these games are as fun today as they were when released.||84%|
|VALUE||Around forty hours to complete all three games, and much longer if you want to collect everything. Now with trophy support!||88%|
|OVERALL||While the visuals and audio show signs of age the gameplay is nearly timeless. Itís great fun for people of all ages and well worth picking up.||82%|