Jak and Daxter Collection (PS3)
Back in 2002 Naughty Dog released Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and with it a new platforming duo was unleashed upon the world. This was of course nothing new as Mario and Luigi, Sonic and Tails along with so many others who didn't quite live up to the same standards have graced our consoles and PC's before.
For Naughty Dog though they found themselves in with the former duo's and since then we have seen two proper sequels as well as appearances in various other games... including Move Heroes
which we looked at in December.
Now 10 years on from the release of the original Jak and Daxter for PlayStation 2 we have a re-release of that classic along with Jak 2 and Jak 3, all grouped in a nice single disc package. This isn't just a straight port though this is the latest batch of titles to get a HD makeover and extra features.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy takes us back to 2002 where we are introduced to the two main characters via a cut-scene, the first of hundreds in this trilogy, with this one voiced by Samos the Sage. In this we find that it is Jak who is special in this game world, though he doesn't yet know it and as a result of disobedience on the duo's part events swing into motion that take us into the adventure. The first of which is Daxters unfortunate fall into Dark Eco, an event which transforms his body to that of an animal.
Although the plot points towards us trying to transform Daxter back into his normal humanoid form we are essentially trying to save the world and ourselves from the forces of evil.
Controls are the standard left thumb to move, right stick to adjust the camera and buttons to perform actions. X for example jumps, Square and Circle attack (both using Daxter as an aid) and the left shoulder crouches. Combine Crouch and roll for longer jumps, double X for higher and the controls evolve from there.
Mixed in with the 3D platforming gameplay are collectables, usually within boxes or from dead enemies, with our aim initially to gather enough power orbs to move on. Eco is another collectable which starts with green for energy and blue to power up, running faster for example.
With this being a collection of games which have been released over time we also have a clear evolution of the gameplay style. On both sequels we start where we left off on the last, introduced in the tutorial to our full moves and going as far in the third game as gaining weapons and modifications right away... Dark Eco also comes into play a lot more. A common plot is also playing out during the games with the sequels directly following on from what has come before and building the game universe as it goes.
Added to the games are PlayStation Network features, Trophies which are awarded as we go.
Graphics and Audio
Jak and Daxter is 10 years old now and while it has had a HD makeover, like the other two games now supporting 720p and stereoscopic 3D, it has dated quite a big graphically. That said the cartoon esq graphic have helped it age reasonably well and so it is still perfectly acceptable to play though. Jak 2 looks noticeably better as the world received a significant jump in detail with Jak 3 impressing a lot with very good image quality, character animations and lots of world detail.
The audio remains strong throughout the three games with the voice acting excellent from scene one as far as the main characters are concerned. Daxter is very much over the top and carries the game for large portions of the cut scenes with normal gameplay offering decent environmental effects and weapon noises.
The first thing which need said about the Jak and Daxter Collection is that player should not skip directly to the second or third games. They immediately catch us up to the past events, spoilers/recaps, and would ruin some of the enjoyment experienced when playing through the first games.
That said it is also worth starting with the original title because it introduces us slowly to the Jak universe and basic controls. In doing so we see a gradual expansion of the gameplay and this is one of the key aspects which makes the Jak and Daxter Collection a success. There is none of the messing about, removing significant power ups/gameplay tweaks from earlier games so we start lower powered in game 2-3. Essentially the Jak in part 2 is significantly more powerful than the original and the same again for part 3 to the point that within 5-10 minutes of the third game starting we already have taken on over 20 enemies in a royal rumble esq battle and end up with two guns at our disposal.
A strong plot is also woven through the games and this is driven on by a huge number of cut scenes, over a hundred in part 2 and between two and three hundred by the time we get to Jak 3. Often funny and almost always entertaining these are well worth watching but be warned, this may look like a cartoon-ish kids game... it's not. Younger players will probably have fun with early parts of The Precursor Legacy but Jak 2 is a much darker game right from the outset.
The remastering has worked well for all three games and although there is some slowdown here and there, for the most part the games are bright, colourful and Jak 3 impresses the most with some great detail in cut-scenes are well as actual gameplay. 3D aficionados will be pleased to see support here also but the addition of trophies as we progress is a simple add-on that doesn't add much to the games.
The three games also play well with the characters responsive, controls intuitive and environments varied and interesting. Rarely will a player find themselves lost and there are plenty of collectables to be found along the way for those who like to explore (yes there is a percentage complete total for each game).
Although the original Jak and Daxter hasn't aged well it still offers fun gameplay and an entertaining story. The sequels build on those strong foundations and by the time we get to Jak 3 the visuals are a match for the gameplay. Three quality titles for a budget price, great stuff.