Game: Jak and Daxter Trilogy
Developer: Naughty Dog/Mass Media Inc.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3 Only
When Sony started remaking a lot of their old PlayStation 2 successes in glorious HD, people started fantasizing about which of their games would be next in line for the upgrade. Out of all of the games that were mentioned you can pretty much guarantee that the Jak and Daxter series of games would come up. It is no secret that Naughty Dog clearly knew how to make a franchise work and with them busy at work on Uncharted and now The Last of Us it’s also probably fair to say that we’re not going to see a new game in the series any time soon. Until that time hopefully comes around we’ve got the original three games, remastered and re-released in HD, 3D and anything you can think of that ends in ‘D’. Was it worth the wait or is it just something to keep the fans from going on about a new game all the time?
STORY: Naughty Dog have always been a company that pride themselves on the strength of their storylines, even with the Crash Bandicoot games to a certain extent. The Jak and Daxter series of games were no different, and while they have a lighter tone than something like Uncharted, it’s by no means any less entertaining. The story starts as it means to go on, with our duo disobeying something the they were specifically told not to do by Samos the Sage; go to the Misty Island. Since they’re already on the island they may as well have a look around though right? Wrong! Things go from bad to worse as Jak discovers he can effect the Precursor artefacts in some strange way and Daxter accidentally gets knocked into a pit full of Dark Eco, turning him from a relatively normal (and I use that in its loosest term) person into a strange animal-esque creature known as an ottsel; a cross between an otter and a weasel. The story is as good as we all remember it being, it isn’t deep or thoughtful but it is bright and humorous.
GRAPHICS: If you played the Jak and Daxter games when they first came out for the PlayStation 2 then you already know what you’re getting yourself into, sure this new collection is in glorious high definition, and some of the textures have been reworked to support the new HD visuals, but all of the characters still look the same as you remember them being and have low polygon models. That’s not a bad thing though, a lot of people find the characters of games of this era charming, mostly because developers were forced to make you like their characters because of their personalities, not because they used more polygons in their eyelid than some games do in an entire game.
Not only has the Jak and Daxter Trilogy been upgraded to high definition but – providing you’ve got a TV that’s capable of it – you can play through the entire trilogy in 3D. it is functional but it’s by no means some of the best examples of gaming in 3D, in fact, in some instances, I even found it more difficult to overcome some of the platforming elements while playing the game in 3D.
SOUND: While there is plenty of music in Jax and Daxter, a lot of it being rather impressive too, the most impressive auditory aspects of the game are with the voice acting. Daxter is one of the most charismatic characters to ever grace the gaming world, his humour alone will keep people playing. This is also the reason why the third game in the series, simply titled Jak III, isn’t the best; without Daxter the series just falls a little flat. Jak himself doesn’t talk at all until the second game so Daxter has to hold up the entire game, trying to keep players interested in the story, as well as the characters, enough to keep playing; and he does a fantastic job of it too with some of his one-liners being literally laugh out loud funny.
A lot of older games got by on their sound effects, and a little bit on their score, generally not focussing so much on the voice acting (with a few notable exceptions, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Metal Gear Solid come to mind), however, games started to change in the mid to late 90s and the gaming world is all the better for it. Jak and Daxter was one of the games that paved the way. It’s easy to lose track of that in the gaming world we have now, where we’re so used to having everything voice acted.
GAMEPLAY: The main gameplay elements are extremely reminiscent of the other popular Naughty Dog franchise, and the one that preceded Jak and Daxter; Crash Bandicoot. In Jak and Daxter your main objective is to collect Power Cells to power various things that you’re going to need while you’re travelling through the world. These Power Cells aren’t just going to be given to you for no reason at all though and you’re going to have to work for them. This usually comes in the form of trying to find them in the world, either in hidden places or somewhere that might be particularly difficult to reach. But there are other ways of obtaining those elusive Power Cells, for example you may find a villager who has a Power Cell but will only give it to you if you perform a certain task for them, or buy the Power Cell off of them by giving them Precursor Orbs, which are egg shaped collectibles that you’ll find littered around the world.
There’s no doubt about it that collecting items just to trade them in and doing menial tasks for random people around the world sounds like something which could get really old, really quickly, but Naughty Dog manages to weave the story into these little quests so that the player will actually think that they’re providing a service to these people, as if they’re actually making a difference in the world. Not to mention the difference that they will end up making once you collect all of the Power Cells that you need. A lot of the tasks that you will end up doing that could otherwise feel like a chore are punctuated by Daxter saying something witty or hilarious, so those moments where you can almost feel yourself getting bored are lifted by the hilarity that comes from your little orange Ottsel friend.
The second and third games in the series are much different from the first and draw closer comparisons to games such as Ratchet and Clank. A lot more emphasis is placed on shooting enemies and collecting Dark Eco. The story has also changed to a much more darker one in order to reflect this change in gameplay. For most people, what it will boil down to is that while all of the games in the collection are great to own, the first game in the series is much more suited to people who enjoyed the Crash Bandicoot series, while the second and third games are for the people who really felt at home with the Ratchet and Clank series of games. If you find a huge amount of enjoyment in both of these franchises then you’re going to love Jak and Daxter.
LONGEVITY: As with all of the HD collections that have been released so far, there’s a massive amount of gameplay for the amount of money that you’ll be spending. The Jak and Daxter Trilogy has all three games and just those alone will take most players upwards of 25 hours to complete, that’s before you even start thinking about all the trophies that have been added to all three of the games now and all of the little side missions that you’ll be able to busy yourself with while you make your way towards the end of each game. There’s no doubt about it, theres a lot of game here and thanks to the charm and humour of the game you won’t be able to stop yourself playing it repeatedly over the years to come.
VERDICT: If you’re a fan of the Jak and Daxter games and have been holding your breath, hoping that Naughty Dog will bring out a fourth entry into the series, then you may as well exhale and go out and buy this HD collection. It’s the best you’re going to be getting for a while. The HD upgrade isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as we’ve already seen in games such as the God of War Collection. That being said, nothing has been taken away from the Jak and Daxter that we all know and love.
You’ll have many hours of enjoyment with this collection, if you’ve never played a game in this particular series before, or have just been in the mood to replay them, then you owe it to yourself to get this collection.