Jak and Daxter HD Collection Review
Developer: Naughty Dog, Mass Media Inc.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE)
North American Release Date: February 7, 2012
European Release Date: February 22, 2012
Trophies: YesJak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy: 1 | 4 | 12 | 22
Jak II: 1 | 4 | 10 | 26
Jak 3: 1 | 3 | 9| 34
The Jak and Daxter HD Collection brings together one of the Playstation 2’s most memorable and epic duos on one blu-ray disc. This trilogy of games encompasses an adventure that spans hundreds of years and ultimately involves forces from beyond the world itself.
In TPL there were five different types of eco known to the world: green eco (restores health), blue eco (supercharges Jak with energy), red eco (makes Jak stronger), yellow eco (allows Jak to shoot energy blasts) and dark eco (dangerous). Each of the 4 (minus dark eco) had easy to understand applications that did not need a long and boring tutorial to understand. You see box that you can’t punch through – use yellow eco to blast it to pieces. An enemy has a shield that you are too weak to destroy – use red eco. The uses were practical and easy to understand.
Jak II did away with using 4 different types of eco and condensed it down to two types: green eco for health and dark eco for Dark Jak powers. But Naughty Dog did not just forget about the other types of eco. In a very shrewd way they managed to incorporate blue, red and yellow eco into the different types of mods that Jak uses for his Morph Gun. The Scatter Gun which functions as a short-ranged shotgun and is very powerful took the place of red eco, the long range Blaster took the place of yellow eco, and the quick firing and rapid Vulcan Fury replaced blue eco. Jak 3 expanded slightly on the Morph Gun by allowing different functions to be applied to each of the four mod sections, allowing you to customize your gameplay even further. By allowing a total of 12 different mods (up from 4 in Jak II), everyone is able to fight to the play-style that they prefer.
If Jak II took away from us the chance to use eco as weapons, it gave back to us tenfold with Dark Jak. Dark Jak is the result of Jak being subjected to two years of dark eco experiments and is very powerful and very deadly. In order to access the ability to become Dark Jak outside of story-driven events, you must go out and collect dark eco pellets scattered throughout the world. While these may have been deadly to Jak in TPL, they are now the source of power for Dark Jak. Jak 3, on the other hand, in order to balance out Dark Jak, introduces Light Jak. This Jak (if you guessed correctly) has the ability to use light eco defensively such as clapping his hands to briefly stop time and creating wings of light eco to both fly and glide.
Something that has always played a role in the Jak and Daxter series are vehicles. TPL introduced us to the idea with Kiera's homemade Zoomer, Jak II gave us three different types of hover cars, racecars, and Jet Boards, and finally Jak 3 had us drive gun-totting dune buggies across the Wastelands. In each iteration of the Jak and Daxter series, Naughty Dog expanded on the ideas and concepts of the previous games in order to make the next game a whole new experience.
Who knew that Jak and Daxter takes place in England...
What I didn't like was that while the Zoomer in The Precursor Legacy was easy to handle and drive in, the mechanics of the vehicles in Jak II and Jak 3 were a lot harder to handle. Take for instance, simple turning. I could be driving and while attempting a turn, crash several times into a wall simply because the hover car has the turning radius of a lead weight. Basically in Jak II the controls for the hover cars feel very awkward and sometimes it seems as if they are either barely responding to my controls or they are too sensitive.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, the game that began the trilogy, opens with a cutscene showing Daxter having an accidental exposure to dark eco–the most dangerous substance in the world. In order to get back to normal, he and Jak take the advice of the Green Eco Sage Samus and begin their adventure by making their way north in order to find the only person that has a shot of reversing what was done to Daxter. Soon after beginning their journey however, they stumble upon a plot to remake the world in a madman’s image and are forced to race against time before he unleashes a tidal wave of dark eco upon an unsuspecting world.
Jak II starts off a few weeks after the end of TPL. In the time after defeating Gol and Maia, Keira had managed to transport and reassemble an ancient Precursor technology known as a ‘rift gate’ as well as the ship needed to carry them through. Upon opening the gate, thousands upon thousands of beasts known as Metal Heads and their leader stream through. Thinking quickly, Jak forces the ship to travel through the rift gate where everyone is separated and he is quickly captured and subjected to brutal and inhuman experimentation.
It takes two years before Daxter is able to find and free Jak from the prison. However, all the experiments done to him using dark eco have created an alter ego known as ‘Dark Jak’ which Jak has difficulty controlling. Fleeing the prison, Jak and Daxter come across an old man named Kor and a young boy. After the Krimzon Guards arrive and Jak fends them off, Kor promises to bring Jak to the underground resistance and its’ leader, the Shadow, who he says can help him get his revenge on Baron Praxis.
Jak angry at living conditions...
The final game in the trilogy begins a shortly after the end of Jak II. In order to settle the unrest throughout Haven City following the death of the Metal Head Leader, Jak has been banished to the Wastelands and left to die. Instead of dying, he is found by the leader of the town of Spargus, Damas, who sees in him great potential and offers to make him a citizen if he could prove his worth in the harsh environment
Eventually making his way back to Haven City, Jak is caught in a three-way fight for the city between the new Freedom League, the old Krimzon Guards, and the Metal Heads. After helping to secure the city, Jak must prepare himself for the return of the Dark Makers, an ancient evil that is on their way to the planet.
The Jak and Daxter trilogy had storylines that followed the basic premise each time: the game starts with Jak and Daxter being thrown into a new environment or situation and have to either go after or seek the help of a certain being. Once they are in reach of the goal however, something always happens that exposes a new and grander plot that they have to try and stop. Don’t take my sarcasm and criticism as a sign that Jak and Daxter are not worth playing. I take solace in the fact that Naughty Dog, rather then trying to create a new plot-style for each game, simply decided to stick to what worked. In all honesty, I enjoyed trying to figure out what was the plot twist in each game and would make guesses as to who would try and betray me at some point (I lost a lot of times, which speaks highly for the plot).
Jak and Daxter: TPL was first released in 2001 and it shows its age. While it may have been updated to 720p and 3D support, it is impossible to hide exactly how old the game is. Do not, however, take this to mean that the game is bad or boring. On the contrary, the controls are solid. While some of the mechanics may have aged a bit, they still hold up to most modern platformers with only a few drawbacks or sections where frustration sets in.
One of the key technical problems that I experienced involved the vehicular transportation. While the problem was not so bad in TPL due to the Zoomer having to only move forward in most cases, in Jak II and 3, the vehicles are clunky and are hard to control. By hard to control, I mean that there are two ways that they respond to input: oversensitivity or lag. The larger vehicles turn very slowly (even accounting for mass) while the smaller ones tended to crash into walls with the slightest movement of the analog stick.
The musical score of the trilogy is nice due to the fact that the soundtracks reflect the current situation that Jak and Daxter find themselves in. In Haven City in Jak II , if the guards currently aren't looking for them, the music will play a slow, suspenseful, and ominous track showing that Jak could only be a few seconds away from being caught. If Jak is currently racing against time or is being chases, the music will change to a track that incorporates the sounds of a ticking clock or a fast, suspenseful tempo.
The trophies in the Jak and Daxter games are mostly story based. By mostly, I mean around 80-85% of them. The rest of them are collectable trophies. The difficulty of the collectable trophies vary through the games. The collectable trophies from TPL can be considered the easiest to obtain due to how common the power cells, scout flies, and precursor orbs are. In Jak II the precursor orbs are much rarer, but are easier to find if you know where to look. The difficulty of the collectable trophies in Jak 3 is about average since precursor orbs are easier to find than in Jak II, but there is a lot more ground to cover.
The Jak and Daxter HD Collection is solid tribute to one of the greatest duos in the Playstation franchise. While the games may show their age despite receiving the high definition, they are still solid games that are fun to play and have fun and witty dialogue. Graphics should not be the sole determiner of whether a game is good or not. If you are one of the gamers who had any of the games when they were first released on the Playstation 2, then you already know how good the games are. All in all, despite the few faults that the three games in the collection may have, this is a great purchase to anyone who enjoys good, old-fashioned platfomers.
The overall gameplay is solid with very few problems as a platformer. I do like how Naughty Dog tried to innovate the gameplay experience with each new Jak game to come out.
The plot of the trilogy is one of the shining moments of the PS2's career. The plots aren't just thrown together without caring about the past games (or even future games).
Vehicle controls notwithstanding, this was a good game overall. The solid gameplay and appropriate music allow for anyone to still enjoy the game despite the graphics.
Overall: 9.0/10 Brilliant