The PS2 had quite a few must-have titles, many of which have already had the recent HD treatment. There was, however, one collection that was sorely missing from this new found love of HD, the Jak and Daxter trilogy, but at last it’s here.
As you would expect from the name, the Jak and Daxter trilogy includes three titles for you to work your way through. The Precursor Legacy takes us all the way back to the beginning and to a game that pretty much launched the PS2, introducing us to the mute Jak, explaining Daxter’s orange and furry complexion and giving us plenty of precursor lore along the way. The plot is based around Jak feeling responsible for Daxter’s transformation into an Ottsel and takes him on a quest to turn Daxter back. As you’d expect this is soon side-lined as there are a lot more evil happenings in the world that was previously thought. Considering the age of this title it holds up really well, with a lot of platform action and a bright and exciting world full of collectables like Precursor Orbs. As with the other titles in this collection, the controls are classic platform with Jak able to double jump, roll and jump for longer leaps, punch and also spin attack enemies.
Although the game starts off with a few areas to explore, for the story to progress Jak and Daxter are required to upgrade their Zoomer. To do this they need to chat and carry out favours for the local inhabitants and earn power cells that can then be used for upgrades for the Zoomer that then allows them to travel across previously blocked areas like lava lakes.
This is a game that was created after the immense Mario 64, yet still managed to hold its own against the Nintendo behemoth.
Jak II really turns it all on its head; there must have been a lot of angst in the production team as the game turns very dark, and even a little spoiled by some occasional swear words, making it not really appropriate for younger gamers who would have otherwise lapped up Jak and Daxter: The Precursors Legacy.
Completely removing the bright and colourful home-world, Jak and his comrades are transported by a Precursor warp to another world where, as soon as they arrive Jak is captured and taken to Haven City. At this point the game skips forward two years with Daxter finally managing to save Jak from his prison; finding out that he is not the same as before. Having been experimented on with Dark Eco, Jak is now able to focus this energy when he collects enough of it, turning into Dark Jak and upping his mêlée attacks, and oh yeah, he can suddenly talk. Though still mainly a platform game there is also the inclusion of weaponry in the way of a Morph Gun, a city full of Zoomers and also a rather nifty jet board that Jak can use to hover over obstacles and generally move around the city a lot quicker.
The mission layout is also a huge change from the previous game, being a lot more linear as you run around and even hijack Zoomers to navigate the dark and dreary Haven City. You’ll also be running errands, but this time to help the rebellion in overrunning the Krimzon Gaurds that hold an iron grip over the city, whilst also battling the Metal Heads that live on the outskirts of the city.
Controls in Jak II are nowhere near as solid as the first game, with an awkward camera that more often than not you can’t adjust and a very uncomfortable jump and movement system. Considering what we have said so far, added to the very dark undertones when compared to the first game, even though offering more, Jak II doesn’t feel as good or as fresh as the first game.
Jak 3 takes another huge leap and this time improves massively on the disappointing sequel. Jak is still in the Haven City to start with, but having been framed for working with the Metal Heads and then the city coming under a vicious attack, Haven City council have no choice but to exile him to the wasteland outside of the city walls. With Jak and Daxter left for dead, they are saved by a forgotten tribe, who have created a hidden city Spargus, where he first must prove his worth before setting on one last quest.
Though still more akin to the sequel, Jak 3 feels a lot more solid with some tight controls and a wonderful new world to explore. Though still a platform game at heart Jak 3 seamlessly manages to move away from these areas and keep things fresh with the inclusion of some dirt buggies, allowing you to get behind the wheel of some Mad Max style rigs, exploring the wastelands and getting into plenty of races.
As with Jak II, the weapons and Dark Eco return, however this time there are a lot more weapon mods to try out during the game. To balance out the Dark powers that reside in him, Jak is also granted the power to transform into Light Jak, using the Eco for even more powers.
Looking at the new HD Trilogy compared to the original, it’s clear that each game’s graphics have been given a major overhaul, with a lot less jaggies being noticable and the characters looking more like they come from a Saturday morning cartoon. Being one of the best platform games of its generation, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is worth the asking price alone and even though slightly disappointing, Jak II is still fun. Add the final game into the mix and you really do have a fantastic package here.
It is a little sad that the PSP game Daxter was not included as part of the main story as it does fill in what happens to Daxter during the early part of Jak II, but considering there is another PSP game in the wild, as well as Jak X, then who knows, maybe we’ll have another HD revision coming soon. Until then this is classic platforming at its best.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
The Jak & Daxter HD Collection is available on PlayStation 3. You can order it from ShopTo here.