Video Game Review: Jak & Daxter Collection
:Gorgeous and vivid visuals, 3 great unique games, hilarious voice-acting
:Some camera bugs still evident, change in gameplay from different games may be overwhelming
The troublesome duo’s fantastic adventures make a welcomed return on the PS3.
Before the Uncharted series became it’s good-looking, cheeky and utterly impressive self on the current gen consoles, Naughty Dog’s pride and joy was a little series called Jak & Daxter – maybe you have heard of it? Featuring a young boy, Jak, and his best friend, Daxter (who inadvertently gets turned into an Ottsel – some strange otter / weasel hybrid), the series managed to pick up somewhat of a cult following.
Throughout the Playstation 2’s heyday, the troublesome duo were Sony’s platforming pride and joy, delivering three great games before the series took some spin-offs and shied away from the current console generation.
Well, the pair have made their way onto the Playstation 3 thanks to another intelligent choice by Sony to release the Jak & Daxter Collection, following the trend of other recent HD trilogies, such as Sly Cooper and Metal Gear Solid.
The collection features the original Jak & Daxter, Jak II and Jak III. While all part of the same series, each game differs quite greatly from one another in terms of a genre and play-style standpoint.
Jak & Daxter plays out as more of a traditional platformer, with Jak and Daxter having to overcome obstacles, engage in platforming-based puzzles and defeat enemies with a spinning-attack. Collecting items is the name of the game in Jak 1 (what we’ll call it for context’s sake), and the story revolves around Precursor orbs, which Jak and Daxter have to collect in order to obtain power cells. The power cells are needed for a ship to take them to a certain part of their tropical island in order to solve a mystery.
Jak II takes on a bit more of an ambitious approach to the series by branching out the game into the open-world setting of Haven City, adding in gadgets and weaponary, and a vast amount of new characters to interact with. This evolution in features changed the gameplay style into more of an action-oriented experience, as players could tackle certain things as they wanted using different guns and gadgets. The platforming element took a backseat – not for better or worse, but for a sense of innovation. Jak II stands out as a strong entry in the series and is a great intermediate of gamplay progression between Jak I and III.
Jak III then evolved the series even further by incorporating vehicles and a much bigger and world and larger open eviroments. Players are thrown into the city of Spargus and are tasked by the king to carry out certain missions, allowing Jak and Daxter to use a variety of vehicles to reach new areas and even engage in some vehicular combat along the way. Jak III expands on all the ideas that people enjoy about the series and houses probably the strongest story of all three games.
In terms of the visual upgrade, the Jak & Daxter Collection features a strong and noticeable presentation overhaul. The graphics are much crisper and cleaner, particularly Jak II and III. Jak I still carries some flat textures, but the vivid colours and featuring the most gorgeous setting out of all three games does Jak I wonders in high-definition. Overall, the three games all look great and Naughty Dog did a great design job at the time to create an art-style that still remains unique and gorgeous to this day. A slight downfall is that the camera tends to hitch on certain objects and is controlled invertedly, something that should have been tweaked.
The cut-scenes look particularly great, and an awesome game selection-screen, where a 3D render of the game-specific Jak appears when the relevant title is selected.
While not better than one another, each game is a great experience on its own, as Naughty Dog have always evolved each entry in the series to deliver a unique adventure to the player. These three titles aren’t part of a collection for nothing – if you’ve never touched them and a fan of 3D adventure games, pick it up. If you’re a Jak & Daxter fan – why are you reading this? Go play.