Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy HD Review
Written : Friday, March 09, 2012
By: Lee Abrahams
The era of the HD collection is truly upon us and the world will never be the same again. Whether you see the succession of updated re-releases as a shameless cash-in with a slightly new coat of paint or an epic chance to repeat some glorious gaming memories is entirely up to you. Here then is some of Naughty Dog’s earlier work before they got all bogged down with that tiresome little side project called Uncharted (joke: please don’t lynch me), bundled into a neat trilogy that cuts out some of the other entries in the series entirely.
The Jak & Daxter Trilogy slots neatly between the early days of Crash Bandicoot and Drake’s ongoing saga, in a period of time when Sony was still seemingly keen on a platforming poster boy to go up against the mighty Mario. As such the level of charisma and innovation is right up there with the best that consoles have to offer, with a neat blend of gameplay mechanics and a wonderfully sly sense of humour throughout. Even when the game takes a shift in tone from the rather fluffy original to the darker follow ups, there is still a grand sense of fun and adventure to be had along the way. Plus, a comedy sidekick that is actually funny rather than annoying – surely that must be some kind of paradox, omen of the Armageddon or some such?
"Who said three was a crowd?"
Regardless of how Jak & Daxter came to be, they still hold up surprisingly well. The games have certainly not been redesigned from the ground up, which may be a disappointment for some, but the graphics are certainly fairly polished. There are obviously moments when things look a little dated, the camera gets stuck behind a tree or some textures pop in unexpectedly, but nothing that will take you out of the games themselves, which is testament to the amount of fun on offer even after all this time.
The original game probably shows its age the most, but that is perhaps down to the obvious strides in terms of story, setting and graphics that took place between that game ending and the sequel picking up where it left off. That said, there are still enough fun moments and excellent platforming sections to make the game a joy. If it weren’t for some rather frustrating leaps of faith and vehicle sections then things would be hunky dory, but you can’t have it all. At least when you die after missing a pixel perfect jump you can enjoy a touching sidekick style eulogy. Kind of.
"The health spa was a bit hands on."
Jak II: Renegade and Jak 3 shift away from The Precursor Legacy's relatively twee platforming and become a bit more open-world in nature, as well as having Jak become a bit more of a bad boy rather than a mere stoic hero. The nature of the games may be a touch grittier but the core elements are still wonderfully intuitive and easy to get to grips with. It's easy to see - particularly with the Jak 3 - how Drake came about and the action is thrown at players thick and fast, with each new challenge offering something fresh and interesting. Considering the dearth of action adventure games of this nature in the current age (unless you own a Wii for the most part) then having the chance to revisit three games of such obvious quality is certainly a treat.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any flaws, as at times things can seem a bit too easy going and the constant need to amble back and forth over previously explored areas can be a touch tiresome as well as frustrating if you get lost. Plus, while it's fair to say that the games are shorter than I seem to remember, that may be down to my rose-tinted memory and the ride, while it lasts, is still an enjoyable one. You will have probably seen and played a variety of similar and more polished games since these titles were launched as well, which makes them feel a bit jaded nowadays, but for those that never dipped a toe in the series before then, there is still an epic yarn waiting to be enjoyed.
"Every hero needs a suitable ride."
For those amongst you seeking to add some shiny trophies to your collection, then you get the chance to have three separate lists cluttering up your system. Three platinum trophies for the price of one? Bargain. Still it would have been nice to see a bit more variety amongst the lists and most trophies are allocated to story progression, boss encounters or collectables. A few more humorous and out of the way tasks would have surely been in keeping with the style of the game, so it feels like a shame when things are so generic. Still, keeping track of your progress on each game is a breeze and the number and variety of even the most generic tasks help to ease the pain overall. Even though you may get tried of searching every nook and cranny for every last item, you will find yourself doing it anyway due to the infectious nature of proceedings.
The Jak & Daxter Trilogy is a HD collection done right. The subtle upgrades to the graphics, 3D options and trophy support are the only things these titles ever needed – as the games more than hold their own against the current crop of titles. Getting all three for one low price is just the clincher on a great deal, and it certainly bodes well for future HD releases that this one has ticked so many boxes. Sure, there is nothing new for people that may have experienced these games back in their heyday but I’m fairly sure that won’t stop them, and anyone else with a love of great games, from getting stuck in.
The voicework here is still pretty top notch, with some great one liners and outright ridiculousness, and the score perfectly complements the action.
The first game is looking a bit dated now, but the HD visuals certainly help to smooth out some rough edges. The other two games stand up pretty well considering, but there is the odd reminder that you are playing a game that is a few years old.
The games are a mash-up of styles and genres and most of it works superbly, with only some frustrating moments taking a bit of the gloss off. This is a platforming workshop to any new kids on the block.
A well thought out package with three games that stand up to the passage of time and more than hold their own. Old fans might not find much reason to go back, but this is unmissable stuff for those that never had a chance first time around.
Three lists for the price of one is a bargain, but it’s a shame you’ll be tasked with doing pretty much the same things each and every time.
A justified and well thought out collection that brings three great games together for everyone to enjoy all over again. Or even for the first time. The original flaws and niggles are still present and correct though, but that is just all part of the fun. You owe it to yourself to pick The Jak & Daxter Trilogy up.