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Jak and Daxter Collection Review

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On 02/12/2012 at 11:30 PM by Nick DiMola

Light on features, the Jak and Daxter Collection is likely to have limited appeal.

Only for those who no longer have access to the games or those who have yet to play them.

Jak & Daxter Collection has been a long time coming. Given Sony's track record for HD remasters and Naughty Dog's rise in popularity thanks to Uncharted, it was surprising that these PS2 heroes hadn't been given the HD treatment earlier. Even odder, the game has been an extremely low profile launch for Sony, as they have done very little to promote the title and its availability is still extremely limited. Being that the collection is completely devoid of bonuses, and next to no clean up work has been done on these aging classics, it's not entirely surprising that Sony is giving this one the silent treatment.

Evaluating HD remasters has raised quite a bit of controversy here at PixlBit in the past, so with this review, I'll be touching on two points. The first will be an evaluation of the overall collection package and its merits and the second will be a quick assessment of the games and how they hold up today.

The Collection's Merits

There's little question that each of the games in the Jak and Daxter Collection look leaps and bounds better than their standard definition counterparts. The colors are vibrant, the models are crisp, and the framerate is locked at a solid 60 FPS.

While the games do look great, they most definitely could look better. This really shows in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy as its textures and models are notably dated. As an easy fix, Sony could've simply swapped newer models in for the older ones and touched up some of the textures to look crisper in this 720p remastering. It's hard to take issue with Jak II and 3 as they both look great, especially Jak 3, which really shines in HD.

Unfortunately, all of the games suffer from small graphical glitches from time to time. The worst of these was during Jak 3 where the ground texture simply wasn't rendering, and in its place was a flat color. It's not game breaking, but on occasion this would cause small issues during play. This texture pop-in seems to crop up throughout the entire collection.

While the primary objective of any HD remaster collection is to bring older games into a higher resolution, these releases tend to incorporate other bonuses to entice a purchase from fans. This collection is completely devoid of the typical bonus content we've come to expect. As a matter of fact, it's so thrown together that you can't even switch between the games without quitting to the XMB.

With shortcomings like this, I suppose it's ludicrous to expect anything more from the game, but it would've been nice to see the control issues across all three of the original games resolved along with a more functional camera. After all, if these improvements aren't made here when can we ever expect to see them done?

In closing, fans who already own all of the games will find that the collection serves very little purpose. The original games absolutely look better here, but given how iconic they are it seems like a waste to have not provided anything at all to round out the offering.

How Do The Games Hold Up?

The Jak and Daxter series is an interesting one; it partly tells the story of a character duo, but on a grander scale, it tells the story of the game industry. When Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy hit the market in 2001, it was shortly after the release of Grand Theft Auto III. At this point, Jak and Daxter were your typical 3D mascot platformers on a quest to collect lots of stuff in a bright and cheerful world. As we all know, GTA III really reshaped the gaming industry and an onslaught of sandbox games began to hit the market. Jak II jumped on that bandwagon, and the result is a much darker tale that brings in the guns and open world gameplay associated with the sandbox genre. After the major departure in II, Jak 3 reeled the series back in, striking a solid balance between The Precursor Legacy's gameplay and the open world style of Jak II.

Having the opportunity to revisit these titles, it's clear now that Jak II, which is clearly a product of its time, doesn't hold up. Jak and Daxter and Jak 3 on the other hand are absolutely timeless and will likely be enjoyable for many generations to come.

So what makes Jak and Daxter so great? First and foremost, it hearkens back to the age of the action platformer - what's now a dead genre. I hold these games near and dear and Jak and Daxter was one of the better ones to be released in the genre during the PlayStation 2 generation.

Like all of the games in this genre, collection is king and you have all sorts of precursor orbs and power cells to seek out around the vivid and intriguing worlds. Despite the stiff controls, the platforming is fun and the exploration keeps things interesting.

Jak II is a completely different experience and one that's hard to jump into directly after playing the first game in the series. The once lovable characters are pretty unbearable now thanks to the "badass" treatment they were given to match the tastes of the market at the time. While this is plenty frustrating in its own right, the core experience simply isn't very fun.

Firearms have been tossed into the mix, mostly supplanting the melee attacks of the first. While these attacks can still be employed, they're now ineffective when matched up against the projectile weaponry. You'll use the guns in a variety of missions, which are sprawled across an enormous cityscape. Most of the missions are made extremely challenging due to the poor AI and the ineffective camera that fails to shift to properly scope the action on the screen.

Trekking from one mission to another is likely the biggest issue as you'll often find yourself going from one side of the enormous map to the other. You can hop on special hover vehicles to help speed things up, but they pilot so poorly, they add nothing but frustration. Warp points worked well in the first game and they should've been maintained here to reduce travel time (they'll come back in Jak 3, thankfully).

Speaking of Jak 3, the final game in the collection is definitely the best. Lifting concepts and designs from the past two games, the experience really shines. The missions are varied, the vehicles are fun to control (both the animal and mechanical varieties), and everything seems to flow together in a much more organic way. With plenty of pure platforming segments, Jak 3 is cognizant of its beginnings while still maintaining the gun-based gameplay introduced in Jak II.


Being that both Jak and Daxter and Jak 3 hold up well today, it's easy to recommend the Jak and Daxter Collection to those who haven't had a chance to play these games before. They're definitely classics and they show a side of Naughty Dog that you don't see much these days.

On the other hand, the rush job ports and the thin content make it a much tougher sell for established fans who already own the games. Sony really dropped the ball on this remastering - this collection should've been paid much more respect.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/13/2012 at 12:42 AM

Unfortunately I missed out on the Jak and Daxter series because I was extremely late to the PS2 party. Im definitely gonna be picking this up sometime later this year when I have some extra time.


02/13/2012 at 03:18 AM

These are my favorite games. I have always ranked them similar to how you do. Liking 3 slightly more than 1 and then 2 the least though I still liked it a lot. Am almost done with Jak II on the Collection now and think it is better than I recalled. There are some really great missions outside the city, but boy getting around the city and some of the missions in it are a miss. Looking forward to replaying Jak 3.

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