If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Oh Lord, this is going to be a difficult review; the fans are going to skin me alive for this. Not because I'm going to be talking trash, but, this was quite a mixed bag of a collection in so many ways. I’ll dive right into it and try to explain it all.
So, the Jak and Daxter series was released on the Playstation 2 by Naughty Dog, who today are most famous for Uncharted, but back in the 90's burst onto the scene with Crash Bandicoot. The series became a massive success on the PS1, but it slumped on the PS2, leaving the developer with a big problem. And their solution? Jak and Daxter, an open-world platformer that still to this day, is regarded as one of the best of its kind. Two more games followed, and all have been revamped in HD for the Playstation 3.
The results speak for themselves, this game has never looked better. The vibrant colours, smooth animation, the simplistic details to all the areas you can discover, it looks wonderful. Mass Media was given the task of the HD remastering, and they didn't disappoint at all. If anything, it almost looks better than my nostalgic memories, and that's as good a compliment as I can give. Just like Beyond Good and Evil, these form of animated videogames are perfect for giving the HD treatment, because the results are almost always the most impressive.
So, let's get into the gameplay itself. It's your usual open-world platformer - you're given a bit of story to follow, and then have the whole world to yourself to discover and explore. You need to collect Power Cells in order to progress to the next areas, solve puzzles, defeat bosses, and collect hidden items. What makes this immediately stand out though, is that there are next to no loading times. I cannot even begin to describe how good that feels, except for when the game loads at the beginning, you never waste time hanging around while the next screen loads. It's something I wish more games could implement, and makes this game all the more enjoyable.
The first game (Jak and Daxter) is by far the best, it has a wonderful simplicity to it, very like the classic Spyro the Dragon games. The jokes are funny, the scenery is gorgeous, and the difficulty slope is nice and steady. You help some of the locals out in obtaining Power Cells, but outside of that, the story never feels like it's interfering in your fun. Exactly how a Platformer should be. The physics feels a little stiff sometimes, but never too often to be a problem. This was the Playstation's first true rival to the Mario games of the time, and they did a fine job indeed, it just has so much fun and such an easy-going gaming style to it, I found it hard to put down the controller. If you haven't played it, definitely check this one out.
The next game Jak II, could not be more different. Right from the get-go, they turn Jak into this hate-filled, spiteful douchebag who you couldn’t give two fucks about. His alteration throws away all the connections the player made in the first game, it’s like if they suddenly made Nathan Drake a spineless coward. And this happens within the first two minutes of the opening scene. After that, you're plunged into this futuristic town with no bearing on what your goal should be, and that bears no relation at all to the first game. It's like they tried to copy the layout of Grand Theft Auto, and failed miserably, the streets are just so dull and tedious to navigate, and even the areas where the platforming returns, feel too cold and sterile. I got about an hour into this game until I reached a stage that was so infuriatingly difficult and pointless, I lost all hope in the game. It's amazing how Naughty Dog managed to ruin everything that was good about Jak, and add in everything we didn't need in a platformer.
Finally we have Jak III, which I did play for at least more than an hour. This is a strange one, because you can tell immediately that Naughty Dog was trying to minimise the damage they had caused. Jak isn't as hateful as before, and the city you are based in looks much more interesting. The exploration in the deserts outside the city walls isn't bad either; it's actually impressive that they managed to include it all with no load screens whatsoever. Sadly though, it looks like they tried to compete with Ratchet and Clank, and include weapons, doing nothing but driving the series further away from what it should be about. Despite it being vastly better than Jak II, it also feels disappointing, because there was a great game trying to fight out of the mess it was in. They threw in too many ideas that other games were using at the time, and never focussed on any one of them. This would have been an opportune time to do a revamp and just go back to basics. At the end of the day, they couldn't repair the damage that had been inflicted, there was no turning back to the original style of the first game, and that really is a shame....
So, where does this leave this PS3 game? Well, as I said before, they did a gold-standard job with updating and smoothing the visuals, it's a beautiful game just to look at. The Trophies add a little extra challenge, and it's the type of series both kids and adults will both enjoy. Sadly though, Jak II and Jak III were such crushing disappointments, they left me feeling a bit cold about this HD Collection. Don't get me wrong, the first game is marvellous, and the third is reasonably fun, but does that give reason to buy this? Hmm......
As I said from the start, this is a difficult one to call. If you're a fan of the series, I will say this is a Full Price, the games have never looked as good as they do on this disc, and I'm sure you'll love every second of it. For everyone else though, I would recommend this as a Borrow. Play it for a week, which should give you plenty time to discover what you'll like from the series, or at the very least, buy the first game from the Playstation Store. All said though, this is one of the better HD remasterings we've seen of late.
Thanks for reading! ^__^