If you are a fan of platformers, and you are looking for a value buy on the PS3, then you can stop reading this review right now and go out and pick up the Jak and Daxter Collection for the PS3. Not only does it contain three remastered PS2 hits from developer Naughty Dog, it is even lower priced than most PS3 games at $39.99. So if value is your thing, there you go.
There are two current trends that this collection is capitalizing on right now. The first is the slight revival of platforming games that is bordering on vogue. There have been several releases of the ilk recently on all systems, from the 3DS’ Super Mario 3D Land, to the PS3’s Ratchet and Clank All 4 One, to last Fall’s Rayman Origins. The second trend is the move to re-release classic games with a new HD shine.
Reintroducing old games with a new look can be a potentially risky maneuver for publishers. There needs to be a very good reason to bring the games back. It needs to justify its own existence. The Metal Gear Solid Collection not only brought back a series of incredibly popular games, it introduced Peace Walker to fans that didn’t own a PSP. The God of War Collection allowed PS3 users to play the full trilogy. The Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection reintroduced two of the best games that nobody played to a new audience. In all cases, there was a good reason for the re-release. The same is true of the Jak and Daxter Collection.
The Collection contains the first three titles from the franchise, all of which originally appeared on the PS2: Jak and Daxter, The Precursor Legacy, which originally released in December of 2001; Jak II from 2003; Jak 3, which hit stores in 2004. The Collection arrives just in time to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the series.
For those that missed the originals, if you have even a minor inclination towards platformers, this collection contains one of the best (or in this case, three of the best) examples of the genre from the PS2–and that is saying something. The Jak and Daxter series was always somewhat popular, but never came close to reaching the same level of appeal as other games made in the same style like Mario or Sonic. That was a shame too, since they were all great games, which makes this collection a second chance to check them out.
The content is unchanged, so all the great moments return—the humor and imaginative levels are present. Some of the frustrating moments return too—the camera still tries to murder you in the first two games, for example. For those that have played the games, the content remains unchanged. It looks much, much better though.
This is actually one of the best remasterings to date. Of the three games in the collection, the graphics improve as you would expect, with the third looking the best and the first the worst—relatively speaking. The cut scenes are actually worse than the gameplay in the first game, but the deliberately cartoony design works in favor of the 10 year gap between then and now. The blocky nature is unmistakably dated, and they still look like PS2 cut scenes, but late PS2 cut scenes. The gameplay and level design, however, look like early PS3 at least, if not better. The gameplay holds up as well. It feels a bit old school, but the level design was so well thought out to begin with that it still holds up.
The three games mark are a true trilogy in terms of story. There was a fourth title in the franchise, released on the PSP and PS2, but it was developed by a different studio, and its omission makes sense. Playing through these three games in order makes for a good history of developer Naughty Dog as well. You can see how the developer grew and evolved. On the surface it might seem like a far stretch from the lighthearted platforming of Jak and Daxter to the action oriented movie-games of the Uncharted series, but you can almost see the way the shift. Each game shows more confidence, and each game is more impressive than the last.
If you have even the tiniest inclination towards platforming games, then this trilogy is worth the money without question. You get three great games for the price of one, and all three look good (two look great). The re-releases of older games continues to succeed—especially on PS3—principally because the games that have been re-released are games that hold up regardless of the graphics. That remains true of the Jak and Daxter Collection. The games were brilliantly designed to begin with, both in level design and in the presentation that included a charming and generally witty story. They were already classic games, adding updated graphics and packaging them together is just the cherry on top.
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 on a copy provided by Sony Computer Entertainment)