This week saw the release of the Jak & Daxter Collection. The collection contains the original Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II and Jak 3, all remastered in high definition with added Trophy support to boot. It's not hard to recommend the package, whether you're a longtime Jak & Daxter fan like myself, or completely new to the franchise. This trilogy makes up one of the PlayStation 2-era's shiniest beacons, and getting to revisit it now, over a decade since the original game's release, has been an amazingly nostalgic trip.
I've voiced time and time again that I love the Jak & Daxter series, so this collection was a no-brainer for me. It's three of the best PlayStation 2 titles, now in HD, for a discounted rate of $40. While the added Trophy support is a nice touch, further extending the life cycle of this already extensive package, it wasn't the deal breaker. I just wanted to be able to replay these classics, and that's precisely what I get with this collection.
It's interesting to go back to the original Jak & Daxter. As fans of the series can attest, it plays very differently than it's eventual sequels. While the sequels featured a more grown-up tone where gameplay is concerned, letting Jak fire guns and participate in rally races in a GTA–esque open world, the original title takes its inspirations from classic platformers. The goal of the game is essentially to collect loads and loads of crap — that crap being Fuel Cells. The island you're on has Fuel Cells spread all across it, and it's your job (along with your sidekick Daxter) to hunt them all down to rebuild a ship that will get you to a doctor who might be able to cure Daxter of his newly-acquired furry disease.
What's surprising is that even the original game stands the test of time. The game has enough charm and wit to make the experience an enjoyable one, even if it's aimed at the younger crowd. And maybe even more surprising, for a game over 10 years old, the original Jak & Daxter looks pretty nice when HD-ified. Cutscenes are a little rough when you get in close to see character models, but when the game is in action, it's pretty slick looking, sporting very vibrant colors that make the characters and environments pop off your television. I'll be honest, when going into this compilation, I was worried most about the original Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. I wasn't sure it if would stand up, but it thankfully does. Just don't forget this is a game from 2001, and the graphical limitations of that time period carry over with it.
Then there's Jak II an Jak 3 — the moment this series grew facial hair and bought a proverbial motorcycle to make parents of daughters nervous as hell. While I love all three Jak titles, the second and third entries in the series are by far the best. Not only did Naughty Dog expand the gameplay to include an open world and insane weapons, but the mythology of this universe gets blown out exponentially across parts two and three of this trilogy. I've said it before here on Crave and I'll say it again: the entire Jak & Daxter trilogy ranks as one of my all-time favorite video game stories. And that's in large thanks to Jak II and Jak 3. The characters, voice acting and plot of these two games combined cannot be understated.
Whether you'll a fan of the series already or a complete newbie, the Jak & Daxter Collection is a must own. It's three amazing PS2 titles repackaged in high definition with Trophy support, all for $40. having played the compilation extensively now, it makes me happy to say that all three games stand the test of time, and all PlayStation 3 owners owe it to themselves to have this sitting on their shelf. End of story.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline received one advanced copy of the Jak & Daxter Collection from Sony. We were held to the embargo date of Tuesday, February 7, 2012. We played all three of these games to completion when they originally released on the PlayStation 2. Before starting this review, we played each again for a handful of hours to see how well they held up.