The original Jak and Daxter game was a huge hit with not only fans of platformers, but also straight up PlayStation fans. Thus, the second and third installments of the series were equally popular. It didn’t take a hardcore gamer to beat these games. Every Jak and Daxter game was relatively accessible to virtually all types of gamers. The graphics and animations were stunning to those back in the PS2 age. Lots of people absolutely love all three games, and swear by them no matter what. I recently got my hands on The Jak and Daxter Trilogy (an HD remastered collection of the three games), and while I celebrate the excellent effort and results of the remastering, I have to say that the games fall flat. Some people that review games just talk about the remastering job. I don’t. I like to see how well the games hold up in a remastered form. Unfortunately, they just don’t hold up.
I must say, both Jak and Daxter are likable characters. Daxter is funny. He always has those one-liners that can make you smile once in a while. Jak is a great character. He’s not all that fleshed out or relatable, but he does have enviable qualities that keep you rooting for him until the end. The story did not flesh him out much in any of the three games, and if I’m honest, the story itself in fact did not intrigue me in the slightest. I was just bored with the whole concept.
I won’t spoil anything for those that haven’t played these games, but evil energy infecting the world? And science experiments on Jak? It was just outright boring, predictable, and fully forgettable. To be honest, it just didn’t add much to the games at all. The story wasn’t believable in any way. Normally, that’s no reason to penalize a platformer, but I’m not talking about realism. I’m talking about emotion. There was no clever plot, or even a clever ending. I just didn’t like it.
The graphics are actually one of the few things that held up over the years. Remastered in HD, it looks great! The dull palette was rather fitting, and the resolution added to the platforming experience. However, the textures were a bit pixilated and rough. Also, your character can’t even touch the walls. There’s an invisible wall that doesn’t let the player get anywhere near perceived boundaries. I do realize that this complaint is rather nitpicky of me, but I thought that I would mention it.
Everything else is pretty well done – except the cutscenes. There just isn’t a feel of scale or luster in the cutscenes anymore. When a tower crumbles to the ground and you barely escape, there’s just no emotion to it. Luckily, the remastered lighting is notable. It adds a bit of depth to the pixilated textures, and gives the game’s world a silent story of its own. Overall, the graphics have held up, but there are still flaws that I think could’ve been taken care of in the remastering process. I don’t expect remake results, but I do expect a smoother visual experience than the one that I got from this trilogy collection.
The gameplay gave me a mixed reaction. It was alright, but nothing great enough for me to preach about. It has its classic platforming moments, but it just doesn’t measure up to the top platformers like Mario and Sly Cooper. Yes, it has double jumping (which has been and unofficial staple since the Nintendo 64 came out) but it doesn’t have the motifs that you’d expect to find in classic platformers. Now, maybe back when they first came out, the Jak and Daxter games might’ve had groundbreaking mechanics and gameplay instead of classic, but I don’t know. I’ve played many games on my beloved PlayStation 2 system, but never the Jak and Daxter games. I did have some fun with the gameplay, but it just didn’t do much for me.
The gameplay and controls were generally well done and responsive, but they feel awkward and a bit out of place. Had it been classic platforming gameplay, I probably would’ve liked it a lot more, but it wasn’t. I’m not trying to be nitpicky, I just feel like I got a wishy-washy experience. I did enjoy using the vehicles in the games, but it took a while for me to get the hang of it. Smashing up the vehicles was fun as well… But it was very short-lived.
The combat gameplay in all three games are essentially identical to each other. I must say that it does remind me of the PS2 classic Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus in a minor sense, except for the fact that the player has a health bar in the Jak and Daxter games. The enemies are exceptional in the Jak and Daxter games. They might not have very intelligent AI, but they are quite varied, and they are pretty cool too. The attacks are always repetitive, but this is an admirable staple of virtually all platformers (don’t believe me? Take a look at every Mario game ever released). The only issue is that none of the enemies are particularly difficult. A few of them pose a slight threat, but none of them offer much of a challenge. It can be a little difficult at first, but once you get a grip on the controls, you won’t have much of an issue.
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy doesn’t hold up very well as a remastered version of the original games. Not many people would throw such a detailed review at a remastered collection of games, but I take my video gaming very seriously, and I just didn’t have fun playing them. Some people won’t complain about the same points that I do, but all of which I said are valid points none-the-less. Some of you will have a good time, and others will be disappointed. The game isn’t great, but it is surely worth the hardcore Jak and Daxter fans’ money.