Jak and Daxter was a favourite from the PlayStation 2 era. Consisting of a trilogy with a spin-off racing game. The series drew people in and kept them there. Naughty Dog did a number on parents’ wallets, with good reasons.
The Precursor Legacy
The Precursor Legacy saw Jak begin his adventure and the discovery of dark eco corrupting the evil forces that settled within Misty Island and within the villages guarded by the sages. Jak must complete a quest, rescuing the sages, collecting the power cells and precursor orbs scattered around the island. The mechanics within the game had you punching enemies and leaping over the artefacts left by the ancient precursors.
The game had a simple, yet effective storyline that is a classic within video games. A young, innocent boy setting out on a quest against the forces of evil to protect his homeland. There is an emotional connection with Jak. Especially if discovering Naughty Dog and their outstanding game design. Precursor Legacy is a definite landmark of the greatest selling console of all time. My favourite game of the series and loved by so many.
Jak 2 followed with the traversal of the eco gate. Haven City promoted a change of setting and gameplay. Jak is now able to harness dark eco, a powerful and corrupting ability. Being in this state allowed for a violent state which allowed for harder hits and use of claws. Guns followed, the wide range of upgrades kept the gameplay exciting. The blue machine gun was a rapid firing bringer of death, beginning with a couple of short bursts beforehand. The change of scenario created a futuristic era, contrasting the ancient feeling that The Precursor Legacy brought with it.
Jak 2 kept the high standard that the first game left behind, though not as memorable. The city environment. Aggroing the Krimsin Guard that kept the citizens in check was a fun way of killing time, though it often ended in death, or a desperate escape with one of the flying vehicles that floated above you. A step into the environment outside the city lead to fighting in the wastelands, the harder missions took place out there and the metal-heads proved to be a force of reckoning. Luckily their crystals serve as currency for dark powers, awarded from the returning oracle. Previously rewarding Jak with power cells in exchange for precursor orbs.
Jak 3 saw the return of Haven City. What stood out here was the vehicle gameplay. Jak could step into the wasteland with cars armed with guns. Spending precursor orbs on new cars was a favourite. Scouring the city for the rare, hidden resource was so worth the wait. Defending Spargus City will hold the frustration of the era. Stopping the attacks on the city included some of the hardest missions in the game. The game had changed Jak from being the innocent boy from Sandhurst Village or the hero dragged into a resistance against the city dictatorship. Now he was a hardened, killing machine.
Jak 3 was a welcome end to the trilogy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best in the series, the sales figures reflect this theory. Naughty Dog had strayed too far from its original roots that made Jak special. Guns just didn’t reflect the personality that began the journey to victory. Gameplay didn’t reflect the style that the series was originally known for, the fighting mechanics that the series followed were lost. The satisfaction of punching a Lurker and the trademark groan had faded. That wouldn’t be the end of Jak though.
Jak X was a spin-off combat racing game. Leaving behind the gameplay that the original trilogy featured. The focus was on racing with weapons. There were a few racing missions within Jak 3 that the game borrowed off and I believe that it might have inspired a couple of games that came in the years following. The game didn’t grab the attention like the trilogy did. Naughty Dog did not deliver a decent product.
Jak X was a forgetful game. Capitalizing off the success of the trilogy limited the experience. The game followed nothing of the original games other than the characters and the wasteland environment. Competitors with racing games easily beat the game into submission with better racing mechanics and track designs being superior in comparison. The playability of the game was limited.
An Emotional Return for Jak and Daxter
A decade later, Jak and Daxter re-released on Playstation 3. Replaying the trilogy was a nostalgic experience that reminded of a fantastic franchise. One of my first experiences with gaming was with Jak and it brought a happiness with it. It could also fit on one disk which shows how far technology has come since the early two-thousands. The franchise was so successful that a further port is now in development for Playstation 4, releasing in 2017. Upscaling to 1080p will make the experience a pleasant one, buying might be hard to justify for owners of the PS3 version due to already shelling out twice for the trilogy already. The Jak and Daxter franchise deserves high recommendation. Any readers new to the series should defiantly pick it up.