July 24, 2013

Jak and Daxter Collection Review for the PS Vita

Naughty Dog and Mass Media brought the Jak and Daxter Collection to the Vita last month. Read the review inside:........

If you never played the original Jak and Daxter games on the PS2 then you are certainly in for a treat with the Jak and Daxter Collection for the PS Vita. Even if you do have fond memories of these crazy adventures over three epic stories, the HD collection overhaul from Naughty Dog and Mass Media is a perfect welcome back.

When I was considering a genre for this game, I thought: adventure, action, racing, puzzle, or platformer. I don't think it is fair to peg it as any one of these, but an exciting blend of all of the above.

In this review, I will discuss the Collection in general and then talk about each of the three games since each game is fairly different in style, and technical specs.

The Collection Review:
First off, the game is absolutely fun. You encounter colorful characters, a fun plotline, varied gameplay including platforming, completing tasks, racing on cool vehicles, seeking out every last orb (a completionists dream), just to name a few.
This triple bundle of solid gaming is enough to keep you playing this game on the go on your Vita for many, many hours.

For those of you who like trophies: 
The Collection has tons of trophies; over a hundred:
Jak the Precursor Legacy has 39
Jak 2 has 41
Jak 3 has 47

And this contains 3 platinums, one for each game (although you will have a tough time tracking them all down).

The music in this game sets the mood really well. The sound effects are great, too, especially when you get to using the vehicles and finally unlock weapon mods in the second and third game.
The voice acting is awesome. The game really focuses on a strong story with Jak as the main and often troubled hero. The characters you meet all come to life with great animations/story lines, and the varied voice acting helps make it real. And Daxter is pretty funny as a sidekick. 

Jak: The Precursor Legacy
The first game came out originally on the PS2 in 2001, a golden time for the system. This title is the most platform-y of the 3 titles and often maintains a really light feeling to it, despite the ever growing challenges. You do a lot of collecting of orbs, seeking them out in their many hidden areas. Don't worry, although there are a total of 2000 (and yes, there is a trophy for getting them all) each land shows a total count of how many you've found so you know where the last ones are when you want to perfect the game.

The Vita touch controls are used sparingly: A fishing game utilizes it well; in fact I tried at first to use the sticks, but quickly found the touch screen was far more effective. However, I only found out of this control by accident. It was not advertised well in the game.

Make sure to read the in-game manual from the start screen. It shows some moves you may not be aware of, the rolling jump, or the crouch leap... 

As I read some other reviews for the game, the number one issue people have was the lag/frame rate.
What I determined was it was not nearly as bad as what many people complain about. At least it didn't cause considerable problems. The game is 12 years old, so making it seamless and such a high frame rate would've taken much more time and effort. I played off of a cartridge versus a download.

I made a short video from the three games to show how little it affects controls and gameplay

The main issue I have with the game is the camera control. I wanted to look up at certain points, but couldn't and it made navigating a map difficult. Also the camera often got "stuck" behind an area and I had to move around to get it clear. Seeing what was the next task, or how to leave a location was sometimes tricky. This isn't a fault with the redo, but with the game engine at the time.

But all in all, the story is great, the characters likable, the gameplay is fantastic and varied... and best of all it gets Hard! You will definitely replay areas to get all the hidden goodies.

Jak 2
The game takes on a darker tone, as you will find out in the first five minutes of the game; one that defines a new ability for Jak. Dark Jak. When you collect enough "Dark eco" you can activate a type of berzerker mode. There is also a turn to guns in this game. You don't pick one up until a few missions in, but then it is a staple in all your encounters afterwards. The levels are tighter and there is a more story driven gameplay (you must destroy weapon depots, bring up the rebellion in the city, etc).

You also pick up different vehicles to vary things. Some vehicles are needed to get all the levels 100%. For instance, the jet board and Titan suit. The jet board ended up being a favorite for me in its control and hoverboard-esque feel.

Racing and gun challenges also abound in your search to get more powerful and complete challenges. You'll spend a fair amount of time hunting them down and acing them!

So, more of the first game, and then even more so. Naughty Dog found a formula that worked, and then they added to it. Perfect!

Jak 3

Immediately you are thrown you into the action after a quick catch up of the ending of Jak 2. You will notice the tried and true style is kept up in this game as well. You get guns right off (which is nice, some games make you go back in time and redo the style, this one made it so all you learned before in the trilogy is readily available).

Naughty Dog kept the tradition up by adding new styles to keep the series fresh. Yes, the storyline continues and the voice acting all are wonderful, but you get new weapon mods, more vehicles,  you can control Daxter at times...

The inventory screen keeps getting better here, too. You have an items screen, one for weapons, for armor... it makes it all feel customizable.

Like Jak 2, there is an open world feel to the game. You don't have to do everything, but it certainly is there for you to explore.

You will like this game if you:
  • enjoy a detailed storyline carrying throughout a series in which characters grow and you care about them
  • like many challenges
  • are a trophy collector
  • need varied gameplay
  • want a great set of 3 games for a budget price (you can get it for a mere $20 now)
You won't like this game if you:
  • only play new games (there are technical issues with cameras, problems using the touch pads/screens... they are touchy)
  • only play first person shooters

Final word: 
It is clear why Naughty Dog is considered a top studio nowadays: they started off with some amazing games. Ignore the complaints you may have read from other reviews. The frame rate is barely noticeable when you are having a fun time with the game.

It is a perfect "on the go" game for your Vita. Pick it up.

Do you own the game yet? Played it on your PS3 already? Comment below:

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