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The Jak and Daxter Trilogy

For: PS Vita

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Product: The Jak and Daxter Trilogy | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy PS Vita, thumbnail 1
There's a lot of love out there for the Jak and Daxter franchise.

This series of PlayStation 2 action-adventures represented a final hurrah for the character platformer before the industry moved towards grittier, more realistic games. After all, the power of the 128-bit systems suddenly allowed developers to render a trillion different shades of brown. How could they pass that up?

As soon as you start playing the Vita version of this HD collection you'll see where the appeal lies. Even so, the port isn't perfect, the games haven't aged well in a couple of respects, and some of the criticisms aimed at the originals have been made all the more acute by the passage of time.

More than just jumping

It's perhaps unfair to criticise a game for what it doesn't have, but if you're after the "complete" Jak and Daxter experience then you're out out of luck. Three games from the canon are missing: the PSP games Daxter and The Lost Frontier, and the PS2 game Jak X: Combat Racing. Their absence is unfortunate, as they're all excellent.

But let's stick with what there is. For your money you're getting Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II: Renegade, and Jak 3 in one package. If you want to see absolutely everything those three games have to offer, you're looking at about 100 hours of platforming, combat, and driving action.

Driving? Yes, driving. If you haven't already played these games you may be surprised to learn that there's a lot more to them than just jumping from one inexplicably floating ledge to another.

Each Jak game tries to achieve something a little different in addition to its chasm-leaping and goon-punching, and each has its upsides and downsides.

A Banjo, a badland, and a Bikini Bottom

The first Jak has a huge and bright world based on the platforming standards of world design: grass bits, lava bits, snow bits, and so on. It's crammed full of stuff to do and items to pocket, but it follows the Banjo-Kazooie school of thought when it comes to collectables, and the final pay-off is ultimately pointless.

Jak II tones down the palette, and things get all nu-metal. Jak now transforms into a more powerful character when he collects enough Dark Eco, but the story behind all this isn't particularly gripping and one of the villains sounds like Mr Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants. The gameplay feels totally at odds with the story that's trying to be told.

Jak 3 adds a lot of driving into the mix as you explore vast swathes of a wasteland. Any vehicle with four wheels controls brilliantly and fits right into the almost-Mad Max setting, but the glider is unwieldy, and the sections in which you ride a lizard are some of the worst moments of the entire series.

Getting crabby

Where the PlayStation 3 version runs at a silky 60fps, the Vita outing has serious frame-rate issues. The second game runs fine and holds steady, the third occasionally dips, but the first is all over the place as the Vita struggles to render everything on-screen.

And the controls feel wrong. Movement can be twitchy, and the commands that are assigned to the rear touch pad feel gimmicky and imprecise. When the platforming, shooting, and driving asks you to be very precise, the controls often let you down.

It's a real bummer, because without these problems The Jak and Daxter Trilogy would go from being a good package to a great one. The script is witty, the gameplay is constantly changing, and when everything's working as it should be these are among the best platformers ever produced.
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 13 June 2013
Though fans of the series may be able to excuse its technical issues, this isn't the top-end collection it could have been to attract new players to this classic series
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