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Triple Review: Jak & Daxter Trilogy


These are spoiler-free reviews, I will not talk about the story too much. You're safe. 😉 

The first Jax & Dexter games were developed by Californian developer Naughty Dog, part of Sony Computer Entertainment. They are open-world adventure-action games with a sense of humor, while the first one is a platformer while the other 2 are shooters. The main characters are Jak & Dexter, obviously from the title. Jak is an adventurous young boy and his pal, Dexter, is this small talking looking creature called an Ottesel. It's been theorized by fans that Jak & Daxter take place "somewhat" in the same universe as Ratchet & Clank and the Sly Cooper series. (Many "poke for fun" references and cameos).  The games of the trilogy were originally released for the Sony Playstation 2 with amazingly graphical and cartoony (in a good way) graphics for its time. They're not that dated but they all look good in HD (and also SD if you have composite cable). All 3 are compatible in native 16:3 aspect ratio. 


Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy 

"Hey, seagulls! Let's buzz 'em for kicks."

Released in 2001, This beat-em-up platformer follows the main character, a young boy named Jak, as he tries to help his friend Daxter after he is transformed into an "Ottesel, a fictional hybrid of an otter and a weasel. With a help of Samos the Sage, the pair learn that they must save their world from these dark and mysterious substances called Dark Eco that corrupts anything that it touches. 

The game is open-world and the player is free to explore, offers a large range of missions and minigames that provide a variety of gameplay experiences, including puzzle and platform elements that the player must complete to proceed with the story. In the game, you control Jak, who has access to abilities such as double jumping, rapid spinning kick, and glide jumping. Injuries are counted from a life meter, which will decrease whenever Jack is hit by enemies, falls from long distances, or makes contact with hazardous surfaces. The primary enemies of the game consist of beasts known as "Lurkers".

A large part of the gameplay revolves around eco, a type of colored energy that comes in six different forms. The player can utilize eco powers by either collecting small amounts of glowing eco particles or fully charging through eco vents. 

The game also offers a range of several collectibles called "Precursor Orbs" to collect within areas of the game.

The soundtrack, composed by Josh Mancell, is amazing! Most of the outdoor areas of the game have peaceful and adventurous music including ambient and tropical. These non-singing songs will relax and calm the player especially Sentinal Beach and Sandover Village. You also buy it on CD!

Absolutely nothing generic, the story is fun and original, the characters are great and funny (especially Daxter), the environments and visuals are very polished. it's a heartwarming and adventure that fun and appropriate for the whole family. The game looks inspired by Rare's Banjo and Kazzoe and Crash Bandicoot (Naughty Dog's other game). The frame rate is very smooth as butter for a PS2 game and runs very well. This is a great game to own and highly recommended.

9/10


Jak 2

"I hate the smell of this part of the city....."

Released in 2003, Jak 2 takes it to another turn, the sequel is more darker and mature than the first game. This time instead of a beat-em-up platformer, it's a third-person shooter but with platforming elements. Nothing wrong with that, it was unexpected, and looks like they wanted to spice things up a little.

Takes place 2 years after the first game, Jak is locked in prison and has been experimented on by Dark eco. Daxter rescues Jak from prison and discovers there are in Haven City, a dystopian city controlled by a totalitarian regime ruled by Baron Praxis. Haven City serves as the game's hub location, although the player is frequently given tasks that must be fulfilled outside of the city. The player can also ride on multiple-choice vehicles in the city. Besides the main story to complete, there are mini-games such as racing to earn Precursor Orbs. Don't be fooled they're pretty challenging, especially Onin's game

The Eco timed power-up gameplay from the previous game has been removed, and the introduction of weapons such as the Morph Gun, a multipurpose firearm, adds a greater emphasis on enemy combat. The player can unlock four different gun mods for the gun as they play through the game; the Scatter Gun, for close-range fighting, the Blaster, for long-range fighting, the Vulcan Fury, a high rate-of-fire weapon in the fashion of a minigun, the bullets of which deal less damage per round compared to the Blaster but can pierce enemies and breakables so it can hit multiple targets with a single round, and the Peace Maker, which fires charged blasts of energy, and is extremely powerful.

There are two enemies to defeat, the Krimzom Guards and the evil Metal Heads.

Due to experiments conducted on Jak for two years, Jak can transform into a darker version of himself, known as Dark Jak, by killing enemies for Dark Eco. In this form, his melee attacks become more powerful, but he loses the ability to use the Morph Gun. By collecting Metal Head skull gems, gained by killing Metal Head creatures, Jak can gain additional abilities for his dark form.

I do criticize it for its shortage checkpoint systems, darker tone compared to the friendly-tone, and its high difficulty. Frame-rate is decent but isn't as smooth compared to Jak 1 because there so many more things going on the screen at the same time, depending on what you're doing in the game. This does not ruin the gameplay experience. 

The soundtrack was again composed by Josh Mancell and the new composer Larry Hopkins. The soundtrack is great and memorable, but also different from the first game's soundtrack, fitting with the change to a much darker setting, the soundtrack is also much more cinematic. Adding an "action" feel to it. 

Unlike the first game, Jak 2's soundtrack is non-linear, the background music adds instrument layers depending on what you changed on the screen. Examples like Jak pulling out the Morph Gun, riding the JET-Board, or riding a vehicle while in Haven City would each trigger an additional layer added for the vast majority of location themes, as well as a layer added sometimes when the Metal Heads attacked. At other times, such as when fighting the Krimzon Guard in Haven City, the soundtrack would change completely. Pretty Cool. 

The checkpoint systems are long meaning if it takes you 10-12 minutes to get you to point A to almost to Point B, then you die you have to go all the way back and repeat.

My main criticism is the high difficulty, no no I'm not a pussy cat. I like challenging games (Halo 2 Legendary) but not to the point where it's very aggravating and frustrating instead of fun and challenging. But the game is rewarding after you complete these highly difficult takes from missions to mini-games, in return you get Precursor Orbs and a certain amount will give you bonuses and extras such as cheats, crazy mods, replayable scenes, and more. 

Though I did enjoy the first one more for its sweet charm, BUT I do love Jak 2 in its own right, it's a great sequel with a great wealth of extras and ultimate value; it's one of the best PS2 games ever. A very polished one.

Recommended for Big Boys who love a great challenge.

8/10


Jak 3

"Dark, dirty, dangerous... I'm beginning to like this war."

Released in 2004, the game is set one year after the events of Jak II. Jak 3 largely focuses on the Wasteland, a large desert only briefly referred to in the previous entry in the series as being completely uninhabited and inhospitable. Jak has been exiled from society and must find his own destiny in the Wasteland.

The game sometimes feels like an "expansion" than a sequel because of its recycled assets, but that doesn't ruin the game itself. In the Wasteland, you'll obviously see some cultural references to Dune and Mad Max. (Nice touch). The newest addition is the variety of combat vehicles only used for the Wasteland, which are a lot better than the ones in Haven City. Speaking of the latter, you can return to Haven City with a few new additions added.

 Like its predecessor, the gameplay of Jak 3 is a blend of platforming, driving, and gun combat. The player is led through the story as they complete missions, assigned by the various characters in the game. Missions can consist of anything from defeating particular enemies, reaching a specific location, or completing a puzzle. Except for timed or otherwise linear missions, the player is free to explore the game world as they see fit.

Like the previous game, there are also cheats made available as the player progresses, you can upgrade weapons, flip the game world around into a mirror image of itself, or grant the player invincibility. After the game has been completed, the Hero Mode option is made accessible, which, when purchased, allows the player to replay the game at a higher difficulty level, but with all previously unlocked cheats and extras still available. You can replay cutscenes and listen to audio commentaries from the developers of Naughty Dog. Just like Jak 2, the frame-rate isn't as smooth but still eye-pleasing. It will drop if there are way too many things going on screen, but this does not affect gameplay.

Like its predecessor, the soundtrack was composed by Josh Mancell and Larry Hopkins. Jak 3, unlike Jak II, does not feature moments in which additional layers to the soundtrack were added based on Jak's current status (equipping a weapon or driving a vehicle), instead featuring more consistent soundtracks. Like the other 2 soundtracks, it's amazing, very original, and memorable. In 2019, Limited Run games released the soundtrack in a 3-disc CD set. 

Jak 3 is an improvement over Jak 2, it's a great sequel with tons of stuff to do with amazing production values and one of the nicest visuals for a PS2 game that adds an incredible value to your hard-earned time and money. The wacky humor is funny, as always puts a smile on your face, a well-told story, easier difficulty, tons of unlockable secrets, audio commentaries, varied gameplay types, this game is art and a technical achievement that has proved its merits. All I can give you is my highest recommendation.

8.5/10


"This is a no hover zone!" 

The Jak & Daxter Trilogy proved what the Sony Playstation 2 is capable of with the Emotion Engine and Graphics Systhser and it certainly did, they're one of the best games for the system and all 3 games are power by a game engine called Kinetica. You can still purchase them for the Playstation 2, or on PS3 with the Jax & Daxter Collection. The games were released on PS4 digitally, but the price is high and the physical editions were released by Limited Run games for a limited amount of copies. The PS3 and PS4 versions are nearly identical to the original PS2 versions. If your not a fan of digital purchases or cannot afford a copy. Ask the Duck.  Emulation can be your best friend. 😉

There are 3 more Jak & Daxter games, Daxter, Jax X, and The Lost Frontier, but I have not played or reviewed them yet. 

Cheers, 
Æ

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