The Jak & Daxter series firmly planted Naughty Dog as one of the best game developers on the PlayStation 2, if not that whole generation of consoles. There is no doubt that the company are continuing that trend into the current console generation, so it was only a matter of time before this classic series was brought over and remastered in high definition. It was possibly one of the most requested HD collections, and Sony finally decided to pass the games on to Mass Media Inc. who have been hard at work porting our favourite platforming games of the last generation.
Enough time has passed since I played these games that for the most part I had forgotten a lot of what made these games fun, but also what made them frustrating. I also forgot how severely disappointed I was with the open city worlds in Jak 2 and 3. Unsurprisingly these exact emotions were brought back from playing the games all over again, and while people may have liked the fact that Jak & Daxter became more of an open-world game in the sequels, I personally, hated it. Still, that didn’t stop me from playing the games, although a little grudgingly, and overall I still like the series.
The first in the series Jak & Daxter still holds up well today, and very few games create such a detailed and open island where no matter where you go, there is something there for you to do, be that a story mission or a hidden collectable. All areas of the game are seamlessly connected, and the game stays true to Naughty Dog’s philosophy of having no load screens. Many compare it to Nintendo's Super Mario and even the developers admit to the fact that they were influenced by that game at the time. To this day Jak & Daxter is the only game like it on the Playstation consoles and the brilliant voice acting by Daxter adds much needed humor and helps to advance the story.
Jak II sees the main protagonist actually speak for once, and the game gets a whole lot darker. There is now the addition of an open city, something that was made popular at the time by the Grand Theft Auto series. Gone is the colorful island that I adored so much, replaced by a city with cars and smog. The city is also much bigger than the previous game, and you may assume bigger is better? Not in this case though. You find yourself constantly traveling from mission to mission in vehicles that hover and have terrible handling. However, at least you are usually rewarded with a greatly animated and voiced cutscene to take on your mission. Which are usually based outside of the city and provide a minor change in color palette. The length of the game is drastically increased due to the traveling required and it can easily take upwards of 20 hours to complete, and more to collect the massive amount of hidden items.