In the early 2000s, Naughty Dog was done with making Crash Bandicoot games, and wanted to make a new IP. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, or Jak and Daxter for short, was born. Instead of being a hallway style platformer like Crash, the game is a collect a thon, where Jak and his companion Daxter have to collect Power Cells and precursor orbs. The game is very unique, but is over 10 years old now, so how has it aged?
First off, the graphics of the game still look great today. The PS2 was an advanced console, and there’s a reason that it’s the highest selling console of all time. The character models are a bit polygonal for today’s standards, but aren’t an eyesore. The worlds are very beautiful and detailed. This isn’t necessarily graphic related, but there are little to no load times in the entire game. This is done by having the game show Jak and Daxter travel to each area, and instead of stopping the game and loading, it loads the areas as you travel there and unloads the area behind you. Overall, the graphics of Jak and Daxter are very nice, and hold up pretty well.
The gameplay of Jak and Daxter is pretty standard for 3D platformers. Defeat enemies, collect small collectables, collect main collectables. In this case, the enemies are easily defeated with a punch or spin, the small collectables are the many orbs scattered around the world that you can use to buy more of the main collectables, which are power cells. These power cells are used to power your vehicles and other electronic devices to help you advance in the world. The several different levels vary in setting. There’s a sandy beach, a forest, a snowy tundra, a sunken laboratory, a dark island, a spider cave, and more. The vehicles are very fun to use and don’t feel shoehorned in at all. They are used only when necessary and are very fun. There is a little bit of backtracking, but it’s not jarring. There are only a few boss fights in the game, but they’re fun and are rewarding, giving you a power cell with defeat. There is also Eco, one of the biggest aspects of the game. There are several different types of Eco, including yellow, blue, red, green, and more. Some Eco hurts Jak and Daxter, while other helps. Dark Eco is very dangerous and hurts the protagonists, while blue eco makes them very fast, yellow makes Jak able to shoot beams from his hands, and green Eco heals him. Eco is a plot point for the entire series, and for a good reason. Eco is talked about it almost every cutscene of the game. The platforming isn’t too hard and the variety of the levels is a breath of fresh air in gaming. Each level has a set of challenges that requires Jak and Daxter to use all of their abilities to complete them. Some of the later levels are a bit challenging, but the only level I flat out dislike is the Spider Cave at the end of the game. The spider cave is just not fun. The level drags and has a very boring design, sans the tower in the main part of the level. One of the other issues I have in the game is the amount of precursor orbs, and how some of them are really difficult to find. You could be missing three or four orbs, and have no idea where they are in a level, and spend hours looking for them, which is a completionist’s nightmare. This is the only real gameplay issue I have, however, and the rest of the game makes me smile ear to ear.
The controls of Jak and Daxter are solid. I have few real issues since the controls are fluid. I can easily get around each level, and the only blame I can think of for any mess-ups is my old controller. I guess roll jumping can be a bit finicky, but that also might be my controller. It seems that you can only roll jump if you press the X button at a very specific time, and if not pressed in time, you don’t jump at all. This sucks when you’re roll jumping across a pit. This is the only issue I can think of, and it might be my controller, since it’s third party. The controls are great for the most part.
The music of the game is very unremarkable, unfortunately. I only remember a few tracks from the game, which is surprising, since I remember almost every song from the Crash Bandicoot trilogy. Though the music is unremarkable, this doesn’t make it bad. I just personally don’t care for it that much. The beach level theme is the only song I can recall besides the boring title theme. The music is in my opinion the worst part of the game.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is a great platformer on the Playstation 2. Naughty Dog showed with this game that they weren’t a one trick pony, and have continued to make critically acclaimed titles since. Jak and Daxter has aged well.