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Review: Jak & Daxter Collection (Vita)

Posted by on June 18th, 2013 | 27 Comments | Tags:

This Jak & Daxter Collection is the first of many classic remakes to come to Vita following a quasi-recent release on PS3. Let’s hope future classic collections on Vita are better than this one. What is promising is that this is in fact three classic PS2 games with three individual sets of trophies with three platinums.

The Jak & Daxter Collection on Vita is essentially an identical release to the PS3 version as far as content is concerned. Mass Media even left the option to turn controller vibration on and off. Last time I checked, Vita didn’t have this feature. The main menu of the game has Jak standing patiently at the right side of the screen. He will change his wardrobe when you scroll through Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II and Jak 3. And that’s about as cool as the front end of the UI gets. Of course, if you’re going to play this classic trilogy, then you should start from the beginning.

Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2001. Prior to to creating the Jak series, Naughty Dog had great success with the Crash Bandicoot series and all that box breaking 3D platforming madness. Jak & Daxter is a masterfully done forward progression of Naughty Dog’s platforming roots. While Crash was stuck in a forward runner or side-scroller, Jak can move in any direction in a much more open world. Where load screens were a common thing for PS one games like Crash, Jak introduced a giant open world that did not need load screens. The next time we saw such innovation was later on PS3 with the Uncharted series.

Keeping the focus on Jak, the original was the basis for the story, characters, and elements of their world called light and dark ico. This Vita version of Jak looks good, not great, but it is over 10 years old after all. One thing that has bugged me during certain sections of the game is button input lag. This made the fishing mini-game in the first village nearly impossible, which would have been an issue if I didn’t actually pass it.

Double jumping into a spin to get the extra jump distance needed for some sections is also sometimes hit or miss. The PS3 version does not have this problem. On PS3, when you press jump, jump – Jak double jumps. On Vita, when you press jump, jump – he sometimes double jumps. Other signature Jak moves also need to be premeditated to successfully execute. This is unacceptable and adds unnecessary difficulty to the game.

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Booting up Jak II, I half expected the same framerate issues as in the first, but was pleasantly surprise when it actually ran rather smoothly. This is even more shocking given that Jak II is a giant GTA-style game instead of a traditional semi-linear platforming romp. This is one of the biggest reasons any fan of the first Jak & Daxter game would not really get into Jak II. But give it time and the freedom will grow on you.

The biggest problem I had with Jak II, and this was noticeable immediately once gameplay began after the intro cut scenes, is muddy graphics. There is just no detail in the game and maybe this is how they managed better framerate. I had to boot up the PS3 version to see if this was really something to mention. Oh boy, it’s worlds sharper on PS3. Just looking at the Jak II character model, all the details are blurred and blended together on Vita.

Since Vita lacks the lower shoulder buttons of the PS2 or PS3 controllers, these button functions have been remapped to the rear touch pad. Swipe up/down on the left half to make the HUD appear or hide. Swipe up/down on the right half to enter first person view when standing still or to drive cars high or low.

From the platforming, to circumnavigating the world in the vehicles, to playing the hoverboard challenges — everything is just harder to do on the Vita. The analog sensitivity feels very unforgiving. It could be simply because the Vita analog sticks are smaller or just the way Mass Media tailored the inputs.

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Jak III is the best looking of the three Jak games on Vita. But we’re back to piss poor framerate, especially when compared to the PS3 version. Again, the main game is controlled with physical buttons but there are no L2/R2. These button functions include HUD pop up and hide for L2, and the fixed first person camera view to look around. Just swipe up on the left half or right half of the rear touch panel to trigger these L2/R2 button functions respectively.

Navigating the map accessible from the pause menu with the front touch screen is very laggy. Despite this, I actually enjoyed Jak III a tad more than Jak II because there is much less pointless navigation between missions. The gameplay is far more diverse with riding the bipedal creatures, missions, and the buggies. Yeah, just in case you forgot, Jak III has dune buggies a la Jak X. There is even a Cribs-style garage filled with different models to unlock. Some of the races can be quite challenging given the terrain and opponents bumping Jak to face the wrong direction.

The precursor orb pick-ups are now scattered more randomly (but not) across the world. Whereas in Jak 1 and 2 they were noticeably in-line with the linear gameplay sections. In Jak III, these collectibles are just everywhere including hidden inside destructible vases or baskets. But at least they kept the collectibles in the game unlike Sly 3. Although, a Jak game with no precursor orbs is not really a Jak game.

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This collection has extremely inconsistent performance issues. The games themselves are a blast from the past and super enjoyable to play if you can overlook framerate, lag, and muddy graphics. The aspect ratio has been altered, especially noticeable in Jak III when jumping as Jak double jumps off the top of the screen. This is also not an issue on PS3. One thing that bugged me that is apparent in both is there is no way to go from one Jak game into another without completely quitting the game and booting it back up.

If you’re in the market for a classic Naughty Dog platformer, look no further than this Jak & Daxter Collection. But if you also own a PS3 and want the better version, then buy it on PS3. The Vita version is rough around the edges and not like the sharp PS3 version. What this game needs is a sizable patch. Looks can be deceiving, and good performance should not be a privilege, but a requirement when handling Naughty Dog’s wares.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.

General Info

  • Button input lag is more than noticeable
  • Framerate is choppy, most noticeably in Jak 1 and 3
  • Jak II graphics are muddy, like a straight PS2 port
  • Not a fan of remapping the L2/R2 functions to the rear touch pad

  • Eqic_DodoO

    I was really looking forward to this game!
    But after reading your review this games seems like a mess.
    I hope they can patch the most issues!

  • Elvick

    Still picking it up

  • Elvick

    Well, considering this; http://youtu.be/GT4Ppbg257g?t=7m20s it’s nice that this (and the PS3 version) exist at all.

    Still picking it up. R&C FFA was still playable for me, despite it’s blatant flaws and inferior quality to the PS3 version.

  • OTHERWISECIV

    Well, that’s a shame. Been looking forward to this, but probably won’t be picking this up now.

    • KosmoCrisis

      Get it on PS3. It’s $13 on Amazon! 10 times better.

  • Chase the Ace

    I’m hoping for R&C collection to come to Vita. I’ve been waiting a long time for a real R&C game on the go.

    • KosmoCrisis

      I’ll gladly take the Sly collection or God of War, OMG Shadow and Ico! How about the Splinter Cell, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, or Prince of Persia Collections!?

  • Devin Hudson

    I almost pre-ordered this game, but now I’m definitely glad I didn’t. I never picked up the PS3 version because there didn’t seem like much reason to replay them over the originals, but the added benefit of portability attracted me to possibly getting this version. But with all of the issues plaguing it, I’d probably only pick it up if it was dirt cheap if I pick it up at all.

  • ariessiren

    Should have been cross play. karma

    • Maggard

      I was hoping for Cross-Buy. Downside of games giving Cross features is the trophies are usually a single set.

  • rize84

    I don’t have any issues. Then again this is my first play through of jak and daxter. I’d recommend it

  • Dave

    Just picked up ps3 version for $10 at GameStop . It’s a shame about the graphics being so bad. That’s just lazy. They should have put L2/R2 on front touchpad ala sly cooper. I dont seem to have a problem with that layout. Rear touchpad does not work replacing physical buttons. I really wanted this game on vita but I think I will skip it until its much cheaper than $30.

  • jspillen

    It’s damn good for a handheld game… Sony just blew it by hyping the ‘console experience on the go’ thing too hard in the beginning.

    It’s better than anything else portable, but nope, not as good as the playstation home console.

    I bought it today and am enjoying the hell out of it so far. That’s what’s important…not that it looks better than my non-portable PS3.

    Very odd for the reviewer to have spent so much time in comparision instead of just enjoying a great game… on the go no less !!!

    • KosmoCrisis

      When I thought about how to go into this review, I figured that there have got to be hundreds of reviews out there about each of these Jak games since they each launched beginning in 2001. Why would I review them again after over 10 years? So, instead, I decided the best thing to do would be to compare it to the PS3 version that came out earlier. I mean, there is a big enough gap between these two versions that they could have been indiscernible in quality. I was appalled when I started playing each one and the issues were glaring.

      Still, as a commenter on N4G put it, I was generous on the score. My written review focuses on the comparisons between this Vita version and the same collection on PS3, but the score is a combination of the writings and my enjoyment of this classic collection today.

    • Maggard

      I am curious. What would the PS3 score have been?

      Remember, I am looking for the value of the PS3 release of the HD collection as I’m already sold on the IP and Naughty Dog.

    • KosmoCrisis

      You should also understand that I have been blown away by Vita versions of PS3 games like Need For Speed Hot Pursuit, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal. All games that showed absolutely no limitations in any way when played on Vita versus PS3.

      Pointing out the PS3′s inability to be portable does not make a great defense for a crappy port that should not have been. PS, “just enjoying a great game” is not something we can always do when reviewing a game. PPS, I’m also a former tester and noticing a game’s flaws is now something I must live with everyday. We have a saying, “Once a tester, always a tester.”

    • Maggard

      Dang, I’d hoped to squeeze by without trying to find a way to get Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for the PS-Vita. If only it had been Cross-Buy….
      Now that I read the list and I’m missing one of the three mentioned, it’s back on the wish list.

    • Maggard

      I enjoyed the review style, as there are plenty of reviews for the series and I am wondering which collection is best. Next, I am deciding if both are worth the investment.

      I understand 3/5 might be lower than expected, but it looks as opportunity was loss to make a top-notch PS-Vita release. Individuals new to the series are able to see the PS3 version might be a better release to enjoy the adventures. Those familiar may get a bit frustrated with the weaker areas of this version. Even though, a 3/5 has always seemed solid, good games with some concerns. I’ve found myself happy with games earning this score as long as I enjoy the game style or the IP.

      Unfortunately, my preferred platform took some hits here. Returning today, I am glad to see your praise for the PS-Vita release. This helps me know, I should get it as funds allow…and time. An additional point which would of benefited me, would be your score for the PS-Vita release. If time permits, perhaps one fore each game, too.

      Another point this style of review for a mobile release, is getting a read on the worth of owning both. Seeing the PS3 release is stronger is a few key areas, I’ll also try and get a copy in time also. If it had been behind in value, I’d stick with just the PS-Vita until one of the kids asked for it, or I found a great price.

  • Elvick

    Having played it (platinum’d J&D, and just got guns in Jak II). I think these ports are getting bad raps.

    If I see it called “unplayable” again, I will scream. In J&D I didn’t have many problems at all, some framerate drops but only really in one area at the Beach. Otherwise didn’t notice at all. The only large issue with this game was grabbing moving platforms. You’d tend to just slide right off. Made the final area harder to do. Since you had to just land square on the platforms.

    But hey, improving your skillz isn’t really a bad thing. Jak II’s rear touch is unresponsive for me, but otherwise runs fine thus far.

    Not perfect, but fun. And definitely fun enough that I’m annoyed to see, on other sites, many call it unplayable.

    • Maggard

      Once your finished playing the series on PS-Vita, please let me know your thoughts. What score should this release receive?

  • Matdub

    Mistake on Psn and I picked this sucker up for free. Not worth even that. Played each one for five minutes. Number is 2 is okay but no worth 3gb go card space. Erased!

    • Maggard

      I envy your windfall.

  • adm

    I buy the game because im a big fan of J&D series but i found thouse issues decribed on top and yes they are really annoying especially when you are a big fan, anyway i hope they fix this soon!

  • Maggard

    Did you get a chance to pick up play? If so, what do you think? Any preference to one version (PS-Vita) over the other (PS3) by chance?

    What benefits are their to having both? I like the idea of more Platinum trophies (says one with none). Anything else to make it worth buying each?

    I lean toward the PS-Vita route when able as using the mobile is easier on me. I’m trying to judge where to put this in my wish list.

    • Elvick

      Well, the PS3 version is definitely better. There’s no denying that.

      However, I’ve had a lot of fun with Jak & Daxter on PS Vita. There were a few framerate drops that were really noticeable, early on, in one specific area (the first beach, on the opposite side of the entrance to it). Not sure why, but it always drops over there.

      Otherwise runs fine, but there’s some grabbing issues with moving platforms. Nothing skill can’t overcome though. Just land your jumps better.

      I had little issue platinuming J&D again on Vita.

      I found it a lot of fun to play anywhere.

      Jak II, I have problems with as a game. So it’s hard to really get into that, but the platforming is smooth as butter on Vita. Some framerate drops, nothing majority, while touring the tediously huge open world.

      The rear touch doesn’t work that great for the ascent/decent controls or using your dark eco powers. Front touch would have been better IMO.

      Touch controls make the menus a lot easier to navigate in all the games though.

      Have yet to beat Jak II, so haven’t tried Jak 3 (ever…). So can’t really say how that runs.

      I’d say if you can overlook a few faults, Vita is great. Especially if you’re like me and value portability. If you want the more polished experience, PS3. (though the fishing thing on PS3 is really annoying in J&D, but was easy on Vita due to touch controls for it)

  • mat

    Mistake on PSN (maybe because I had retail copy? cross buy mistake) so I returned my retail copy and erased the game as well. Even for free I don’t want to play this garbage.

  • MrHomer1

    do u have cheats for jak 2 like unlimited orbs