Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy still stands up as one of the better games to be released on the Playstation 2 and it holds a special place for me as one of the better games I’ve ever played…and replayed.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy happens to be one of my all time favourite games, and so with the imminent re-release of the Jak and Daxter series for the Playstation 4 it seemed as good a time as any to finally review it. Jak and Daxter was developed by Naughty Dog, famous for also developing Crash Bandicoot, a game about a famous marsupial which has also recently seen a re-release for the PlayStation 4.
The game follows Jak and Daxter, the titular protagonists of the game who stumble across a horde of lurkers and their dark Eco masters (Gol and Maia Acheron) while sneaking over to the forbidden Misty Island. While there Daxter, the loudmouthed one is startled and falls into a dark Eco pit and is transformed into an Ottsel (a fictional combination of an otter and a weasel). They managed to escape but are now tasked with the tricky situation of finding a dark Eco sage (who at this point they don’t know is evil) to try and turn Daxter back and trying to save the world from the dark Eco threat, you know just basic hero stuff.
The Precursor Legacy is a combination of platforming and brawling, where you need to collect Precursor orbs and power cells in order to unlock items and progress through the various areas. You also interact with items left by the Precursors and over the course of this game and the later Instalments in the franchise you unlock the secrets of the Precursors.
Overall this game received a decent reception but the strength of this game truly lies in the graphics and design, a lot of critics think and I agree that this game had some of the best looking graphics at the time, and it also did something that hadn’t really been done before, rather than loading screens and segmented level areas Jak and Daxter was a seamless, open environment where you could look back at where you’d been and see where you were going, no rendering fog like a certain survival horror game series I won’t name.
Now on the face of it this game is similar to other adventure platformers like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Banjo-Kazooie, and some people might initially be underwhelmed by it because these games all share some core mechanics and they’d be thinking what does this game offer me that they don’t already but I think this game stands out because of its engaging and enjoyable storyline and the seamless environment adds to immersion which is a vital component to the enjoyment of games.
As I mentioned Jak and Daxter is a platformer, and you make progress in the game by climbing and jumping your way across the map and collecting items in order to literally buy your way past certain roadblocks in the game. It does makes me miss Moneybags (from Spyro) because at least he did it in person.
And what would a platformer be without items to collect. I honestly think humans are descended from birds not apes because it seems all we want to do is collect the next shiny thing so much that we put it in all our games.
Speaking of which, you collect a variety of things throughout the game and each thing is used for something specific, perhaps the most abundant item in the game other than Eco (which I will explain in a moment) are Precursor orbs (most of the orbs are in plain sight usually in a trail but they can also be hidden and require a little more effort to uncover) and they act as an in game currency, you use them to purchase the main item in the game; Power Cells.
Moving on to them, power cells are vitally important to progressing in the game, you use them to activate old machinery scattered around the environment which will help you to progress i.e. powering a levitation device which moves an obstacle to moving onto the next area. Precursor orbs aren’t the only way of collecting power cells, you also get them by defeating certain enemies and doing side missions for other people. If only it was that easy in real life to achieve your goals.
While talking about power cells it’s also relevant to mention Scout flies, little robots designed by Keira Hagai to find Power Cells, unfortunately they don’t really get to complete their job because the scouts sent to each area were captured by Lurkers and trapped in locked boxes, which you open via a dive attack that instantly makes you think of games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. There are 112 scouts throughout the game, with 7 of them trapped in each of the 16 levels. The Scouts will give up a power cell once you’ve freed each of them in a given level and they make for a relatively painless to get power cell on each level.
Now I mentioned Eco, this lies somewhere between a collectible and a power up in this game and it comes in a few different varieties which I will cover here. The most abundant form and arguably the most basic is Green Eco (which restores health) but you also have Blue Eco (this happens to be my favourite and it has the power to briefly increase Jak’s speed as well as drawing any precursor orbs and/or clusters of Eco towards him), Red Eco (which temporarily increases Jak’s strength), Yellow Eco (which gives Jak the ability to fire energy blasts from his hands for a short amount of time), Dark Eco (which is harmful and should be avoided, although you do learn to like it in later games) and the final type of Eco in the game is Light Eco (Jak never actually gets to use this but Daxter has to decide whether to use this to help out his buddy and battle the final boss or to change him back into a human)
Fighting is another major aspect to this game, Jak can glide punch, double jump (pretty much a staple for a platformer) and do a pretty mean rapid spinning kick. He can use these to fight Eco monsters and interact/explore with the world.
While I mention fighting Jak can take damage so you need to keep an eye on his life metre. Enemies aren’t the only way to get hurt however falls from a great height his either kill you or cut your life metre down and you also need to be careful what you touch, certain substances such as lava which also damage Jak (it’s weird having to say ‘don’t touch lava’ but there you go)
Platforming and brawling and collecting aren’t the only aspects of this game, it has a distinct racing component that was as enjoyable as it was challenging. In these racing parts you get to fly An A-Grav Zoomer, which is a hoverbike designed and built by Samos Hagai’s (The Green Sage) daughter and Jak’s implied love interest Keira Hagai. The zoomer allows the player to travel across seemingly inaccessible areas such as over lava or water.
I mentioned bosses earlier and in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy you’ll come up against three throughout the game. The first is a dark eco plant and it presents a physical obstacle you need to remove to continue through the jungle area. The next cyborg named Klaww who you need to defeat in order to to pass through the mountain area and the final boss of the game is an ancient giant robot (a presumed leftover from the Precursors) that was deactivated by the game’s antagonists. Upon defeating the robot the credits roll and you complete the game. They bosses aren’t the only foes in the game however, you’ll beat a fair few ‘lurkers’ before the game is done.
So I hope I’ve made it clear that Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is just one of those games that you need to play, It’s a strong story and a brilliant core mechanic and I believe that it earns a 4/5 for its replayability and capacity to incite an almost overwhelming amount of nostalgia.