Review: Jak and Daxter Collection Stumbles Slightly On Its Journey To PS Vita
Sony did have a novel idea when it decided to start releasing its HD collections for the PS Vita. Hey, why not? They did decent business over on the PlayStation 3, and classic older titles on the handheld certainly beat nothing at all. However, this process has gotten off to a rather slow start with Jak and Daxter Collection, a recreation of Naughty Dog's trilogy for on-the-go play.
The games aren't bad, not by any means, and those of you looking for a fun platformer for car trips or whenever you're out of the house won't be completely disappointed, as the essence of the PS2 games remains intact. However, technical performance is hard to overlook, especially considering that the system should be capable of running PS2 software with barely any problems. That's not really the case here.
With all three games – Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II and Jak III, you'll run into problems mostly with the graphics. The games aren't ugly, but the frame rate is chopped in half compared to the silky smooth PS2/PS3 games. Furthermore, the slowing-down of the action has an effect on certain button functions. For example, performing a double jump and spin kick to reach a higher platform could take a couple of tries, mainly because the gameplay isn't as pinpoint as it used to be. The controls are hardly broken, but you could tell that Naughty Dog didn't handle the processing of the games (that job was left to Mass Media).
Another thing – I just can't wrap my head around utilizing the rear touch pad when it comes to functions normally served for shoulder buttons. Sure, it's relatively easy to swipe a map on and off screen, but the inconvenience of it when you're trying to complete a mission, accidentally brushing it or whatnot, kind of gets in the way. Sony should've provided a better option to configure the controls, especially for those who weren't too fond of all the crazy touch features to begin with.
At least the games themselves continue to be a blast. The original Jak is a straight-up exploration platforming adventure, one loaded with simplistic charm and memorable characters. The tempo really picks up in Jak II, which introduces a sandbox-like world to explore and the ability to "borrow" cars if you want to get around the city faster. The finale, Jak III, also delivers on the open world front, with plenty of vehicular action to go around and cool abilities.
There are some notable features in Mass Media's treatment of Jak and Daxter Collection. The loading times are actually faster than the original PS3 release, though with the processing of the graphics, you can see where corners were cut. There are a slew of new Trophies to earn – even if you've beaten the PS3 games – and with hours' worth of content, this'll keep you playing on your Vita until the power eventually runs out. Unless you're wise enough to bring a charger, that is.
Still, I can't help but feel that the conversion process could've gone better. Jak and Daxter Collection is a decent introduction of HD collections to the PS Vita, and one fans won't mind adding to their collection when they're not playing the games at home. But it also serves as a warning sign for future collections to come, especially when it comes to in-game performance. Here's hoping the upcoming God of War HD Collections fare much better.