Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Favorite Trilogy: Jak & Daxter

   The PlayStation 2 was an important console for me.  I don’t really know why, since I’ve owned way too many crap games, but it definitely holds a large place in my heart when it comes to consoles (granted, probably not the largest).  One of the greatest games on that system is Jak & Daxter.  It’s a relatively simple platformer, but the story is fantastic and the gameplay is amazing.  Surprisingly, not many people know that J&D was actually the first game in an expansive trilogy.  The sequels were titled Jak II and Jak III, choosing to remove Daxter from the title, though not from the game (we need our comedic relief from somewhere).  Before I dive into the amazingness that is the J&D series, I’d like to preface my argument with a quick note: There are spinoffs to this series, and they aren’t that great.  One of these spinoffs is sometimes considered the fourth game of the series, “Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier.”  Those who consider this game as part of the main series are wrong, including Wikipedia. That’s right. I said it.  This game is nothing like the main three games, and the story is solidly wrapped up within the trilogy, so for the sake of this blog, I’m going to ignore this game and the two other spinoffs, and focus on just the trilogy.
   I’d rather not have to summarize each game, as the stories are crazy expansive and I don’t like to talk forever on one thing like ProtoScott does, but unfortunately, some familiarization is necessary.  Jak is a simple young lad, with a mouthy friend, Daxter.  They live in a peaceful town and life is good, until our two characters go exploring and see some baddies up to no good.  Oh, and Daxter turns into a small, ferret-like creature called an ottsel (which is apparently half weasel, half otter).   The cause of this transformation, and also a huge component in the trilogy, is a material called “eco.”  It represents a sort of life force for everything in the world.   There is also time travel in the trilogy.
   Down to what makes this trilogy great.  The story is incredible.  ‘Nuff said.  There are tons of side stories and side quests in the later sequels that develop each and every tiny character.  The first game provides an epic farmboy-turned-hero story that, while it may feel cliché, is refreshed by an incredibly vivid world and hilarious characters.  The later stories are much darker and epic.  Jak becomes fueled by dark eco and also gains some new weaponry in the form of a constantly-upgraded gun.  I really don’t want to give too much away because I believe that everyone should play this trilogy to see how the game develops from a simple platformer, to an expansive action RPG. 
   When it comes to characters, the J&D series has it all.  Each character looks fantastic and doesn’t ever come across as recycled.  Also, every single one exhibits brilliant voice acting.  The design of every baddie is also very cool. From humanoids to “metalheads,” each one provides depth and sometimes terror for the player.  Personally, it’s the voice acting that sells each character for me.  All of the voices match the look and attitude displayed by the characters, and they are also written in such a way that you feel whatever emotion they are meant to display. 
   While it’s not the best-known trilogy on any system, the J&D series is fantastic.  I’ve played through it many times in my life and it never gets old.  I laugh at every joke, despite having many of them memorized, and I know every twist and turn.  I highly recommend this game to any gamer who is a fan of action RPGs, platformers, and awesome stories.  The J&D series is worth playing, and for those who have the PS3, rumor has it that the entire series will be released for the console at some point.  Please check these games out… I beg you… You won’t regret it.

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