Platinum Tracker – Jak 3 (#36)

My adventure with the HD remake of the Jak and Daxter trilogy on the Vita came to an end. I finally beat Jak 3, which I enjoyed more than Jak 2, even though the games look, sound and play very similarly. Naughty Dog pretty much reused the engine from the previous game, upscaling the models and upgrading the audio-visuals. Unfortunately, the Vita versions suffer from dramatic frame rate issues, especially with many characters on the screen at the same time. Still, the visual quality is not the most important thing in this 10-year old title and there’s no denying that the game is fun to play, with diverse missions, challenging platforming sections and cool boss battles. And you should know by now how I feel about boss battles…

One advantage Jak 3 has over Jak 2 is that I didn’t spend most of the time navigating Haven City with the zoomers. Instead, Jak and Daxter have an array of buggies at their disposal, which they use to travel around the Wasteland. The driving is still not perfect, but it’s much better than in Jak 2, and the Wasteland, as the name suggests, has limited number of walls and buildings you can crash into. Even though our heroes go back to Haven City in the second act of the game and need to use the zoomers, the war made the city much easier to zoom through and the distances between missions are usually much shorter than in previous game. What it boils down to is that there are shorter downtimes between missions, making the game much more enjoyable.

The main heroes of one of the twists in the game. Let me keep the 10-year old secret.
The main heroes of one of the twists in the game. Let me keep the 10-year old secret.

On top of the new vehicles, Jak’s weapons are also upgraded. Each of the four types of ammunition can now be fired in three different ways, each more powerful than the previous one, but using up more ammo. The different modes prove very useful in different combat situations, where Jak is able to push back or defeat swarms of enemies at once, using the more potent attacks, or conserve the ammunition when combat is not as difficult. To be honest, I would even say that the weapons are overpowered, which can especially be felt in the latter sections of the game, where Jak has no problems plowing through tens of enemies who drop enough ammo to support overuse of the more powerful shooting modes. Adding the fact that the new Light Eco powers include a healing power, makes Jak basically invincible in combat. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because you don’t get stuck trying to beat a single mission over and over again and the game moves much faster. Even though everything felt easier and more streamlined than Jak 2, it still took me almost 17 hours of gameplay to get the Platinum trophy and I didn’t do that much grinding, so the game is not a short one.

The usual blue ring mission. Much easier than in the previous games.
The usual blue ring mission. Much easier than in the previous games.

I don’t want to go into the story too much. Let me just say that Jak’s world faces complete destruction at the hands of the Dark Makers, who roam the universe conquering planets. They ally with Errol, who it turns out wasn’t defeated in Jak 2, and it’s up to Jak and Daxter to save the day and save the world. Most of the old friends make an appearance in the game, including Samos and Keira as well as Torn, Ashelin and Sig. The Wasteland introduces two major new characters – Damas and Kleiver. All of them play a smaller or bigger role in the story, which to me feels as convoluted as ever in Jak and Daxter games but produces a couple of interesting twists, which make it interesting to follow.

I thought I was doing just fine...
I thought I was doing just fine

Overall, I enjoyed the game much more than Jak 2. Jak 3 is much faster and more streamlined than Jak 2. It focuses more on the missions themselves rather than on mindless zooming around the world going from one mission to another. I enjoyed the variety of tasks included in the game, which made it fun to play and kept me interested. It’s very hard to compare this title to The Precursor Legacy. The series evolved even more from a relatively simple platformer game to basically a third person action/adventure game. Still, if I had to choose my favorite of the three, I would probably go with the original, exactly because of its simplicity. Nevertheless, I would recommend all three games. Even though there are some technical issues, they are fun titles from two console generations ago which offer gameplay style that isn’t too common anymore.

Less zoomin' ...
Less zoomin’ …

... more explodin'
… more explodin’

Memorable Trophies

Obviously, I’m not done with a game until I get all the trophies. There are 47 of them in Jak 3, most of which deal with specific missions but some of them are interesting enough that they deserve a look. Let’s dive in.

trophy_bronze Railing at the Wind
Travel through Catacomb Subrails

There are two mission in the game where Jak and Daxter ride a vehicle down a tube and need to avoid explosives and holes which may destroy it. The missions are not really that special but they seem very current, taking into account the fact that TxK got released on the Vita just this week. The same Tempest-like mechanics is applied, with TxK being a direct successor of the old Tempest 2000 released on Atari Jaguar. The missions are OK in Jak 3, although the constant explosions make it sometimes hard to see what’s coming ahead, which often ends in the vehicle falling down the hole and blowing up. Still, it’s not that bad and after a couple of attempts it’s easy to remember where to go in order to avoid the obstacles. The same mission type in Jak 2 took me much longer to complete.

plat_jak3_i006

trophy_silver Bossing the Bot Boss
Defeat Veger’s Precursor Robot

The first boss in Jak 3 bears some resemblance to the final boss in Jak and Daxter: Precursor Legacy. Veger, who has a personal grudge against Jak, sends the Precursor Robot to defeat our hero but it’s not that difficult to destroy it. A pretty standard mix of jumping over lasers and defeating small groups of enemies, followed by exploiting the boss’ vulnerability, which in this case are mine carts placed above it. Repeat three times, each time jumping over more lasers and defeating more enemies, and the boss goes down. Piece of cake for platforming veterans but still infinitely more enjoyable than riding the zoomer…

plat_jak3_i005

trophy_bronze Black Thumb Too
Kill Dark Plants in Forest

Another throwback to the first game. Even the trophy name indicates that Naughty Dog revisited their idea from Precursor Legacy. Fortunately, this time the Dark Plants don’t regrow… or at least I didn’t give them enough time to do so. I remember zooming to the green eco source and back in the first game, trying to kill the Dark Plants, which kept growing back all the time. Still, I like the idea of taking an interesting idea, making it work better, and presenting it again to the player. This is a running theme of Jak 3, which seems to have learned a lot from the mistakes of the two previous games.

trophy_bronze Shoot ’em High
Defend Spargus from Attack using the touchscreen
trophy_bronze Clear Vision
Activate Astro-Viewer in Forest using the touchscreen

Those two trophies are tricky if you don’t pay attention. They have been modified specifically for the Vita and require the player to use the touchscreen. Truth be told, doing it any other way makes very little sense. Aiming the weapons using the analog stick doesn’t work that well – the controls are too sensitive. This is not Killzone: Mercenary, after all. Using the touchscreen makes it much easier. However, the problem with touching the screen is that most of it is then covered by the hand so you need to stop shooting once in a while to recalibrate. Touchscreen can also be used in other missions, such as ‘Blow Open Metal Head Tower’ where Jak is helping Torn transport eco. Shooting down moving targets using the analog stick is almost impossible.

Feels like Top Gun
Feels like Top Gun
trophy_silver Batter the Boss
Beat Cyber-Errol Boss

Boss number two. This time it’s our old ‘friend’ Errol, who just doesn’t seem to be willing to give up even after all the humiliation in Haven City. He didn’t learn his lesson, though, because beating him again was as easy as taking a candy from a baby. The bombs he was throwing exploded too late to hurt Jak and the dark monsters he used as his minions were no match against Jak’s powerful guns. Even the trick with removing tiles from the floor didn’t work – Jak can jump, remember? And when opportunity knocked, our hero sent the little robots up towards Errol and they exploded in his face… three times. Too bad, our nemesis managed to get away. Well, I guess we’ll see him again.

trophy_gold Taking Him Down
Destroy Final Boss

Look, here he is. However, even the Dark Makers technology is of no use when Jak and Daxter are your opponents. The final boss fight in Jak 3 is divided into three stages, first of which was the most frustrating part of the entire game. Even though using the Wasteland buggies to get from one place to another is much better than riding the zoomer, when it comes to precision driving and aiming the buggy cannons at the same time, there are still issues. In order to fight Cyber Errol, Jak and Daxter have to stop the giant Terraformer he is using and this can be done by shooting 14 targets placed on the robot’s legs. Unfortunately, both the shooting and the driving require very high levels of precision and with all the skidding on the sand and water obstacles, it’s not that simple. It took me around 7 attempts to finally take the bugger down and I was a bit lucky, hitting at least two targets driving backwards and shooting blindly behind me. The targets are very small and it feels like there is no automatic aim support to hit them more easily. Also, the legs take huge steps which means that with only one or two targets left, there’s more trying to catch up with the monster than actually trying to shoot it down.

That's one large Terraformer
That’s one large Terraformer

... and Daxter is having second thoughts about fighting it.
… and Daxter is having second thoughts about fighting it.

Once the robot is down, our heroes climb what’s left of it, destroying several enemies on their way to face Errol for the last time. The final fight is again very easy because of the powerful weapons Jak has at his disposal. It’s enough to shoot the red grenade or the yellow turret and all of the monsters get killed, leaving enough ammo for the next wave. After each wave Errol reveals a weak spot at the back of the Terraformer’s head which can be easily hit with the most powerful, purple gun.

trophy_bronze The Orbiter of Faith
Collect 50 Precursor Orbs
trophy_silver The Orbiter of Taste
Collect 300 Precursor Orbs
trophy_gold The Orbiter of Record
Collect 600 Precursor Orbs

Similarly to Jak 2, there are no Orb counters that show how many items are left to be discovered in particular locations or any other help that might lead the player to find them on his or her own. I managed to find around 100 Precursor Orbs myself, including completing the Precursor challenges available in Spargus and Haven City. Ultimately, I decided against following a guide and wasting several hours to find all of them. I chose to waste one hour, instead and exploit the following glitch, similar to the one from Jak 2.

plat_jak3_g000
Start any Precursor challenge that asks you to find a golden Precursor Orb. Those orbs are worth 3 ‘brown’ orbs.

plat_jak3_g001
When you find it, use the back touchpad to start up Jak’s Eco powers but don’t unleash any of them. Keep him crouched relatively close to the orb.

plat_jak3_g002
Press ‘Start’ and restart the mission from the menu.

plat_jak3_g003
Jak will activate the Dark Eco power and consume the orb, making the game add 3 to your total count. However, the mission will be restarted with the orb still in place so you can repeat this procedure until you reach 600 Precursor Orbs. Instead of doing the trick with the Eco power you can also jump above the Orb and pause the game with Jak still in the air but this is more risky. Remember that once the Orb is legitimately gathered, you no longer can restart the mission. Either load a savegame (it is recommended to save every once in a while) or find a different challenge.

Platinum Trophy

plat_jak3_t000
trophy_platinum Fait Accompli
For Stamina and Time On Your Hands and insatiable need for completion

Check out my Platinum Tracker posts on the previous games in the Jak and Daxter series:
Platinum Tracker – Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (#33)
Platinum Tracker – Jak 2: Renegade (#34)

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3 thoughts on “Platinum Tracker – Jak 3 (#36)

  1. Hey glad you enjoyed this game. This is actually my all-time favorite video game followed closely by Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Like you said they are hard to compare. I love 3 for all the different playtypes and the greater story element. I thought how they handled the precursor twist in particular was a great reward for those who had been following the series. And while it didn’t have as much platforming as the first I really loved all the different ways they incorporated platforming. You have Light Flight, Daxter sections, hoverboard sections and even the Dune Hopper. Plus the regular Jak platforming sections like the Monk Temple are really awesome. But I still love the original for focus on more pure platforming.

    Anyway, great blog. You really captured why I thought this was an improvement over Jak 2 which I liked just not as much as 1 and 3. Funny I discovered this blog right before you wrote about this game!

    1. Hey. Thanks for another comment! Based on your Twitter images I though you might like the series 😉

      I wrote about it in the first part but I started playing the game thinking I would just check it out for a couple of minutes and I ended up beating all 3 of them in 2 months and I really enjoyed them.

      I understand what you mean about the different playtypes but to me it sometimes felt too much, especially in Jak 2. In 3 they balanced it out better but I could still do without the on-the-rail shooting missions, for example. J&D:TPL focused on pure platforming much more than the following gams and that’s what I loved about it. Bosses and platforming. That’s all I need. Keep the races and most of the other vehicle-based activities.

      By the way, have you played the PSP games in the series?

      1. Yeah I’ve played them. Daxter is great. It is more of a platformer than 2 and 3, but the levels themselves are a bit more in the vein of 2/3’s linear platforming levels outside of the city than TPL’s more open zones. It obviously plays a bit different since it is Daxter, but definitely has the feel of a J&D game.

        The Lost Frontier is a little less impressive. It has a sizable vehicle component which is well done (planes this time) though not as cool as the buggies to me, but its on-foot sections just don’t have the same high quality level design of the trilogy. So it doesn’t stack up with the original three games quite as well.

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