A sequel is supposed to be an improvement upon the original. It’s supposed to take what was good in the first game, expand it and refine it. Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was an adventure-platformer with a charming world and fun characters. It’s successors, Jak 2 & Jak 3, were adventure-shooter games with grim worlds and gritty characters. They’re very different in terms of tone, theme, and gameplay. They’re different to the point of being almost if not completely different games. If that’s the case, then can we really say that Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy had sequels? I don’t think so.
Jak II and Jak III are just too different from their predecessor to be called sequels. Their only relationship to the first game, really, is through the core cast of characters. The Precursor Legacy was bright, colorful, and varied in terms of its world and color palette. Its successors though? They’re dark, toned-down, and mostly homogeneous when it comes too to the world we’re given to play in. The tone of the original game is excitement, fun, and wonder. The tones of the latter games are of desperation, corruption, and grit. Jak himself transforms from an upbeat silent protagonist to a rage-filled monster with a lot to say. The differences are staggering, and we’re not even talking about gameplay yet.
The difference in gameplay between these games is stark.The Precursor Legacy was all about exploration, platforming, and light puzzle-solving. It was about exploring what felt like a vast world and uncovering its secrets. The game had you run, jump, and bump your way through each of its levels, and it very much favored movement and traversal over combat. It’s successors are quite the opposite. In Jak 2 and Jak 3, combat is the near-singular focus. With a few exceptions, the world is built around combat. Instead of platforming your way through the game, you’re shooting through it. Enemies are your number one impediment to progress, and the games even task you with launching attacks or defending a point against waves of enemies on multiple occasions. All the games do contain many of the same elements, but the priorities have been dramatically flipped.
With all these differences, can the later games truly be called sequels? Maybe. If one looks at the shifted priorities and completely redesigned gameplay as improvements in and of themselves, then yes. If one finds that there are too many differences to really tell one way or another, then I would say that the answer is “no.”
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is kind of unique in this way. It’s a game that launched a very popular and successful series, and yet it can be seen as having the least to do with that series than any other entry. It’s a game that’s had many sequels, and yet it’s also a game that doesn’t have any sequels in a sense. It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose, and mine is that the later games, despite being quite good, are just too different to be considered true sequels.
Do you consider Jak 2 and Jak3 to be proper sequels? Which Jak & Daxter game do you think is the best?