At the beginning of the year, Naughty Dog, creators of Crash Bandicoot, The Uncharted Series and The Jak and Daxter Series revealed that before they were in the business of making next year’s “The Last of Us”, they were seriously planning a new Jak and Daxter. Having been waiting for a current generation Jak 4 for longer than I’ve been waiting for a Half Life 2 Episode 3 (or Half Life 3 as it better be called now), the news that there might just possibly be a new game got me very, VERY excited. Like Christmas morning when I was 14 (subsequently, the year I got Jak 3 for Christmas).
The child in me died when I realised that we will probably never see this game anytime soon (if even at all), and worse than that, the reasons for this were unbelievably stupid, and arguably what’s wrong with modern gaming, modern films, and pretty much modern everything.
Naughty Dog revealed that they were essentially planning on rebooting the series (what is it with reboots these days?) and though they really tried (apparently) to make it work, they felt like the game they were making wasn’t really a Jak game, and in trying to update the characters for a modern audience (I guess) they felt like the characters they were recreating weren’t really the Jak and Daxter we all fell in love with… These are all fair and valid reasons, but to me they feel like step ones- however to Naughty Dog, this, for some reason beyond me, meant surrender.
Did Naughty Dog not consider that the reason rebooting these beloved characters felt wrong to them and just wasn’t working was because these characters didn’t need rebooting, and no one was asking for a cooler, darker, more gritty updated version of Jak. What was wrong with the campy, cartoony Jak we all know and love? Ratchet and Clank came back for this generation of consoles, and they felt like exactly the same game we all remember for the Playstation 2- just with updated graphics. This is all I’m asking for: a Jak 4, but with updated graphics.
Why does the world think we need to reboot everything… but most of all, why do these reboots almost always go down the dark route? Next year we are getting a rebooted, “darker” Lara Croft, a rebooted, “darker” Devil May Cry and a rebooted, darker film version of “Superman”. I think there are two main reasons for this.
Number one, people these days are scared of anything even resembling camp (which, let’s face it, Jak and Daxter kind of was), but sometimes, can’t camp be good? I’m as big a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman films as the next guy, but if I’m being completely honest, I think I prefer Tim Burton’s campy Batman Returns to any of Nolan’s Batman films (though I still like The Dark Knight VERY MUCH). Call me crazy… but the reason Nolan’s films weren’t quite as amazing as they could have been was because he was slightly too afraid to embrace the camp side of Batman. I’m not saying he should have gone all Schumacher (in fact I think “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin” should be wiped off the face of the earth)- but his Batman films were a little too humourless, and a little overdramatic for my taste (I still really like them though) and ultimately “The Avengers”- the more chilled out, more camp, more colourful and fun superhero film this year just beat out Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” as the best film of the year (my opinion).
The second reason “people these days” (I sound like an old man) like to create darker reboots is because people want to attract a more adult, “cooler” audience of people who mostly play FPS (and have lots and lots of money to buy games with). Maybe Naughty Dog thought the people who played Jak and Daxter ten years ago would be all grown up now, and wouldn’t want to play a game targeted at a younger audience. WRONG!!! … Well, I am grown up now (officially), but I still want to play that game, and so do the many thousands of adults who brought the Jak and Daxter Original Trilogy HD collection for the PS3 this year.
In fact, aren’t we, the adults who were once children who loved the Jak and Daxter Trilogy, and the many platform games we played as children, exactly the audience who would love to see another campy, colourful, cartoony Jak game, if only to relive our childhood memories of playing that game for 6 hours straight with our eyes glued (burning away to a crisp) at the TV screens while we were supposed to be doing our homework???
Is it just me, or does it appear like all the platform games that used to overpopulate our consoles are rapidly disappearing? (I’d also love to see another Crash Bandicoot by the way). It feels like all the games aimed at children (mostly Wii, Kinect and Move games) are basically aimed at preschool kids, with very few platform games targeted to all audiences- children, teens and adults alike. Just like the middle class seems to be slowly disappearing from today’s world, so it seems is the “middle class” of platform games.
Don’t get me wrong… I think “The Last of Us” (the game that ultimately is the reason there is no Jak 4) looks kind of good, potentially amazing even… but, running the risk of sounding controversial… haven’t we seen this idea, like, I don’t know, a million times before.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic American city (yawn) where the city has been overrun by plant life… isn’t this kind of exactly like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (one of the last good platform games), Fallout 3… or, every other supposedly original sci-fi story out there. Do we really need any more post-apocalyptic science fiction stories? And also, I don’t know how many of you have seen the pilot for the new J.J Abrams show “Revolution”- but don’t these two things have basically the exact same look and setting. (Plus, “Revolution” kind of sucked).
Still, it’s difficult to criticize the Last of Us too much (although, doesn’t the main female character look exactly like Ellen Page but isn’t- which is really weird considering she is actually the lead in another game expected next year, “Beyond: Two Souls”). The Last of Us will undoubtedly be one of the best games of next year (it’s made by the same guys, and already looks a little like Uncharted 4- how can it not be good?), but it certainly isn’t the most original game of next year.
I mean, how many of you think the Last of Us is the most exciting game release of next year??? I bet not that many- Watchdogs looks much more original for example. And how many of you out there would have been giddy at the idea of arguably the best platforming game series ever made coming back for one more trilogy. I bet A LOT.
All I can say is I hope Naughty Dog seriously reconsiders creating a Jak 4, and that when they do it resembles the games we all fell in love with a decade ago, and not Emo Jak with a few scars on his face. Jak 2 and 3 were dark enough, thank you very much.
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