Jak II Review
By Gary Kearney
Jak II is the follow up to the pretty successful PS2 game Jak and Daxter from a couple of years or so ago. The game was developed by Naughty Dog who gave us gamers the hugely entertaining Crash Bandicoot series. While certainly a sequel in name, this follow-up has a much darker tone and more challenging game play than its predecessor. Is the end result a game as enjoyable as the original? Letís find outÖ
Very early on you can tell that Jak II is a more mature gaming experience than the first. To me the first was along the line of a happy Nintendo-ish type of title. Now to be sure it did provide for a nice game, but due to the storyline of the new game the overall style had to be changed. I guess once youíve been tortured for a couple of years you tend to lose some of the happy-go-lucky attitude. So gone are the colorful sunshiny levels of the first game and replaced with a much darker look and feel. Itís not quite Goth, but in comparison to the first itís not far from it. Gratefully, the game does not take itself too seriously and is even able to make fun of not just itself but video games in general.
|I'm out of here!|
Jak II starts pretty much where the original ended but quickly takes our hero and his pal Daxter and flings them into the future. Unfortunately for Jak the future is not a happy place and he is taken prisoner by a bad man named Baron Praxis, ruler of Haven City. The next two years are not good to Jak as the Baron runs experiments on him involving dark Eco. The Baron is frustrated with the results and decides to kill Jak but luckily for Jak, and us, Daxter has been spending the last two years trying to free Jak and does so right before Jak is waxed. During the escape we notice that all is not normal with Jak as he turns into a kind of Hulk-like monster resulting from the Baronís experiments. He cannot yet control this power but itís obvious that once, and if, he can Jak will be one powerful pointy-eared dude. But all that is on Jakís mind after the escape is revenge against the Baron, and really who could blame him? It should be noted that apparently one side effect of the Baronís experimenting on Jak was that it enabled Jak to talk something he was unable to do before. This helps tremendously in moving the story along and as far as platformers go the story here is very interesting. Besides, itís kind of nice to hear Jak being generally tick off at the world and ready to rumble at the drop of a hat. Typical teenagerÖ
Naturally Daxter is still talking up a storm. Daxter is a love him or hate him type of character. I love him, especially this time around. Sure heís a smart-ass. Yea, he gets a little drunk and starts hitting on innocent females while doing a little too much admiring of their form. Yet, in his own grade school-level humor way he is funny and steals just about every cut scene. I figure any video game character that can actually get me to crack a smile is good, but Daxter was able to get a few real laughs from me and that is rare and very refreshing. Yet despite any bad taste Daxter or embarrassing moments Daxter puts Jak through, you also know that he is immensely loyal to his friend.
At its heart Jak II is a platformer but it does add a few new elements to the typical formula. One of the first things you will notice is that the game takes place in a giant city that has a personality all of its own. The city is huge and you are constantly traveling across it to reach different areas for different missions. Nice thing is that you donít have to walk to all of these places because Jak is not above jacking a vehicle to get around in and there are several different types of vehicles to choose from, all of which are of the flying car type. The city is very alive with lots of people roaming around, traffic all over the place, and guards on the lookout for you. The use of the city as the main hub for the game is interesting. At times the city is a little too big as it can take several minutes to go from point A to point B. While there are lots of people cruising around they really donít have any affect on the game. Sure if you happen to run over a guard or two there will be alarms all over the place and a swarm of new guards hunting you down, but mostly the city is just a really neat place to look. There are certain missions where you must race through the city in a certain time, but anything that actually involves being in the city in fairly rare.