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Developer:
Naughty Dog Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Ent.
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 18, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




When I first heard that a fourth installment in the Jak and Daxter series was to be released, I was excited. After all, being a hardcore fan of the trilogy, I couldn't wait to see what was in store next for the duo. However, when I learned that Jak X was going to be a racing game, I was a little disappointed. While I've never been a fan of racing games, I figured I should still give the game a try. Honestly, I sure am glad I did.


The story in Jak X takes place when Jak and his friends are requested to attend the reading of Krew's will. Veterans of the Jak series will remember Krew as the fatty who floated around Jak II. One of the attendants at the reading is none other than Krew's daughter, Rayn. Before the reading, Rayn asks for a toast to her father. Although reluctant, Jak drinks his glass only after he witnesses Rayn finish hers off. It is not until a little later that a holographic image of Krew informs everyone, including his own daughter that they had drank a slow-acting poison, and the only way to get the antidote is to win the Kras City Grand Championship race.


For the most part, the missions in Jak X involve racing against other players, trying to make it to the finish line before the other racers. While this might sound simple, at times it can be quite difficult. Not only are there several obstacles on the courses, including sharp turns, areas where you can fall off the track and crash, giant snowballs, and some non-racing vehicles passing through areas of the course. Luckily, during the normal racing missions characters have unlimited lives, because it would be nearly impossible to finish a mission with only a couple of lives.


Also, located all over the course are four different forms of eco, including: green eco, which represents the health of your vehicle; blue eco, which boosts the speed of your vehicle; yellow eco, which represents your vehicle's attack weapons; and red eco, which are used as a source of defense. Each of these four forms of eco are essential in order to be victorious in missions.


Other than the basic racing against other players, the story mode in Jak X features seven other types of racing missions. For example, one of these missions is called a death race. Death races involve driving around the track and using your weaponry to destroy as many drone vehicles as possible in a certain amount of time. One other mission is called rush hour. In the rush hour missions, it is your objective to smash as many incoming blue and green vehicles as possible. However, these missions also feature red vehicles, which not only damage you but take away some of your time.


During the adventure mode (story mode), after each race is completed, depending on how you performed throughout the race, players will receive a certain amount of precursor orbs. These orbs are basically used as your source of income in Jak X. Precursor orbs can be used for things such as upgrading your vehicle's armor, speed and other attributes. Players can also purchase extra vehicles, different characters,and many other extras.


Aside from the adventure mode, Jak X also features what is known as exhibition play. Exhibition mode allows gamers to race head to head in several of the game's different courses. Exhibition mode can be played alongside one of your friends, or even online with several other players. Yes, thatís right, Jak X features online playability. While unlocked characters arenít available for play in the adventure mode, players will be able to race with them in the exhibition mode. There are several characters that will be unlocked by playing through the story mode and some that are found in other ways.


Veterans of the Jak series will be happy to know that several of the characters in earlier Jak games will make appearances and many of them will race against you during the story mode. For example, during many races you will go against Ashelin, Torn, Sig and Kleiver, while others, including Pecker and Samos, are shown throughout the game.


As stated earlier, Jak X features several different unlockable characters that can be used throughout the exhibition mode. While some characters are unlocked by accomplishing certain things during the game, some others are unlocked by merely having a save file from a certain game. For example, if a save file from one of the first three games is present, that game's version of Jak is unlocked as a playable character during exhibition play. If a save file is present from all three of the games, all three versions of Jak will become unlocked. It is also possible with a save file from both the upcoming Daxter PSP game and Ratchet Deadlocked, that certain objects such as Ratchet and other unlockables become available. Thatís right, the matchup everyone has been craving to see is now available, Ratchet vs. Jak.


If you have played any of the previous three games in the Jak series, you know that the graphics have always been a strong point in the series. Well, Jak X is no different. The cut scenes still look very impressive, while the courses are very detailed and look great.


As far as sound goes, the voice-acting in Jak X is top notch, and features most of the same voice actors from previous Jak games. The soundtrack is also done very well and features several different tunes done by Billy Howerdel (A Perfect Circle) and many other musicians.


While the combat has changed from its predecessors, Jak X still features many of the same things that made the Jak games such a fun and entertaining series. With the ability to unlock characters such as Ratchet, and the option of online play, Jak X is another chapter that fans of the series will absolutely adore.


Final Grade: 82%




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