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Developer:
Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 14, 2003

by Sam Gove




In the sequel to the popular platformer, Jak and Daxter, Naughty Dog has decided to take the series in an entirely new direction. Jak II still features much of the same action-adventuring of the original, but Jak now has special powers and even wields guns!


When we last saw Jak, he and his sidekick, Daxter, had defeated the evil Gol and Maia. Afterwards, the group found a large Precuror Rift Gate, and have now even constructed their own version of it back at Samos's hut. When Keira and Samos have finished the construction of their Rift Gate, they open it, accidentally sending our heroes into the future. Immediately after Jak and Daxter arrive in this new time, Jak is captured, but Daxter runs off, vowing to save Jak.


It has been two years since Jak has last seen his friend Daxter, and has since gone under many experiments with Dark Eco by the Baron Praxis. While these experiments would kill a normal person, Jak has somehow been very resistant to the affects. However, the Dark Eco in Jak's body has caused a transformation inside him, which we will get into later. After witnessing Jak endure some of the torturing by Praxis, Daxter finally arrives to save his pal from his capturers. Soon after, the two escape the Baron's fortress and head out into the world of Haven City.


The streets of Haven City are filled with a mix of civilians and the Baron's Krimson Guard. While the KG won't normally bother you, they will if you happen to attack one of them or go a little too far with beating on a civilian, which really means you can't attack them twice. Located all over Haven City are also civilians and KG using their own vehicles. There are different types of vehicles, some of which can sustain more damage, some that are faster and some, like the KG vehicles, that can attack. As you run around Haven City, Jak can jump aboard one of the passing by vehicles and snatch it from the driver. While the KG won't have any problem with taking them from a civilian, they will become a little upset if you take one of the KGs. Chances are, instead of actually traveling the streets on foot, players will use the vehicles, because not only are they located all over, but going far distances on foot will take a long, long time.


Like the original Jak game, in order to progress in Jak II you must finish different missions that are handed out by a few different characters. These missions vary from using vehicles to transport people or items and going around on foot to destroy certain objects, collect objects in different locations, and defeating certain mini-games. For the most part, players will be running back and forth between different locations and doing these missions the entire game. While traveling back and forth between locations can become a little bit tedious, players will normally have an option of choosing which mission they would like to do. There are some missions that won't be available until previous ones are finished first, but unless you happen to have bad luck in choosing which mission to perform, there will normally be at least two missions available.


Of course, with all of these vehicles there has to be some racing in Jak II, right? Right. In several missions Jak and Daxter will have to race against other computer players in some of those same vehicles located in the city. Considering I suck at racing games, I had a bit of difficulty with these missions. In fact, I despised them, but I think that is just because I am so awful at racing games. However, the controls do seem very difficult to master and even the slightest turn could throw your vehicle off course into the wall.


One thing that was a little annoying about the original Jak game was that players couldn't take on the role of Daxter. In Jak II, however, there are certain times when Daxter is playable. While these are very rare, there are a couple of times when you will play as Daxter. Most of Daxter's missions involve him finishing some obstacle that Jak is too large to do.


As far as combat goes, Jak still bares all of those same attacks that were available in the original Jak and Daxter game, but with a few improvements. Instead of the mere punching attacks, Jak can now wield four different guns, adding a whole lot more fun to the combat in the game. All four guns have their own different advantages in certain situations, and will more than likely be used a lot by players.


Like I said earlier, the experiments conducted on Jak have caused some unnatural affects. In fact, during key points of the story Jak will change into what is known as Dark Jak. Dark Jak is not only more powerful and faster then the normal Jak, but he also is physically much different. When in this form, Jak's skin and hair is changed to white, his eyes a dark black, and there are large claws on his fingertips. In the beginning of the game, players can not transform into Dark Jak at will, but as time goes by the option will be available. Well, that is if you have enough Dark Eco, which can normally be obtained by defeating enemies or in boxes located all over. Honestly, I don't really remember using Dark Jak very often because, with the addition of guns and the fact that Jak still has all of his normal attacks, there really wasn't too much of a need for it.


If players are looking for a great platformer, then look no further, because Jak II will deliver. While there have been many new additions such as guns, Jak II still features much of the same platforming that fans loved in the original game. In fact, the game is probably around 80%+ based on going around and doing platforming. So if that's why you loved the original, you won't be disappointed.


While the original Jak was rated E for everyone, and was actually quite simple, Jak II is far more difficult and features a T rating instead. In Jak II, the language is much fowler, and has quite a bit of sexual innuendo involved. The game is also multiple times more difficult then the original. While it isn't so difficult that it is near impossible, it will still more than likely take several times for players to accomplish certain missions.


Graphically, Jak II looks absolutely great. Not only are the environments large and detailed, but the characters look great as well. The looks of both Jak and Daxter have definitely improved since their younger days, and the small videos shown when the duo receive a mission look great as well. The music and voice acting in Jak II are also done very well, and they bring back many of the same actors from the original, except for Kiera and, well, I guess, Jak. In the sequel, Jak actually has a voice! Yeah, that's right, Jak speaks in this game. And well, I thought the voice fit the character pretty well.


Located all over the game are areas where you can find Precurssor orbs. These orbs are collected and can be used to unlock certain secrets in the game, such as unlimited Dark Eco, unlimited ammo, unlimited health, a scene selector, and much more. If you collect enough, then you can unlock something known as hero mode. Hero mode is the exact same game, but the enemies are a little stronger and some of the game might be a little more difficult. This hero mode leads to some replay value, but in order to unlock it you are going to need a whole lot of Precurssor orbs, so by the time you get them, you might be a little burnt out on Jak II.


While some players might not like the drastic change from the original Jak and Daxter, I found it to be very fun and absolutely loved it. There really aren't any big flaws in the game, except for some of the difficulty with missions. If you were a fan of the original game, or of either the Ratchet and Clank series or Sly Cooper, I would highly recommend playing Jak II. You won't be disappointed.


Final Grade: 91%




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