Jak and Daxter II


Review by Ricardo Almaraz

Sony/Naughty Dog


Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

Unfortunately, I never managed to play the original Jak and Daxter. I played a demo of it that came with one of the OMP issues, but that was as far as I got to playing the full build of it. For one, Jak and Daxter didn’t look all that appealing, and at the time the hype for Super Mario Sunshine was pushing everything else out. Of course, due to Jak and Daxter’s popularity, Naughty Dog began working on a sequel, and it eventually turned into what stores have on their shelves now - a more mature, Jak II.


Jak II starts out 2 years in the future, where Jak has been experimented on in the city called New Haven by Baron Praxis, and now he’s escaped, and wants revenge on Praxis. The story unfolds through cinematic cut-scenes, and it goes much deeper than what this text reveals (or what I’m going to tell you). For a platformer story, it’s unusually deep. Some people consider it a bad thing, others think it’s cool.


Control is everything in a platformer. If the controls suck, no matter what kind of things the game has, playing it will be hell. To get the bad out of the way first, Jak II‘s controls can be a little shaky at times, and turning and button timing could be worked on a little bit. Super Mario Sunshine‘s controls were very smooth, but Jak II is kind of clunky at times. The game opens up in the form of missions you get from different people, and does this all the way through to the end of the game. I don’t really think that the mission stuff works very well in a platform, and should stay in Vice City.

All of the face button but Triangle gets lots of action throughout the game, and so aside from R-1, they’ll get used the most. Jak has two different types of physical attacks, which will probably take back seat to the four weapons you eventually get to acquire. The first weapon is a short range “radial” blast that doesn’t do much damage, but is good to clearing out groups of enemies to give you some breathing room because lets face it, the controls in Jak II aren’t exactly the most sensitive that they could be. The second weapon is a little bit more advanced with a laser scope for easier targeting, and a much, MUCH faster firing rate. The third gun is called the Vulcan gun, and is basically the same as the second gun, only it’s a little bit stronger. The last weapon is called the peacemaker, and is fired by charging up every shot. Thank God it’s found late in the game, because it’s basically useless. The second gun is the most versatile and even weapon, and so I used it the most.

Until you get the first weapon, you’ll probably be using a lot of Jak’s “signature” moves. That’ll most likely change once the weapons are acquired, because they’re just so much more fun to use. Lets see here, mature Jak, gun, massive damage - lets do the math her e. Four weapons is plenty sufficient enough for Jak II. Any more, and it’d turn into a single man “Brute Force” of the Playstation 2. Aside from the four weapons, Jak has another weapon, and ultimate weapon, his own weapon - he IS the weapon. After being experimented on those 2 years with the mysterious dark eco energy source, Jak has a transformation kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called Dark Jak that is faster, stronger, and even more pis*ed off than regular Jak. Dark Jak learns some moves that are pretty cool to see, and do some devastating damage. I used Dark Jak a lot, but his attacks didn’t last too long, and so the only time any of his attacks ever got used were when he was surrounded by a bunch of enemies.

Jak II isn’t easy as far as platformers go. Some platformers are a challenge to get through, but not really so hard that it might push you to being ultra frustrated. Jak II’s not really THAT bad if you actually use the different attacks you have at your disposal, but even then, even regular enemies can give you trouble, especially when they come in groups.

While the big lush environment served as the hub in the first game, the wasteland Haven City serves as the hub in Jak II, and gets so much bigger as the game goes on. At first I thought that this was going to be a small little city and that I was going to be entering another city. I was amazed at how big the city is, and with such great draw distance, it gives you the feeling that you’re being swallowed by the game. There are different types of hover vehicles that you can hijack and drive around the city in, ala Grand Theft Auto, though controlling the damn things is like trying to take sharp turns going 75mph on ice. It sucks.


The PS2’s age is starting to show, as some of its final last breaths are being released within the next year (Gran Turismo 4, Final Fantasy X-2). Naughty Dog paid no attention to this factor though, and was able to pull some more juice from the PS2 for darker and more mature Jak II. The first thing I took notice about Jak II is that it is considerably darker than the first game was (never played the first game, but I’ve seen a bunch of bits and parts while watching friends), and just “seems” more mature because of the darker graphics. The draw distance in the city is remarkable, with everything having more detail than they probably should have had. The characters have life like movements, and the best of all, the frame rate stays constant throughout the entire game. The numerous cut-scenes consists of a blend of different genres, and keeps your attention as the story unravels.


The music was a bit disappointing, as most of your time is spent roaming New Haven, and no matter what you’re doing, the music is the same, just with a different tempo. The voice-overs on the other hand, are a different story. The voices sound like they were taken right out of a cartoon, and Daxter is back with his smart ass comments once again. The biggest surprise, Jak actually talks in this one, yay!


Jak II is a definite platformer to check out if you’ve got a PS2, and might only be challenged by Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, which is shaping up wonderfully. The graphics are crisp, clear, and dark, the voice acting is superb, and the gameplay, despite different control issues, is very fun. Unless you’re a big fan of platformers, it’d probably be a better idea to just rent Jak II from the video store, because it’s not really one that will please non-platform fans.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:50 PM