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 didnt 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
Daxters 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 hes 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 Im going to tell you). For a platformer story, its
unusually deep. Some people consider it a bad thing, others think its 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 IIs
controls can be a little shaky at times, and turning and button timing could be worked on
a little bit. Super Mario Sunshines 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 dont 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, theyll 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 doesnt 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 arent 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 its a little bit stronger. The
last weapon is called the peacemaker, and is fired by charging up every shot. Thank God
its found late in the game, because its 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, youll probably be using a
lot of Jaks signature moves. Thatll most likely change once the
weapons are acquired, because theyre 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 itd 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
didnt 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 isnt 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 IIs 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 youre 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 PS2s 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 Ive 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 youre 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 youve 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 youre a big fan of
platformers, itd probably be a better idea to just rent Jak II from the video
store, because its not really one that will please non-platform fans.