Jak II


posted 10/30/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Theorists often discuss how we spend our whole lives preparing for that one life changing instant. It’s often said that we don’t spend copious amounts of time dwelling or thinking about such an occasion, just that we spend a lifetime waiting for it to happen so that we’re prepared for it when it arises. There are games that you’ve waited your whole life to play, Jak II is one of them. From the day I picked up a controller I had often wondered what a near-perfect video game would play like and now I know. Jak II isn’t just one of the best games to come out this year, it’s one of the best video games ever made.

We all change as we grow and develop. Some of us were perfect angels in our youth only to turn into hellacious devils in our teenage years. Whether or not that was the case in your life one thing’s for sure, times change as do their trends. This is also the case when it comes to the video gaming industry. In recent years we’ve transcended from the kiddie-tastic confines of Mario and into the evil clutches of Grand Theft Auto. It should come as no surprise then that the company that used to be the very personification of kiddie-ness, Naughty Dog, has matured and grown into a full-grown adult machine.

Dammit Daxter! Did you cut the cheese again?

Jak has taken a decidedly large turn for the worst. When you begin he starts out as the shy and doe-eyed buck that we knew in the last game, but about 10 minutes in he gets captured and tortured by Baron Praxis. After which he becomes a hatred-filled revenge monger. Of course being tortured and beaten for the better part of two years tends to do that to a guy. Daxter eventually breaks Jak free from his bindings and from that point on Jak begins his quest to dole out some revenge to his tormentor.

I hate to make the comparison but Jak II shows plenty of similarities to the Grand Theft Auto style of gaming in that it’s a 3rd person mission-based game that transpires across a gigantic cityscape. When you’re not engaging in missions you’re free to roam around the city and wreak havoc. Initially one could get the impression that the free-roam mode is just a half-assed attempt to capitalize upon the success of GTA but it’s really much more than that. As you progress you’ll notice distinct regions of the city that add new depth and layers to the entire game. There’s the slums, the rich district and even an entire district that’s built entirely on water. Some of the design isn’t as appealing or attractive as what you would expect to see from GTA, but it’s only because of the time frame. Instead of looking like something that you’d see when you travel down to South Beach it’s sort of something that you’d expect to see in the future or in Ratchet & Clank. Best of all you can wreak havoc upon civilians and the Krimzon Guards, the game’s main foes, as you run amok and steal vehicles.

Jak’s got all of his original moves but he’s learned a few things along the way. For starters there’s a rage mode where the dark eco consumes him. After being effected by enough dark eco you can trigger an alternate mode where Jak can tear up anything and everything that comes across his path. He also has four guns at his disposal, all of which allow you to unleash varying degrees of hell upon your enemies. The duo also has a hoverboard that can be utilized at all times to help them transverse tough terrains. It serves as a fun diversion for folks who want a little Tony Hawk with their platformer but it also has practical uses such as the ability to skim across liquid surfaces.
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