Jak II
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9  |  Jak II Review (PS2)
larsoncc , 10/21/2003 11:01:41 AM

Jak IIJak II is the perfect sequel to one of the PlayStation 2's perfect games.  Rather than rehash a formula, it brings together everything that was successful about the last game, and expands that with concepts from Grand Theft Auto, Ratchet and Clank, and even a few fighting games.

But is it fun? 


The beginning of Jak II presents you with a pretty powerful indication that this game is going to be very unlike the Jak and Daxter of old.  Jak's first words (ever) are "I'm going to KILL Baron Praxis!"

Powerful words for a once G rated character, and a powerful new beginning to the series.  Upon escaping from the prison that you've been locked away in for 2 years, you discover a world that is very different from the one that you left.  There are guards everywhere, and you need to watch your back.  

You are a criminal, and you're about to become a thief.  Remember when I said that there were elements of Grand Theft Auto in this game?  Welcome to the Jak II transportation system, which is largely made up of stealing hovercrafts.  And you'll need a hovercraft, too - this game's city is far too big to be walking around for days on end.

Cruising in the CityOne of the flaws in the new Jak II is the control scheme for the hovercrafts.  The hovercraft controls are a bit heavy - when controlling a ship, you don't really feel that there's any way that you can avoid a collision.  It's a big complaint, and the primary reason that I won't give Jak II a perfect score.  

That aside, there are new play mechanics that are very, very well executed.  Guns are new - and give the game more depth than you'd think.  Your introductory weapon sucks in ways which will astound you.  But that's a given.  The weapon gets better, fast (through attachments), and you start to learn more complicated moves - using your weapon becomes a part of a "combo string" that you can use to take out ever increasing numbers of bad guys.   The effect of this is that Jak now has at least twice the moves, attacks, and strategy than in the last game.  They took the play of Ratchet and Clank, co-oped it, and upped the ante.  Clearly, Jak II does weapons better than previous platformers. 

The main city is not where your action takes place, thank goodness.  Most of the game is driven by a mission structure that is very similar to the game's predecessor, Jak and Daxter.  The basic platform elements in the "main" levels really come back to you if you're used to the old game, and if you've never played, they are easy and fun to pick up.  These levels feel pretty linear - which is a good thing.  You're never confused about where to go.  

Even though most of the game takes place outside of the city, there are a few racing levels inside city limits.  These levels are unlike the racing levels of the previous game - there is increased risk with the security patrols, and there are opportunities for short-cuts.  The shortcuts are a natural extension of the new city-scape.  However, they simply wouldn't have been possible in the previous game - racing sections were presented as little more than caves or tubes that you had to navigate through with jumps or key item acquisitions.  Jak II feels much more like a race against something, not towards something.

It's difficult for me to put into words how much I like this game - it's simply fantastic.  It's has an appeal to my wife, too - a gap that is bridged by only a few games.  When I'm able to wrestle the controller from her iron-like grasp, it's gaming bliss.  Jak II.  It's nearly perfect, and it's certainly worth your money. I give Jak II a 9/10. 

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