Jak 3 Review

PlayStation 2

November 27, 2004 by

Jak 3 Image

It has become a rare occasion when gamers have been treated to a platformer that has done it right. With an abundance of poorly developed platformers hitting our shelves every year, gamers have become sick of playing run-of-the-mill titles that attempt to make money by regurgitating ideas that have been used numerous times before. With developer Naughty Dogs unique ideas, the latest title in the popular series of games, featuring the famous Jak and his humorous friend Daxter, will have players enjoying the new, refreshing and innovative gameplay that provides more than simply jumping from one ledge to another. Jack 3 really is how platformers should be.

Jak 3 begins where Jack 2 left off. After people begin blaming Jack for the attack on the Haven City, the Grand Council decide to dump Jak and Daxter in the middle of a barren desert after being accused of heinous acts and crimes against the people of Haven City. After wandering through the desert without water, you are saved by a powerful warrior known as Damas, a controller of a large walled city in which you are taken to. In return for being saved, you are forced to complete missions set by Damas and other powerful warriors that are located throughout the city, however you soon embark on your own quest.

Unlike Jak 2, which limited the missions to within the walls of Haven City, a large majority of the missions occur outside of both cities in the harsh desert. The location of each mission is displayed with icons on a map, making it easy to locate each new mission. These missions usually resolve around retrieving items or abilities in order to save the world from an imminent, extraterrestrial danger that is threatening the existence of all that lives. There are, however, a number of missions that require Jak to utilise a range of vehicles, such as racing through checkpoints within a certain period of time or controlling a spider-like robot to defend the city from attack. Both on-foot and vehicle-orientated missions have been presented perfectly, always remaining interesting and rarely becoming frustrating.

Since the majority of the missions are located in the wide, open desert to complete missions, Jak has access to a variety of land vehicles to use both during and in-between missions. These vehicles are gradually unlocked as you progress through the game, with each offering a different ability to another. In one vehicle, for example, has the ability to jump high into the air, clearing tall obstacles or jumping over large gaps. Whilst travelling throughout the desert, bandits appear often in other vehicles, making the large area to travel interesting. Whilst in Haven City, Jak also has the ability to take control of a range of different flying vehicles. As well as the range of drivable vehicles on offer, the hover board makes a return, offering a faster travelling option than on-foot.

Although Jak 3 is considered to be a platforming title, you will find that you spend more time in action sequences, such as shooting enemies or driving vehicles, rather than spending the majority of the time performing the usual platform tasks. However, when platforming is involved, it generally works flawlessly, providing cunning and creative challenges. To top this off, Jak controls easily, making jumping and moving around a simple task.

Jak still maintains the same hand-to-hand combat moves as he used in Jak 2. Jak can still punch and spin, as well as stomping the ground. The layouts of the weapons are also essentially the same, however Jak now obtains the ability to upgrade his weapons according, thus offering a new range of powerful and innovative weapons. In one example, you are able to transform the heavy-duty gattling gun that rapidly shoots bullets into a powerful electricity-based weapon that shoots out deadly bolts of electricity. These additional add-ons create numerous numbers of ways to handle a range of conditions as you progress through the game.

As well as the ability to perform hand-to-hand combat and use a variety of weapons, Jak also has the ability to transform into the dark eco version of himself. This gives Jak more powerful moves and abilities than what he is able to perform in his normal state, offering a second layer of fighting options. This version of yourself is further advanced after you are rewarded a lighter version of yourself, giving you further abilities to become weightless or regenerate your health later on during the game.

Since each level is large and lengthy, developer Naughty Dog has included more checkpoints throughout the levels when compared to the previous titles. This helps to prevent frustration for the gamer - if you die whilst attempting to jump to a ledge or whilst battling enemies, you arent thrown back to the beginning of the level, instead, youre a placed just prior to where you died, depending on the location of the last checkpoint. Although this lessens the overall difficulty of the game, most gamers will be pleased to find this new addition.

Collecting precursor orbs or completing certain tasks allows you to unlock a range of cheats, which range from developer commentaries through to new upgrades for your weapons.

One of the greatest features about Jak 3 is that there are no loading screens. Although these are sometimes hidden with a slow opening door or an elevator, these are only evident occasionally through the game, meaning more time is spent playing rather than waiting for lengthy loading screens to finish.

Unfortunately, Jak 3 is simply not long enough. Although the storyline lasts for around 10 hours for the first time through, the game simply flies past too fast. Boss battles are generally difficult and require multiple attempts to beat them, adding some extra life and something that isnt evident in many of todays platfomers. Whilst Jak 3 lasts, though, is an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Jak 3 is an incredibly detailed, vibrant and visually impressive title that pushes the Playstation 2 hardware to its limits. Each character has been uniquely designed, offering highly detailed facial features and clothing. During cutscenes, the characters facial features are truly impressive: full of emotion and reacting almost lifelike. The environment textures are outstanding, boasting amazing crisp and clear objects. Add to this the humorous Daxter and the cutscenes are the best seen in a platforming title yet. Your surroundings, which dramatically vary with each location throughout the game, such as the dry and baron desert through to the destruction, war-filled Haven City. Overall, the graphics in Jak 3 are excellent, a commendable feat that is very impressive.

The voice acting, in particular Jak and Daxter themselves, is of high quality. Both in-game and during the cutscenes, the characters in Jak 3 provide an interesting and humorous presentation that will have laughing out loud at some points. Daxter presents a humorous and sarcastic view on almost everything throughout the game, a feature that the series is famous for.

The sound effects, although mostly re-used from Jak 2, sound great and fit in perfectly with the whole feel of the game. The music, although nothing revolutionary, also blends into the feel of Jak 3.

Jak 3 is a solid, enjoyable platform that provides a compelling, yet humours storyline to create one of the best platformers to be released for some time. Offering a range of different weapons, vehicles abilities, Jak 3 proves to be more than your average platforming title. Fans of the previous games will find a lot of love in the latest, and possibly final game of the series. If you are a fan of the platforming genre, you owe it to yourself to experience a fine title.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.