Jak X Combat Racing Review

PlayStation 2

December 5, 2005 by

Jak X Combat Racing Image

With an action/platformer series experiencing as great of a success as the Jak and Daxter series, it is only fitting that the franchise is adapted into a racer. After all, Mario and pals have made the successful adaptation countless times now, as has Crash Bandicoot. Developer Naughty Dog has seen the opportunity to pit their now-famous characters behind the cockpit of crazy and imaginative vehicles and has successfully created a game that captures the charm and uniqueness that the three previous games in the franchise have offered. Surprisingly, the move from the action/platformer scene through to the fast-paced racing one has been quite a success, offering an enjoyable and frantic title that offers considerably more storyline depth than what other games in the same genre have offered in the past.

Jak X: Combat Racing offers a surprisingly deep storyline that is presented in a classic humorous fashion that has been evident throughout the past titles in the series. The inclusion of past characters that make guest appearances as you proceed through the game is a nice little addition, offering fans of the series a short trip down memory lane and further tying the game into the Jak and Daxter universe. The storyline is surprisingly deep for a racing game, offering regular cutscenes that explain the progress of the game and the various happenings surrounding the competition. But the reason why Jak, Daxter and countless of his friends and foes are involved in the brutal racing sport is possibly the most interesting aspect of the game. Jak and Daxter travel to Kras City to hear the reading of Krews will. During the reading of the will, Krews daughter pours the assembled people a drink of a specially brewed wine. After everyone has consumed the drink, Krews holographic self informs them that the drink has been spiked with a slow-acting poison that would eventually kill them. In order to save themselves, they would need to participate in the famous local racing championship and win, which would fulfill Krews dying wish.

Why Krew would want his friends and foes to win a tournament that he wishes to win is beyond me. There are also other small aspects of the storyline that dont quite match up. All who attended the reading of Krews will were told that if one of them won, they would receive the antidote that would save themselves and everyone else who is affected by the poison. As a result, one would expect that you would work together to win the championship. For whatever reason, this is not the case. With each race, you will compete against not only other teams, but your very own team. You will regularly attack your friends, and they will do likewise. While it works perfectly well from a gameplay standpoint, it can be slightly confusing storyline wise. Either way, its not a major matter and does not subtract from the enjoyment that youll gain in this frantic and addictive racer.

Jak X offers a satisfying combination of racing and combat elements that combine to form a somewhat different experience than what is found in similar titles. Its immediately apparent that the game is much faster and action-packed than other titles, involving constant on-screen action that involves both you and competitors vehicles being constantly under fire. Its a gameplay style that can be slightly overwhelming for some gamers, as you are required to do more than simply guide your vehicle around the course.

While the main mode is the Circuit Race, which simply involves guiding your speeding vehicle around various courses while keeping competitors behind you, there are also a number of other gameplay modes that combine to form a varying gameplay experience. Deathmatch, for example, pits you into various large domes that involve nothing more than killing as many of your competitors as possible. Whoever has the highest score once the time has depleted are deemed the winner.
Rush Hour involves racing through stages while running into oncoming small cars that explode upon impact. The aim of this mode is to collide with the largest number of incoming cars as possible.
Death Race is similar to Rush Hour, with the difference being that you are required to shoot vehicles that are traveling in the same direction as you, rather than ramming oncoming traffic. With each passing lap, the points that are scored doubled or triple respectively.
Freeze Rally is a solo mode that aims to achieve the shortest time possible around a track. Similar to your typical time trial, Freeze Rally is different as it centers around running into markers that are spread throughout the course that freeze the lap timer for a set period of time.
Artifact Race involves dome-like maps that are similar to those used in the Deathmatch mode. The aim of this mode is to race around the map and collect more artifacts than your competitors, with the artifacts appearing at random locations around the map.
Turbo Dash is a fast-paced mode that requires you to collection turbo balls and turbo continuously for a certain period of time. If you achieve this, you will score a point, allowing you to repeat this until you complete three laps or the time limit is reached.
The last of the gameplay modes is Sport Hunt, which is based in a deathmatch-like arena. The difference between Sport Hunt and Deathmatch is that you are hunting down robots or creatures, rather than trying to kill fellow competitors.

Jak X also supports a full multiplayer mode, with each of the gameplay modes that are available in the single player experience accessible in single console split-screen, LAN or online multiplayer types. The multiplayer modes work successfully and run smoothly, providing a suitable offering for those who are keen on multiplayer gaming.

While not exactly jaw-dropping, Jak Xs visuals are solid and clean, providing a similar visual experience that can be found in any of the previous titles in the franchise. Characters animate cleanly during cutscenes, environments offer solid detail and vehicles include various little graphical bits and pieces that make them look appealing. The occasional framerate drop during high-action sequences is apparent, however, these only occur for extremely short periods of time. A solid lineup of voice acting compliments the games visual appeal, as does the appropriate music and sound effects that occur whilst in-game.

While Jak X: Combat Racing is not an innovative or stunningly fantastic title, what developer Naught Dog has managed to create in this genre adaptation of their famous franchise is certainly a worthwhile experience for any fan of the series, while other games may find plenty to enjoy in this frantic arcade racer.

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