Review by wolverinefan
"A rather flawed sequel and GTA clone"
I was living on a really tight budget when Jak II came out but I yanked $50 out of no where to buy it because I loved Jak and Daxter so much. Upon putting the game in I was very disappointed. As the journey continued frustration set in as did many road blocks and about 2/3 through the game I sold it to a friend who I accidently ripped off because it became a Greatest hits a mere month later. I finally bought the game again last fall and after some issues I needed to get around, I have finally completed the game. Is it the best game ever? Highly overrated? A bad sequel? Read on to find out!
At the end of the first game our heroes enter a doorway. Jak II picks up a few months later. Jak has been tortured and exposed to Dark Eco. Daxter rescues him and Grand Theft Auto style you hook up with some guys and set out on bringing Haven City some peace. Problem is, there's a much bigger issue at hand that no one knows about. To be honest the story line is a drastic change from the first and maybe that's why I had trouble getting into the game. Also, some factors were way too predictable. But by the end the story really unfolds nicely, twists are all over the place and it has a solid ending that leads up to the third game in the series. In some way I'd like to say this entry is skipable in the series but it really isn't as it holds many plot elements so try to play this series in order. Daxter isn't needed in the time frame though so you can miss out on that and just do the original trilogy since Jak X is also not really needed.
Graphic wise this game still looks nice. Character models look good and I love the look of the later Metal heads in the game, very impressive. Cut scenes look great. Very little in the graphics department has aged at all, sure some things do look better in today's games but considering how old this game is now, it looks darn good. The level design itself is overly complicated in the city itself but the little sub areas look good and have a unique feel to them all. A whole lot of color is never really found in the game though so expect a very dark adventure ahead of you. Some of the later levels look like they spent a lot more time in development than the earilier areas. No clue why but that's the way it felt.
The sound in the game is very good. Voice work is the same and the new voices in the game are also very well done. You can tell a lot went into finding just the right voice actors for this game. The sound effects are top notch from glass breaking, to the guns sounding different. Even during the cut scenes the sound effects sound really good and get a bit more use than in rest if the game. Even the music is good. None of the songs really bugged me at all and it never felt like I had listened to the same music piece for hours and hours. On the other hand I wouldn't run out and buy the soundtrack, even if it was dirt cheap. It wasn't that good...
Perhaps the first flaw of the game is the control. It's easy to pick up and play the game. The problems arise with that it does appear to be a bit overly sensitive. This caused the hoverboard parts to be harder than need be. I also found aiming, or lack there of, to cause me some problems but after a few hours I got use to it. It's not that there is no aiming it's just kind of floaty and feels random. There is a nice amount of leeway when it comes to shooting so it doesn't have to be perfect. It still could have been better and it would have made the actual game play a little bit better.
To best describe the game play in Jak II is to think 90% Grand Theft Auto and 10% platforming. Jak II has a huge city to explore which is largely populated by enemies and hover cars to steal. Most of the time you will have one or two missions to complete. The game is full of missions and they are almost all plot based. There are a ton of missions. Now all take place in the city itself though, about half take place elsewhere, be it the mines, inside buildings or whatever but you will be seeing a lot of the city. I actually got sick of seeing the city after doing some of the chase and race missions. They really were a pain in the butt and having to redo them over and over and follow the same path really drove me insane.
Perhaps the first thing you'll notice though is how tough the game is. It's not impossible but it's hard and it all starts early on. You'll quickly realize that Naughty Dog really didn't think about evening out the difficulty because around the mid point of the game you will encounter the hardest, most frustrating mission in any game you will play. Completing it doesn't even require skill, it's about luck and figuring out a way to some how glitch something up and pray. A few of the missions get way too difficult at times as well but that one is just a pain and if you don't think of a specific move that you never use in this way then you will be pulling your hair out. I really mean this but one of the piece hunt missions will have you screaming in rage over how badly done the mission is. I really wish that naughty Dog has fine tuned things a bit more.
I think that's why I really don't care for this game. It doesn't feel like it's where the Jak series was suppose to go, it's a bit too dark compared to the first and really lacks focus in important areas. You only get four weapons but you will need them for a few different situations. You also get a hover board which is for grinding and you can change into Dark Jak at times as well. There are times, not many, where quick thinking is required to switch between things but those moments are few and far between and even then they don't provide too much of a problem. Jak still has his double jump and then hover skill so that's always useful.
The game is long. Besides being long there over a ton of orbs to find which unlock secrets in the game. The secrets are actually halfway decent and worth trying to get. Plus Hero mode is a lot of fun as well. You can alter the characters looks, get unlimited life and ammo, watch all fo the cut scenes. It's a lot of fun things to mess around with and while they don't add anything enw to the game, it can make for some interesting times on some replaying of the game.
I honestly can't recommend Jak II. It's a very flawed game and those flaws bring the game down in my book. It isn't a terrible game though and is worth a rental at the very least. It has a lot to offer though for those willing to stick with it. While I do regret buying it at its full price back on launch, I did rebuy it for a much cheaper price and most stores sell it now around that price and I will admit I am glad it's part of my PS2 collection. As a stand alone title I can't recommend this game either. You really should play 1 first and be sure to pick of Jak III as it better defines the game play and ends the series on a high note which is rare these days.
Story - 8/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Control - 7/10
Game Play - 6/10
Replay Value - 6/10
Final Score - 6/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 04/30/07
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