Review by butterbeancd
"Platformers have reached a new level"
In recent years, platformers have begun to evolve. They have become more mature in nature and have inherited some RPG-like qualities. Jak II has continued this evolution with beautiful graphics, great gameplay, and a deep story and characters.
There isn't much argument here. Jak II is one of, if not the best looking game on PS2. The environments are all superb and the character models are fantastic. All people and objects you come across look real and there are very few bugs. There is almost no loading time between areas.
The player very rarely has to think about the hunk of plastic in their hands while they play this game. The controls are easy to understand and execute, and the weapon system is handled very well. All actions correspond to a button, and can be easily switch through in battle. This causes the use of more strategy when facing a large group of enemies. You can no longer run through the enemy lines mashing random buttons and get away with it. The missions are very well done and avoid getting repetitive, which is where many platformers lose points. They are difficult enough that you have to concentrate and think about how to complete them, but not so hard that you get frustrated at the inability to do them. The only reason this score is lowered is because of the driving in the city. I like the Grand Theft Auto idea of stealing different vehicles to complete tasks and get from place to place. However, the streets often get too crowded and jammed up. Also, there are so many Krimzon Guards on the ground that you will often hit one and cause the whole city to start coming after you, guns blazing.
This is where platformers are beginning to pick up some traits from RPGs. Personally, I think Jak II has the best story of any platformer to date. It is easy to follow, not too simple but not too complex. The reasoning for doing things also makes sense and has a purpose, other than ''go here and pick up this thing so I can use it to power this other thing to go somewhere else.'' You have to accomplish many different tasks in order to help protect the city, and I think it is executed seamlessly. The story is also much darker than the first, providing new themes and new looks on good an evil. The story is still very funny, but the game is no longer light and airy. At times it is hard and dark and provides a look at corruption and evil that most platformers don't even touch.
I think this is another area that Jak II stands above and beyond most other platformers. There are a host of characters focused on, each with their own personality and own motives. Some of them are also very unpredictable. You can't tell if some are good or bad, and others who seem good are actually bad and vice versa. The normal platformer introduces virtually all major characters at the very beginning and none of them change throughout the game.
Overall, this is one of the games I have enjoyed the most recently. The gameplay doesn't get repetitive or annoying, the story and characters are solid, and it is quite funny at times. And this time the humor and themes are more mature. That doesn't mean inappropriate, though. I think the darker tone was well suited for this game and that the first and second Jaks can appeal to almost all gamers. I highly recommend this game to just about any gamer out there. Jak II has raised the bar for platformers, and has raised the expectations for future installments in the genre. I can't wait for Jak III.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/27/03
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