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|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Stephen D. White
Charlotte Francis Morgan
Eric A Iwasaki
|Series||Jak and Daxter|
|Genre(s)||Platform, third-person shooter, action-adventure|
Jak 3 is an open world platform third-person shooter action-adventure video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game is the sequel to Jak II, and the third game in the series. The game picks up after the events of the previous games and the player takes on the dual role of recurring protagonists Jak and Daxter. It adds new weapons, devices and playable areas. The game was followed by Jak X: Combat Racing.
Like its predecessor, the gameplay of Jak 3 is a blend of platforming, driving, and gun combat. The player is led through the story as they complete missions, assigned by the various characters in the game. Missions can consist of anything from defeating particular enemies, reaching a specific location, or completing a puzzle. With the exception of timed or otherwise linear missions, the player is free to explore the game world as they see fit.
Cheats, made available as the player progresses, can upgrade weapons, flip the game world around into a mirror image of itself, or grant the player invincibility. After the game has been completed, the Hero Mode option is made accessible, which, when purchased, allows the player to re-play the game at a harder difficulty level, but with all previously unlocked cheats and extras still available. As Precursor Orb count is not reset, and the orbs are regenerated at their original locations, the player is able to regather orbs that he or she had already collected the previous time they played through the game. Collecting all 600 Precursor Orbs has some cosmetic effects on Jak's appearance, but has no effects other than this. In Hero Mode, Jak also keeps all twelve of his weapons but loses his light flight along with two of his dark powers until they are collected in their respective parts of the game.
There are some differences between Jak 3 and Jak II. Most notably are the changes undergone by the Haven City environments. Spargus City, the Wasteland, and Haven City function as the main hubs in Jak 3, where leaper lizards, buggies, and zoomers are respectively the main transportation source. While Jak II provided the player with only four different types of guns, Jak 3 expands on the concept with two additional modifications for each type, ending with a total of twelve weapons. Also, the 'Dark Jak' form, introduced in Jak II, which allowed the player to transform into a more powerful offensive version of Jak, is countered by a 'Light Jak' form that mainly focuses on defensive abilities. The jet-board makes a return appearance from Jak II to this game, with some additional upgrades as well.
Like its predecessors, Jak 3 takes place in an unnamed fictional universe created by Naughty Dog specially for the games. The game is set one year after the events of Jak II. Jak 3 largely focuses on the Wasteland, a large desert only briefly referred to in the previous entry in the series as being completely uninhabited and inhospitable.
Spargus City, a large settlement within the Wasteland bordering the ocean, is where the game begins, and serves as a hub for the player, where new weapons and upgrades can be earned, and most missions are given out. Later on, the plot shifts focus to Haven City, a sprawling metropolis which was the central locale in Jak II, though the area is only a fifth the size of the Wasteland. Some levels from the previous game are radically altered (Haven Forest, Metropolitan area) or removed entirely (like the Bazaar in Haven City), while others are added (New Haven City), branching off from Spargus and the Wasteland and Haven.
As in the games before it, Jak 3's two main protagonists are Jak and his best friend Daxter the 'ottsel', which is a fictional cross between an otter and a weasel. Jak is revealed to have the birth name of Mar in this game, named after his ancestor and the original founder of Haven City, Mar. Jak's mechanic friend (and potential love interest) Keira returns in this game. There is also Ashelin, the Governor of Haven City, who was previously involved with Torn, the now-commander of the Freedom League. Daxter's love interest Tess returns as a weapons designer; and Jak's mentor, Samos, also makes appearances through the game.
A new character, Damas, is first introduced here. It is revealed that not only did Damas lose his son, but was the leader of Haven City before being betrayed by Baron Praxis and being banished to the desert. More minor but returning characters include Sig, a spy for Damas back in Haven City who later becomes the new king of Spargus after Damas is killed, Jinx, a former member of the Underground, Vin, whose brain now resides inside a computer and Pecker, Onin's translator from Jak II becomes an adviser to Damas in the early parts of the game.
Few of the original antagonists from Jak II reappear in this game. A new secondary villain is Count Veger, a self-absorbed Haven City aristocrat who banishes Jak to the wasteland at the beginning of the game. The player later finds that Veger attacked the Palace himself, wishing to journey to the core of the planet and gain the power of the Precursors. Even as he attempts this, a species known as the Dark Makers begin to invade the planet, seeking to destroy it. The Dark Makers are Precursors who have been corrupted by Dark Eco, similar to the antagonists of The Precursor Legacy.
The main antagonist is the former Krimzon Guard commander Erol, first introduced in Jak II, renamed Cyber-Errol. He is a cybernetic version of himself, as he was badly wounded in Jak II when he crashed into a supply of Eco barrels in an attempt to kill Jak. Sometime before the start of this game, he restarts the manufacturing of Krimzon Guard Deathbots, whose original factory was shut down during the events of the previous game. Errol launches a war against Haven City in tandem with the remaining Metal Head monsters, and later forges an alliance with the Dark Makers. He obtains a massive Dark Maker terraforming robot at the end of the game, with which he attempts to destroy the planet. The Terraformer is destroyed by Jak as it advances through the Wasteland towards Spargus City.
The game begins with Jak and Daxter being banished into the Wasteland by the tyrannical Count Veger for supposed crimes against Haven City. Ashelin, who opposes the banishment, gives Jak a beacon before she leaves and tells him to "stay alive". As they travel through the desert, flashbacks reveal that Haven City is at war between the Freedom League and the surviving Metal Heads and their allies, the KG Death Bots. The Palace is then destroyed by an unknown force. As Jak, Daxter, and Pecker lose consciousness, they are rescued by a group of desert-dwellers, who take them back to Spargus City.
Waking up in Spargus, the King, Damas, says that Jak must earn his place in the civilization by proving himself as a warrior in both the Arena challenges and by serving the city, who his "life now belongs to" for being rescued. His missions involve recovering artifacts after sandstorms, racing for both buggies and Leaper lizards for upgrades, Eco crystals and buggies, catching Kanga rats upon a Leaper lizard, and several other odd jobs in the oasis city. Most important among these events is that Jak is bestowed Light Eco abilities to balance the darkness within, granted to him at the Precursor temple by an oracle who believes that Jak is the last hope for the civilization. These powers include time slowing abilities, healing powers, shield abilities, and even flight. Along the way, Jak befriends the Precursor Monk, Seem, and a buggy garage owner, Kliever – who initially dislike him until he gains their trust over time. During one of Damas' missions into the desert, Jak is found by Ashelin, who reveals that she knew Damas would find him since she knew he would check his old beacons. She refuses to tell him how she knows Damas and then begs Jak to come back to Haven City to defend it from the Metal Heads and the new Krimzon Guard Deathbots. Still embittered about being exiled, he refuses to return. Ashelin leaves him, but later, after finding out what the evil Count Veger has in store for his friends, Jak changes his mind and makes the journey via transport to Haven City. Jak and Daxter help reunite the resistance in Haven, who is divided due to barriers put up by enemies, and give them hope that they can beat back the Metal Heads and Deathbots.
Partway through the game, Jak and Daxter start to encounter strange creatures. A Precursor telescope in the outskirts of Haven City reveals that the beings are Dark Makers, who were once Precursors, but exposure to Dark Eco transformed them into twisted beings. Jak finds that a purple star in the sky is actually a Dark Maker space ship, and it is nearing the planet. The only way to stop the ship is to activate the planetary defense system situated at the core of the planet, and after defeating the Metal Heads and Deathbots in Haven City, Jak and Daxter begin their trek to the Planet Core.
Damas joins them as they burst though a destroyed section of the city searching for a way to the core. In the battle, Damas is crushed underneath a buggy and fatally injured. In his last moments, he asks Jak to find his long-lost son, Mar, and gives him an amulet bearing the seal of Mar to identify him. Remembering his younger self from the events of Jak II, Jak realizes that Damas is his father, but Damas dies before Jak can tell him. Veger arrives and tells Jak that its true, and he took Jak when he was a small boy away from Damas for his eco powers before Praxis banished Damas and seized control of Haven. Veger then rushes off to the core and Jak follows him, hungry for revenge.
Once there, they seem to have beaten Veger, and the Precursor entity tells Jak that he has earned the right to evolve into one of them. Veger, however, emerges from the shadows and takes the power for himself. However, it is soon revealed that Precursors are actually ottsels who are simply fluffing up the myth to match their appearance with their abilities. A baffled Veger is transformed into an ottsel, effectively as punishment for his actions. The Precursors send Jak and Daxter to the Dark Maker ship to slow it down while the planetary defense system charges. The mission is a success, but as the ship is breaking apart, a gigantic, spider-legged Dark Maker terraformer commanded by the Deathbot leader, Errol, escapes from the ship and descends to the planet. Jak follows, and after a battle, Errol and the Robot are destroyed.
Back in Spargus, Sig is put on the throne and Jak departs with the Precursors to see the universe. However, after the ship takes off, he emerges from the shadows and says that there was no way he could leave Daxter behind, not with "all their adventures ahead".
Development and release
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Jak 3 was developed by Naughty Dog for the PlayStation 2. Jak 3 was first revealed to be in the works by one of Superplay's writers on January 8, 2004. While browsing the Naughty Dog offices, he saw early work being done with desert environments. It was first announced by Sony Computer Entertainment on February 24, 2004. On April 19, 2004, information was revealed about the plot and gameplay. It was released in North America on November 9, 2004, and in Europe on November 26, 2004.
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Jak 3 received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the gameplay, as well as the immense story. The game currently holds an 85.33% approval rating on GameRankings based on 61 reviews. GameSpot gave it a score of 8.6/10, "Jak 3 is a game with exceptional production values and some of the nicest visuals on the PlayStation 2" and went on to praise the "Solid platforming action with even more weapons and abilities, tons of varied gameplay types, engrossing and well-told storyline, the trademark humor and plenty of unlockable secrets." Other praises have been given to the game for being reasonably easier in difficulty compared to its predecessor – which received minor criticism for its insufficient number of checkpoints.
IGN said: "If you're looking for art and technical achievement, Jak has it...Jak is it. Characters animate so smoothly it actually makes playing other games painful. Painful, I say! And it never stutters, never glitches, never hitches, and never, ever lets up" and gave it a score of 9.6/10.
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