Jak II

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Jak II
JakIIbox.jpg
North American PlayStation 2 box art
Developer(s) Naughty Dog
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) Jason Rubin
Designer(s) Evan Wells
Programmer(s) Andy Gavin
Mark Cerny
Christophe Balestra
Christopher Christensen
Artist(s) Bob Rafei
Bruce Straley
Composer(s) Josh Mancell
Larry Hopkins
Series Jak and Daxter
Engine Kinetica
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s)
  • NA: October 14, 2003
  • AUS: October 15, 2003
  • EU: October 17, 2003
Genre(s) Platform
Action-adventure
Third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player

Jak II (known as Jak II: Renegade in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Africa) is a 2003 platform action-adventure third-person shooter video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game was developed for 24 months with a budget of $15 million,[1][2] is the second game of the Jak and Daxter series and is the sequel to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. It was followed by Jak 3 a year later.

The game features new weapons and devices, new playable areas, and a storyline that picks up after the events of The Precursor Legacy. The game's plot was noted for being much darker than its predecessor's. As in the previous game, the player takes on the dual role of recurring protagonists Jak and Daxter. There is also a new array of characters such as Torn, Erol, Krew, Kor, Ashelin, and Sig, as well as some returning ones, such as Samos and Keira.

Jak II received critical acclaim upon release. Critics applauded the game for being very polished in nearly every department, with many agreeing it was one of the best PlayStation 2 games released at the time. Some criticisms were directed at the checkpoint systems.

Gameplay[edit]

The gameplay of Jak II is significantly different from the previous game. The Eco-based gameplay from the previous game has been changed from timed power ups to combat moves. Other changes include the introduction of weapons such as the Morph Gun, a multipurpose firearm. The player will unlock four different gun mods for the gun as they play through the game; the Scatter Gun, for close range fighting, the Blaster, for long range fighting, the Vulcan Fury, which functions the same as the Blaster but with less damage and a much greater rate of fire, and the Peace Maker, which fires charged blasts of energy, and is extremely powerful.

Haven City functions as the game hub-world, with various other environments accessible from it. Here, Jak can access new missions by visiting various allied characters. These missions serve as a replacement for the previous game's Power Cell collection gameplay. Throughout the game, the player can collect Precursor Orbs dispersed throughout the various worlds, in order to unlock cheats and other content. Jak can traverse the large city using hover vehicles, and a jet-board, which allows him to hover across water and grind on rails.

Due to experiments conducted on him for two years, Jak can transform into a darker version of himself, known as Dark Jak, by killing enemies for Dark Eco. In this form, his melee attacks become more powerful, but he loses the ability to use the Morph Gun. By collecting Metal Head skull gems, gained by killing Metal Head creatures, Jak can gain additional abilities for his dark form.

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

Jak II takes place in the same fictional universe created by Naughty Dog for Jak and Daxter, though five hundred years after the events of the first game. The plot largely revolves around events in and around Haven City, a dystopia ruled by Baron Praxis and his Krimzon Guard law enforcers. Haven City serves as the game's hub location, although the player is frequently given tasks that must be fulfilled outside of the city.

Characters[edit]

Jak (voiced by Mike Erwin) is the game's protagonist, along with his sidekick Daxter (voiced by Max Casella). When they first arrived in Haven City, Jak was captured by Krimzon Guards and became the subject of Baron Praxis' "Dark Warrior" project. He became subject to several experiments, ultimately giving him the ability to become Dark Jak, a beast-like version of him which is unleashed when Jak has gathered enough Dark Eco. Daxter is an otter-weasel hybrid (known as an ottsel) and is the game's comic relief. After two years of searching for him, Daxter finally sneaks into the prison holding Jak and rescues him. This is also the first time Jak is heard speaking in the series.

Other important characters include Torn, the second in command of the resistance movement known as the Underground; Sig, a Metal Head hunter/Wastelander (someone who gathers artifacts from outside the city); Krew, the vastly-overweight gang lord; Tess, the barmaid; Errol, the Baron's right-hand man and commander of the Krimzon Guard; and Ashelin, the daughter of Baron Praxis who helps the Underground behind her father's back. Baron Praxis and the Metal Heads' leader Kor are the story's antagonists.

Story[edit]

Some time after the events of The Precursor Legacy, Jak, Daxter, and Samos Hagai, the Green Sage, are invited by Keira, Samos’ daughter and Jak’s romantic interest, to help her test a machine, the Rift Rider, that utilizes the Precursor Ring, an artifact recovered from the Acheron Citadel. When activated, the Rider opens a portal that reveals a strange creature, who sucks them in. Jak and Daxter are separated and land in Haven City, a dystopia ruled by the tyrannical Baron Praxis. The Krimzon Guard, a paramilitary force led by Praxis's right-hand man Errol, arrest Jak and chase Daxter away. For the next two years, Jak is subjected to a series of experiments that infuse his body with Dark Eco, giving him the ability to transform into a mutated version of himself with increased strength, reflexes, stamina and aggression.

The day before Jak is scheduled to be executed, Daxter breaks him out of prison, and together, they join the Underground, a resistance movement that seeks to replace Praxis with the Kid, the rightful heir of Haven City's founder, Mar. They also reunite with Keira and Samos, and discover that the "Shadow", the leader of the Underground, is in fact a younger version of the latter. Torn, the Shadow's lieutenant, explains that Praxis is at war with the Metal Heads, a race of cyborgs that date back to Precursor times. While exploring the city ruins, Jak and Daxter come across the remains of Samos's hut and realize that they have been flung nearly 500 years into the future, with Haven City built over the remains of Sandover Village.

Unable to defeat the Metal Heads, Praxis obtains the Precursor Stone, a large gem that contains the essence of the last living Precursor. He intends to weaponize the stone and use it to destroy the Metal Head home nest, unaware that doing so will also destroy Haven City. Krew, a crime lord with ties to the Underground, builds a bomb strong enough to release the stone's energy, but is subsequently killed when Jak detonates the bomb prematurely.

Meanwhile, Vin, an Underground agent tasked with maintaining the city's defenses, is killed, allowing the Metal Heads to launch an invasion. Jak intercepts Praxis and his men confronting Kor, an elderly man who acts as the Kid's guardian. Kor reveals that he is the true leader of the Metal Heads, as well as the creature responsible for bringing Jak and his friends into the future. After a brief battle, he kills the Baron and escapes. With his dying breath, the Baron entrusts the Precursor Stone to Jak so he can save the city.

As the Krimzon Guard and the Underground join forces to resist the invasion, Jak breaches the nest and locates Kor. Kor admits that he arranged for Jak to be mutated so that he could acquire the Stone, which would give him the power to destroy Mar's descendants. The Kid turns out to be Jak himself, sent into the past to protect him from the Metal Heads, so that when the time came, he could challenge Kor's evil. As the younger Jak is pure and untouched by Dark Eco, he is the key to unlocking the Stone's energy.

Jak and Daxter manage to behead Kor using a portion of the Precursor Ring, neutralizing the remaining Metal Heads. The young Jak releases the Precursor entity, reactivating the ring and allowing the Shadow to escort him to the past, ensuring that his destiny will be fulfilled. Taking over Krew's bar as their new home, Jak, Daxter, Samos and Keira prepare to live out the rest of their lives in Haven City.

Development and release[edit]

Jak II began development in 2001.[3] Jak II is the only game in the series in which the versions for English-speaking regions feature the Japanese and Korean voiceover track. The voiceover cast features many notable voice actors, including Shotaro Morikubo as Jak. The other games in the series did not follow suit, leaving the voices to be exclusive to the Japanese and Korean regions.

Reception[edit]

Jak II reviews
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 87.93%[4]
Metacritic 87/100
Review scores
Publication Score
Game Informer 9.25/10
GameSpot 9.1/10
IGN 9.5/10
X-Play 4/5
Awards
Publication Award
IGN Editor's Choice 2003
GameSpot's Editor's Choice 2003

Jak II received critical acclaim from critics. The game currently holds a 87.93% approval rating on GameRankings based on 79 reviews.[4] IGN gave it a score of 9.5/10, saying "Naughty Dog weighs in with heavy guns, a dark story and mature content...And unlike pretty much every other platformer in the world, the story here is filled with characters who you'll either love or hate. It's the story that gives this game the feeling that it's an adventure, like Indiana Jones or even Max Payne. Jak is far more likeable now that he speaks, and the fact that he's pissed off and owns honking big guns weaves in an unmistakable new level of emotion into the narrative."[5] GameSpot said "Everything in Jak II comes together to produce one of the best-looking, best-playing games on the PS2 so far" and continued "Jak II is an enormous and ambitious game that succeeds on every level, the gameplay is rewarding, and the story twists and turns more than you'd expect from a game like this."[6] Game Informer praised "having the freedom to tackle challenges in a less linear fashion" and likened the new gameplay to the Grand Theft Auto series.

It won Editor's Choice from IGN[7] and GameSpot,[8] and was followed by a nomination for Best PlayStation 2 Game by GameSpot as well.[9]

Jak II was added to Sony's Greatest Hits lineup on September 8, 2004, signifying at least 400,000 copies sold in its first 11 months.[10] Jak II received a "Platinum Prize" in Japan for sales of over one million units.[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]