Jak II

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Jak II
US box art
Developer(s)Naughty Dog
Publisher(s)Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s)Jason Rubin
Designer(s)Evan Wells
Writer(s)Daniel Arey
SeriesJak and Daxter
Platform(s)PlayStation 2
  • NA: October 14, 2003
  • AU: October 15, 2003
  • EU: October 17, 2003

Jak II[a] is an action-adventure video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. It is the second game of the Jak and Daxter series and a sequel to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. It was followed by Jak 3 the following year in 2004.

The game features new weapons and devices, new playable areas, and a storyline that picks up after the events of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. The player takes on the dual role of protagonists Jak and Daxter.

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 criticism, however, was directed at the checkpoint systems, darker tone, and high difficulty. The game is notorious among gamers for being one of the most difficult games on the PlayStation 2.


The core gameplay of Jak II remains somewhat similar to that of the previous game, with a recurring reliance on platforming challenges and vehicle usage. However, it is significantly different in some areas. Eco as a timed power-up from the previous game has been removed; and the introduction of the Morph Gun, a multipurpose firearm, adds a greater emphasis on enemy combat. The player can unlock four different gun mods for the Morph Gun they use throughout the game: the shotgun-esque Scatter Gun for close range fighting; the semi-automatic Blaster for long-range fighting; the Vulcan Fury, a high rate-of-fire weapon in the fashion of a minigun, which pierces enemies and breakables to hit multiple targets with a single round; and the Peace Maker, which fires charged blasts of energy and is extremely powerful, chaining an instant kill between enemies that are in close proximity to each other. The game also inherits the melee abilities of the prior game, and chaining a melee attack into a weapon fire usually increases the effect of the gun. For example, the Scatter Gun fires quicker than normal, the Blaster fires three shots at once, and the Vulcan Fury immediately reaches its maximum fire rate, but only if a melee strike is done right before the Morph Gun is fired.

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 progession focused on the collecion of Power Cells. Throughout the game, the player can collect Precursor Orbs which are sparsely dispersed throughout the various locations. The Orbs are non-essential to completion of the game, but allow the player to unlock cheats and other "secret" content. Jak can traverse Haven 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 has also gained the ability transform into a Dark Jak, a more powerful version of himself. The form is only accessible after Jak has absorbed enough Dark Eco to charge this ability. Dark Eco drops from slain enemies and can occasionally be found in red crates scattered throughout the world. In his Dark form, Jak becomes much more agile and his melee attacks become more powerful but he loses the ability to use the Morph Gun. Jak 2 also introduces a "currency" known as skull gems. By collecting these skull gems, dropped by most Metal Head creatures when defeated, Jak can gain additional abilities for his dark form and play minigames at kiosks throughout Haven City. These new abilities for Dark Jak can be used to unleash devastating attacks that kill all enemies within the vicinity at the cost of ending his Dark form immediately after the attack.



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 game largely revolves 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.


Jak (voiced by Mike Erwin) is the game's protagonist, along with his sidekick Daxter (voiced by Max Casella), an otter-weasel hybrid (known as an ottsel) and the game's comic relief. When they first arrive in Haven City, Jak is captured by Krimzon Guards and becomes the subject of Baron Praxis's (voiced by Clancy Brown) "Dark Warrior" project. He is subjected to several experiments, ultimately giving him the ability to become "Dark Jak", a beastly version of himself which is unleashed when Jak has gathered enough Dark Eco. 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, which is heavily lampshaded by other returning characters throughout the story.

Other important characters include Torn (voiced by Cutter Garcia), the second-in-command of the resistance movement known as the Underground; Sig (voiced by Phil LaMarr), a Metal Head hunter/Wastelander who gathers artifacts from outside the city; Krew (voiced by Bill Minkin), a vastly overweight gang lord; Tess (voiced by Britton A. Hill), a barmaid; Errol (voiced by David Herman), the Baron's right-hand man and commander of the Krimzon Guard; and Ashelin (voiced by Susan Eisenberg), 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.


Following Gol and Maia's defeat and discovering the mysterious object,[b] Jak and Daxter join Samos the Green Sage to witness his daughter Kiera's efforts at testing an ancient artifact known as the Rift Rider: a mechanical device linked to an ancient portal called a Rift Gate. Upon Jak activating the device, the gate opens and allows strange creatures to flood the world, before the rider sucks the group within it. Jak and Daxter become separated from the others during the ride and eventually land in Haven City—a dystopia ruled by the tyrannical Baron Praxis, and guarded by the Krimzon Guard, a paramilitary force led by Praxis's right-hand man Errol. While Daxter is forced to run away, Jak is arrested by Errol and imprisoned. Jak is put through a series of experiments for two years by Praxis involving Dark Eco, in an attempt to create a new soldier for the so-called "Dark Warrior Program".

During a prison break-in, Daxter finds Jak and breaks him out of the facility, though the pair discover that Praxis' experiments have left Jak with the ability to transform into a Dark Eco version of himself with increased strength, reflexes, stamina and aggression. In escaping the prison and accessing the city, the pair encounter an elderly man named Kor, protecting a young boy known only as The Kid. Kor sends them to make contact with the Underground, a resistance movement led by the mysterious figure known as the Shadow, seeking to bring down Praxis and replace him with the city's rightful heir, The Kid. Meeting with the Shadow's lieutenant, Torn, the pair learn that Praxis is seeking to protect the city from creatures known as Metal Heads, an evil biomechanical race dating back from Precursor times. Working for the Underground, the pair eventually discover that they have been flung nearly 500 years into the future, after finding the remains of their home village in the city's borders. To further complicate the matter, the pair also learn that the Shadow is none other than Samos—albeit, a younger version, unaware of the ruins significance.

Learning that Praxis is seeking an item within a tomb of the city's founder, Jak and Daxter continue working for the Underground, along the way taking work for the crime lord Krew, and reuniting with Kiera, who works as a mechanic in the city's arena. In the process, the pair discover Praxis created the war with the Metal Heads, bribing them with eco to attack the city so he could remain in command, but lost control when the Metal Heads betrayed him. Working with Young Samos, the pair eventually help the Underground find and access the tomb, but become separated when it closes shut on them. With no choice, the pair search the tomb and discover an ancient artifact within called the Precursor Stone, which Praxis steals in hopes of cracking it open and use its destruction that can destroy the Metal Heads, despite it having the potential to wipe out Haven City.

Seeking to rescue the Underground, after its chief members were kidnapped in their absence, Jak and Daxter reunite with the older version of Samos, who warns the group that The Kid must be found urgently, despite Young Samos contradicting his instructions. However, Jak and Daxter soon find they must, after preventing Praxis from completing his bomb with the assistance of Krew, whom the pair kill. Shortly after Krew's death, Metal Heads swarm into the city, forcing the Underground and Krimzon Guard to join forces to resist the invasion. At the same time, Jak and Daxter track down Praxis and find him meeting with Kor, who transpires to be the Metal Heads' leader in disguise and had been seeking to use The Kid in order to bring the world into ruin. Departing to complete a ritual he had been working, Kor kills Praxis, who entrusts the Precursor Stone to Jak and Daxter. The pair swiftly pursue after Kor, killing him and finding the very Rift Gate they used to travel through time, and ending the Metal Heads threat.

The Kid, whom Jak had discovered was his younger self, touches the Stone, reawakening the Precursor entity within, which flies through the gate. As Kiera arrives with a new Rift Rider she had created, Samos reveals that they cannot return to the past—instead, Jak's younger self and Young Samos must go, in order to ensure Jak will fulfill the destiny he completed with Kor's defeat. In the aftermath of the conflict, Daxter takes over Krew's bar, as he, Jak, Samos and Kiera prepare to enjoy their new lives in Haven City.

Development and release[edit]

Jak II began development in 2001.[1] Jak II is the only game in the series in which the versions for English-speaking regions feature the Korean voice-over track. The voice-over cast features many notable voice actors, including Showtaro Morikubo as Jak in the Japanese dub. The game's budget was more than $10 million.[2] It took 52 people, 140 voice actors, two musicians, and three sound engineers, plus Sony's internal staff.[2] The voice-acting was jointly recorded in the Los Angeles-based Pop Sound and the New York City-based Howard Schwartz Recording.[3]


Jak II received "generally positive reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[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."[7] 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.[5]

Steven Petite and Jon Bitner of Digital Trends consider Jak II to be the best in the series and one of the PlayStation 2's best platformers.[12] Kotaku's Luke Plunkett called Jak II one of the best PlayStation 2 games, highlighting the game's scale and characters.[13]

Criticisms were given to Jak II's shortage of mission checkpoints and overall difficulty. As Naughty Dog developer Josh Scherr once admitted: "One thing that everybody can agree on though, is that the game is just way too fucking hard."[14] IGN named Jak II the #8 hardest PlayStation 2 game, citing its combat, platforming, city navigation, and instant death scenarios.[15] Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine remarked: "It isn't proper to expect us to be perfect in order to make up for your game's many imbalances… Life might not be fair, but I certainly expect my games to be."[8] However, some saw the challenge as a positive, such as PlayStation Magazine, who said: "I appreciate a good challenge in today's games, and JAK II offers it."[9]


Jak II won Editor's Choice from IGN[10] and GameSpot,[11] and was followed by a nomination for Best PlayStation 2 Game by GameSpot as well.[16] GameSpot named it the best PlayStation 2 game of October 2003.[17] During the AIAS' 7th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, Jak II received nominations for "Console Platform Action/Adventure Game of the Year" and outstanding achievements in "Animation", "Art Direction", "Gameplay Engineering", "Visual Engineering", and "Character Performance - Female" for Anna Garduño's vocal portrayal of Keira.[18]

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.[19] Jak II received a "Platinum Prize" in Japan for sales of over one million units.[1] Worldwide, the game sold more than 1.6 million units by April 2004.[20]


In 2012, Jak II was remastered in the Jak and Daxter Collection on the PlayStation 3,[21] with the collection releasing on the PlayStation Vita a year later.[22] In 2017, Jak II was made available to play on the PlayStation 4 via emulation, featuring high-definition graphics and trophy support.[23]

Like its predecessor, the game was unofficially ported to PC by fans in 2023 as part of the OpenGOAL project.[24]


  1. ^ Jak II: Renegade in Europe and Oceania
  2. ^ As depicted in Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.


  1. ^ a b "Naughty Dog – 30 Year Timeline". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Newman, Heather (July 31, 2003). "Game producer is one of the top dogs". Detroit Free Press. p. 133. Retrieved January 1, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Naughty Dog (October 14, 2003). Jak II (PlayStation 2). Sony Computer Entertainment. Level/area: Credits.
  4. ^ a b "Jak II for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Jak II". Game Informer. No. 127. November 2003. p. 136.
  6. ^ a b Shoemaker, Brad (October 14, 2003). "Jak II Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Perry, Douglass C. (October 9, 2003). "Jak II". IGN. Archived from the original on June 22, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Steinman, Gary (October 10, 2003). "Jak II (PS2)". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Archived from the original on December 18, 2003. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Jak II". PlayStation Magazine. November 2003. p. 32.
  10. ^ a b IGNPS2 (December 15, 2003). "IGNPS2 Editor's Favorites 2003". IGN. Retrieved October 28, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b "Editors' Choice Games". GameSpot. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  12. ^ Petite, Steven; Bitner, Jon (July 30, 2019). "The best PS2 games of all time". Digital Trends. Archived from the original on March 24, 2020. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  13. ^ Plunkett, Luke (December 15, 2016). "The Best PS2 Games". Kotaku. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  14. ^ Moriarty, Colin (October 4, 2013). "Rising to Greatness: The History of Naughty Dog". IGN. p. 10. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  15. ^ "The Top 10 Most Challenging PS2 Games of All Time". IGN. April 27, 2005. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "Best PlayStation 2 game for 2003". GameSpot. Archived from the original on July 28, 2009. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  17. ^ Staff (October 31, 2003). "GameSpot's Month in Review for October 2003". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 7, 2003.
  18. ^ "D.I.C.E. Awards By Video Game Details Jak II". interactive.org. Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  19. ^ Brown, Howard (September 8, 2004). "5 New Titles Added To PS2 Greatest Hits". Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved August 3, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ Buchanan, Levi (April 15, 2004). "On the fly". Chicago Tribune. p. 29. Retrieved January 22, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ "Jak and Daxter Collection hits PS3 February 7". Blog.us.playstation.com. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  22. ^ "Jak & Daxter Trilogy arrives on PSVita". Blog.eu.playstation.com. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  23. ^ Sakar, Samit (December 1, 2017). "Three Jak and Daxter PS2 Classics arrive on PS4 next week". Polygon. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  24. ^ De Meo, Francesco (November 3, 2023). "Naughty Dog's Excellent Jak II Is Now Available on PC, Complete With High Framerates Support". Wccftech. Retrieved November 3, 2023.

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