North American PlayStation 2 box art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Series||Jak and Daxter|
Jak II (known as Jak II: Renegade in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and Africa) is a 2003 platforming video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. It 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 was met with near 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 of the time. Some criticisms were directed at the checkpoint systems.
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 various new gun mods for the gun as he plays 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 over 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.
Jak II takes place in the same fictional universe created by Naughty Dog for Jak and Daxter, though hundreds of 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 often serves as a hub, although the player is often also given tasks that must be fulfilled outside of the city, places that are separated via airlocks.
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; Erol, 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.
The game begins with Jak and Daxter, the protagonists, and Samos Hagai, their guardian, watching as Keira, Samos’ daughter and Jak’s romantic interest, study the Rift Rider and Precursor Ring that they found in the previous game. When activated, the Ring opens a portal that the four of them are flung through. They arrive in a dystopia known as Haven City, which is under the control of the ruthless Baron Praxis, locked in a war with a race of beasts called Metal Heads. Jak and Daxter are separated on arrival, and Jak is captured by Praxis’ Krimzon Guard. While Jak is imprisoned, he is subjected to experiments with Dark Eco; when exposed to Dark Eco, he turns into a mindless beast. These experiments also leave him angry and ruthless.
Two years after his capture, Daxter breaks him out of prison, and together, they join an underground rebel movement that seeks to place the rightful ruler, a boy only referred to as the Kid, on the throne. While serving this Underground, Jak finds Keira and Samos, as well as a younger version of Samos. He also learns that Praxis has been working with the Metal Heads to maintain the throne. What surprises him the most is that Haven City is built on the ruins of his home, Sandover Village, an unknown amount of years into the future.
Partway through the game, Praxis obtains the Precursor Stone, an artifact of immense power. Praxis intends to crack open the stone while it is inside the Metal Head nest with the aim of dealing a crippling blow to the Metal Heads, not knowing that destroying the Precursor Stone will set off a chain reaction that will destroy the planet. The Baron leaves the destruction of the stone to Krew, the mob boss of Haven City. Jak finds Krew and destroys the device he is building to crack the stone; Krew is killed in the resulting explosion.
After Krew’s death, Metal Heads invade the city. Jak finds Praxis on the outskirts of the city in the Construction Zone, confronting Kor, a member of the Underground who had been guarding the Kid. Kor is then revealed to be the leader of the Metal Heads. He mortally wounds Praxis and flies off. Before he dies, Praxis shows Jak another Precursor Stone bomb, this one containing the Precursor Stone. Daxter rummages through the bomb and deactivates it, and Jak takes the stone.
As the Krimzon Guard and the Underground fight the Metal Heads in the city, Jak travels to the Metal Head nest to confront Kor. There, he finds that Kor has the Kid and a Precursor Ring like the one that brought Jak and his friends to Haven City. Kor informs Jak that the Kid is in actuality, a young Jak. Jak had been sent into the past to learn the skills necessary to defeat Kor. The young Jak, because he is innocent and untouched by Dark Eco, is able to release the Precursor entity trapped in the stone.
During the battle with Kor, Kor is decapitated by the Precursor Ring, which damages it. Before it breaks up, young Jak releases the Precursor entity, which enters the Ring. Samos and Keira arrive and send young Jak and young Samos back in time through the Ring, leaving Jak, Daxter, Samos and Keira to live out their lives in Haven City.
Development and release
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.
|Jak II reviews|
Jak II received positive reviews from critics. 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 that fact that he's pissed off and owns honking big guns weaves in an unmistakable new level of emotion into the narrative." 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." 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.
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.
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