In 2001, video game company Naughty Dog released “Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy” on PlayStation 2. The game earned positive reviews from critics and gamers alike. As a result of good reception and selling copies successfully, Naughty Dog worked on a sequel to the first game titled “Jak II.”
Inspired by “Grand Theft Auto III,” the sequel has a darker tone as the story follows Jak on his quest for revenge to seek a warlord named, Baron Praxis who infused him with a dark power source against his will for two years. Jak reunites with his best friend, Daxter to retrace their steps after they transported themselves to a dystopian world prior to Jak taken by the Praxis.
Jak II was released in 2003. (same year The Simpsons: Hit & Run came out) It received critical acclaim from critics, gamers & fans alike. It also sold enough copies successfully, allowing Naughty to develop a third installment titled, “Jak 3.” Other games such as a”Daxter,” “Jak X: Combat Racing” & “Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier.”
Naughty Dog’s recent game “The Last Of Us Part II” is currently out. They’re also working on the highly anticipated “Crash Bandicoot: It’s About Time.” To prepare for Crash’s game, I’m looking back on what’s good or bad about Jak II.
Today’s review doesn’t contain no crucial SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Does Jak II still holds up? Time to find out.
Legal & Illegal Qualities
Legal: Max Casella reprises his role as Daxter. He did a fantastic job for his respective performance.
Mike Erwin did a great job voicing Jak. For the first time, Jak gets to speak dialogue. I think Naughty Dog don’t want to rip-off Link from “Legend Of Zelda” due to the fact he doesn’t speak so much.
Phil LaMaar & Clancy Brown both did a decent job for their respective voiceover performances as Sig & Baron Praxis.
Graphics at the time actually do hold up for a 2003 game. I didn’t mind the cartoony look. I’m used to “Crash Bandicoot,” “Spyro” and last but not least, “Ratchet & Clank.”
The Tone is darker than the first game, while it retains some humor courtesy of Daxter’s shenanigans. Jak’s first lines in the game, indicates the series has matured into darker territory.
Mission Structure is obviously inspired by the Grand Theft Auto series with more emphasis with Jak doing favors for an underground resistance and going undercover as a hired gun for Krew in order to get closer to Baron Praxis.
Gameplay from the first game is retained. Jak’s punch, spinning kick, jumping and rolling remain intact.
Four weapons replace eco powers from the last game. Each one is a shotgun, a long range blaster, a electric ball which shocks a crowd of enemies and my personal favorite is a gatling gun firing many bullets.
More innovation goes to a hoverboard which allows you to perform neat tricks, target practice, racing with your hoverboard, time challenges and who couldn’t forget the power to transform into “Dark Jak.” As you progress, you get gun upgrades and unique powerful attacks for Dark Jak.
Soundtrack for the game is memorable.
Krimson Guards, Metal Heads, robots and other dangerous foes serve as bad guys trying to kill you. What can I say, use your weapons, skill and dark powers to beat them up.
A little boy and an old man both play important roles to the narrative. They actually serve a purpose.
2003 was a trend for characters prone to getting angry. Besides Jak, many hotheads were featured in movies/shows/video games like David Buznik from “Anger Management,” Wolverine in “X2: X-Men United,” Stitch in “Stitch The Movie,” Raven from the original “Teen Titans,” Yusuke from “Yu Yu Hakusho,” Homer Simpson in “The Simpsons: Hit And Run” Eric Bana’s “Hulk,” Willie from “Bad Santa,” Raphael in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003,” Tasmanian Devil, Marvin The Martian and Yosemite Sam in “Looney Tunes: Back In Action,” Goku and Vegeta in “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2” & Gimil in “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King.” That’s enough to fill in a group therapy.
Upon replaying the game, subtle foreshadowing will help you further understand what’s going on. If you have the guts to replay the whole game, you’re gonna have endure hard missions.
A precursor stone plays a big role. Both Jak & Praxis are searching for it containing something very important.
In the final mission, a Plot Twist is revealed. I can’t tell you. You’re gonna be gasping in a good way.
Unlike the first game, you get to continue you playing if you want to find all precursor orbs shaped like eggs. Good luck finding them all, it’s gonna be a long time.
Speaking of precursor orbs, the more you collect, the more cool features you unlock. I collected 115 orbs. Again, good luck finding them all.
Illegal: Some missions can be a pain to play through. When I was a kid, I was frustrated replaying the same mission over and over again, until I finally conquered a specific one studying a enemy’s attack patterns, adapting to race tracks riding a fragile hoverbike, solving puzzles among a few things found are thought provoking. I’m giving this flaw a pass, because the difficulty is worth a challenge. Jak II is basically a pre-Dark Souls game when it comes to replaying missions.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Jak II is my favorite game related to the Jak & Daxter series. This game still holds up. All the things I’ve listed on the positive section, indicates why Jak II is an instant classic in the video game industry. If you want to relieve your good old memories, buy it on The PlayStation Store alongside a bundle containing Jak & Daxter, Jak 3, and Jak X: Combat Racing worth your money.