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Jak III rounds off the trilogy nicely for fans of the series, however it’s close similarities to Jak II are slightly disappointing...
Believed to be the last chapter in the Jak & Daxter trilogy (unless we see the franchise farmed off as with Crash and Spyro), Jak 3 is finally upon us and delivers an enjoyable experience that fans will enjoy, although its relative lack of anything new could annoy even the most hardened fans of the comical duo.
Following on from the radical changes made within its predecessor, Jak 3 continues the trend of having an open-ended design closer akin to the GTA series then traditional platformers; this time around swapping the future cityscape with the â??Mad Maxâ? influenced wastelands.
Having dabbled with the powers of Dark Eco in Jak 2 to save the citizens of Haven City from the tyrannical Baron Praxis, Jak and Daxter find themselves exiled from the city by the very people they saved â?“ talk about gratitude. It transpires that the downfall of Praxis has turned Haven City into a battlefield, with various evil factions fighting for control of the city; namely an army of war robots led by Errol; Count Veger and naturally the regrouped Metalheads.
Despite being left for dead in the desert wastelands, Jak and Daxter soon find themselves rescued by a group of outlanders led by Damas; however life in the wastelands isnâ??t easy, and as such the duo must prove their worth, by carrying out various activities in the barren landscape of the outlanderâ??s city.
The nature of the game is essentially identical to that of Jak 2, with players completing various quests in a mostly linear fashion for the various characters throughout the game. Naturally the outlanderâ??s city is slightly less technologically advanced compared to Haven City, and as such the hover-cars from Jak 2 have been replaced with various lizards that you can jump on to and Mad-Max styled buggies and other vehicles when it comes to hurtling outside of the town and into the wastelands. Throughout the game youâ??ll travel back to Haven City (along with numerous other locations), which has literally become a battlefield between the City Guards and the various other factions â?“ naturally itâ??s up to Jak and Daxter to save the day.
In terms of the missions youâ??ll take on, the game has changed very little since Jak 2. Jak himself has had minor changes, but those familiar with his previous escapades will soon be au-fait with his standard assortment of spin kicks, dash-punch and bottom bounces. Weapons again return after being introduced in Jak 2, and again the same four categories are present - Shotgun, Rifle, Gattling Gun, Peacemaker â?“ although thankfully thereâ??s been a few changes in this area, which impact the gameplay quite significantly. Each weapon has two upgrades that you can make use of, which essentially feels like there are far more weapons on offer. Despite offering a wide range of moves and techniques at his dispersal, the real problem we have is that weâ??ve simply seen it all and done it before far too many times then we care to remember.
Still in touch with his darker side, Jak can make use of Dark Eco to transform himself into a frenzied killing machine with razor sharp claws and a nasty temper. This time around however, Jak soon finds himself acquainted with a group of Monks, who reveal the Light Side to Jak and allows him to make use of Light Eco. Whereas Dark Eco enhances Jakâ??s offensive capabilities and transforms him into a killing machine, the Light Eco improves Jakâ??s defensive capabilities and grants him techniques such as slowing down time, regenerate health, being able to use a protective shield and being able to fly for short periods with angel-like wings.
Without doubt the greatest aspect of Jak 3 is the sheer range of mission objectives featured within the game. Much like Jak 2 thereâ??s a lot of shooting and action, however the aforementioned dune-buggies make up a large amount of the game, and thankfully these provide a lot of fun as youâ??re hurtling over sand dunes and dishing out the damage to the various Metalheads that attempt to thwart your progress. In addition thereâ??s a range of on-rail shooting scenes, race sequences, hang-gliding missions and various homageâ??s to classic titles such as a Pac-Man influenced Daxter mission. The missions are heavily based on trial-and-error gameplay, and as such itâ??s rare that youâ??ll complete a mission on the first attempt, more often you have to work out the correct way to complete it by working out what not to do. The series has certainly moved away from its platforming origins, which may disappoint a few, but those looking for an assortment of action orientated gameplay, Jak 3 will certainly entertain.
Although we have issues with the fact that itâ??s so similar to Jak and Daxterâ??s previous escapade, there can be no doubt that the game will appeal to fans of the series; youâ??ll come across various characters from the previous games, in a final instalment that concludes the trilogy nicely. Sadly the gameâ??s length isnâ??t that long and will take most gamers (particularly those whoâ??ve played the previous games) between 10-12 hours, however in true Jak & Daxter fashion, the game contains a huge amount of unlockable goodies, ranging from new vehicles, cheats and even DVD-styled commentary laid over the top of every cut-scene â?“ an Easter Egg collectorâ??s dream.
The series has rightfully become something of a landmark achievement on the Playstation2, and Naughty Dog certainly continues to weave their genius in the gameâ??s visuals. Although the game looks almost identical to Jak 2, itâ??s testimony to the team and the engine behind the game, that it still looks so good. Few games on the Playstation2 can touch the vibrancy or clarity of the visuals, everything from the brilliant character models to the vivacious environments ensures that Jak 3 well and truly stands out from the crowd. Naturally the cut-scenes again stand out, not only because of the visual quality that rivals anything weâ??ve seen coming from animation studios in recent years, but also because the script and writing is both sharp and humorous.
Tying in with this is the excellent voice work, which helps to bring the various characters to life in a way that most games often fail at and often has you laughing along with the various jokes thrown into the story. Sadly the overall music is far less memorable, and again as with much of the game, the re-use of various sound effects from Jak 2 makes the overall experience feel slightly cheap.
The sheer range of gameplay involved and the amazing quality of the presentation ensures that it’s a fun game to play and won’t have you switching off until the end; as we’ve said it’s a great send-off for the pair – although as Evan Wells <a href=http://www.totalvideogames.com/pages/articles/index.php?game_id=3533&article_id=6001>exclusively revealed</a> to TVG, we doubt it’s going to be long before we see the pair again.
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