Given the popularity and critical acclaim of Jak & Daxter, a sequel was a no-brainer. What we didn't expect was that a follow-up to the kid-friendly platformer would follow with such a dark, gritty, more mature approach. As you can see, developer Naughty Dog has left behind the bright Crash Bandicoot-style backdrops of the original in favor of a setting that looks more like a war zone. When we last left Jak and Daxter, they were peering into a mysterious, glowing doorway. At the start of Jak II, we learn that doorway is actually a portal to a dark, depressed city in a completely different time period. Naturally, the pair enter the doorway, but they aren't given a warm reception on the other side; the natives grab Jak, throw him in jail, and experiment on him using dark eco, the mutagenic goo from the last game.
Daxter eventually helps his friend break out of prison, but hard time has changed Jak into an angry, street-smart tough guy (see the sidebar for details). With this new attitude comes a new focus on game-play, too. Jak now has access to four guns, each loaded with a different kind of projectile--and the game's fighting is also more combo driven. For example, you can spin kick, then follow up by smacking a goon in the face with the butt of your gun. Or you can jump into the air and blast downward to apply a brutal finishing touch.
There are a number of changes to Jak II from a technology standpoint, as well. Every one of the hundreds of different computer-controlled characters you run across in the city look different; you can travel through the entire town in a number of futuristic flying cars, and the cut-scene graphics have improved dramatically. Darker, bolder, prettier--all told, this is definitely one sequel to look forward to.
Download Jak 2
In the sequel to spirited PS2 platformer Jak and Daxter, Jak grows up, picks up an arsenal of weapons, and takes up residence in a living, breathing futuristic city. Oh, and he talks now, too.
HOW WAS IT?
Somehow this game feels like the original Jak and Daxter-- and completely fresh and new at the same time. I'm happy to report that it's not dark for dark's sake or the Grand Theft Auto clone it might seem at first. It's got the last game's inventive puzzles, great timing, excellent vehicle physics, and a spot-on camera, but now there's shooting and even more variety. I can't wait to get my hands on the completed game.