Retro Review! - Jak II

Jak and Daxter are back in the hit sequel Jak II (Jak II Renegade in Europe!) The series returns to its roots with Platforming, collecting, and puzzles all while adding new aspects like gunplay, dark powers, and a sweet new hoverboard! Our heroic duo must once again save the world, this time against a dark metalhead force! There is one thing I need to know, and that is where can I get a crocodog plushie?

(Read Valraven's Review of the first game in the series, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, here!)


jakii 7

daxter jak iiAs the game begins we find ourselves exactly where we finished the first game, Sandover Village in front of a giant precursor rift. As the rift opens, a metalhead army emerges invading in huge numbers and overwhelming our heroes. Thankfully, Jak makes a quick decision and he, Daxter, Samos, and Keira are all pulled through the rift and into a new place, Haven City. Unfortunately Jak is immediately captured by Erol and the Krimzon guards, under Baron Praxis, and then experimented on with Dark Eco. On the upside this gives Jak shiny new Dark powers, but also gives him a pretty big grudge against the Baron. Jak becomes an Antihero in Jak II, and while he does save the world, it is mainly due to it aligning with getting revenge on the Baron. Jak is rescued from the experimentations by Daxter who has been looking for him for two years and we find out shortly after that Jak and Daxter are in the distant future of their home. Our duo join up with the Underground, led by the Shadow (who turns out to be a much younger Samos), and Krew, who help Jak fight against and get closer to the Baron. Along the way they are able to find Keira, who is now a mechanic and has a plan to get Jak into the palace by winning the racing tournament.

JakII 5While working with the Underground, Jak rescues and helps Kor and a child, who is discovered to be the true heir to the throne and is related to Mar. As Jak completes tasks for both the Underground and Krew, he gains even more powerful dark abilities and sweet gun upgrades on his quest to get to the Baron while at the same time racing to find an artifact called the precursor stone first. The child is the Key to the tomb of Mar which is learned to hold the precursor stone, but once they get there the oracle deem the child too young and start sealing the tomb. Jak and Daxter slip in just as it seals and make their way to the inner chamber where they are met by Baron Praxis who forcibly steals the stone out from under our duo. Jak learns that the baron, with the help of Krew, plans to blow up the metalhead nest with the stone, unfortunately, breaking open the precursor stone would not only eradicate the metalheads, but also the city as well. Jak and Daxter are just in time to stop the bomb, and find out while they were doing so, the metalhead leader took the child and has the rift ring to be able to get back to their original timeline. So like all heroes would do, Jak and Daxter charge headfirst, guns blazing and darkness slicing straight into the heart of the Metalhead nest and faceoff against the leader. At the end of their epic battle, the Metalhead leader makes one last attempt to escape through the rift ring, crashing into and damaging it, but loses his life in the attempt sending his head flying down to the ground (which becomes a new ornament for the Naughty Ottsel, krew’s old place, now run by Daxter). With a final discussion, Young Samos takes the child through the rift to keep him safe while he grows up to one day fight his own battles, while Jak, Daxter, and Kiera decide to stay in the current timeline as their new home. There are many more secrets of Mar left to be discovered! 


JakII Gameplay

jakii gunplayThe gameplay is similar, yet different from the first game. They removed all of the eco abilities from the first game and instead replaced those with GUNS, and boy are the guns fun. You start out with a scatter gun which is similar to a shockwave shotgun, very effective for close range. Then you unlock the blaster, a mid-long range rifle, which definitely competes as one of my favorite guns in the game. Third you get the Vulcan, an LMG type machine gun, and the bullets do go brrrrr. Lastly, you get the Peacemaker, a charging energy ball rifle, that is very powerful. All four guns are pretty satisfying and definitely have many uses throughout the game. Another addition to the game is the Dark Jak form, which originates from the Dark Eco pumped into Jak. Dark Jak is very fun, but I do find myself wishing the form lasted longer and built up faster. You get two strong super moves while in Dark Jak form, but using them ends the form as well. If you collect enough precursor orbs you can unlock the ability to have infinite Dark Jak, but it’s going to take A LOT of orbs.

jakII hoverboard newPaired with the new abilities and guns, Jak’s moveset returns from the first game and honestly, I enjoy it, so happy it wasn’t changed! We also get a lot more time free-roaming an open world city, choosing which quests to do when they are available and doing challenges that unlock all around the city for rewards, but be careful, if you bump into a guard or cause too much trouble, they will start chasing you, and you’ll have to fight your way out or hide to lose the heat! This plays into several of the missions, which I really enjoyed! That being said, Jak II definitely had an upgrade in difficulty to some of its missions. Some were downright hard or frustrating, but that was definitely the point. I do wish it had more platforming, that’s not to say it didn’t have any, there is still plenty in the missions, it just wasn’t quite the focus like in the first game. It seems Naughty Dog wanted more of an emphasis on vehicle gameplay instead, which gives us the three different types of zoomers and the hoverboard! Overall you can see the influence of trying to make the game more like a teen version of GTA in Jak II. Nevertheless, Jak II is still one of my favorite games of all time, I guess you always wish your favorite had more of what it did best!

“It ain't no petting zoo out there... peeps be gettin' deep sixed!” -Daxter

The Metalheads are wiped out, but there’s still so much to do, see you in Jak 3!

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