Jak II

So, I finished Jak II. I’ll give a little mini-review.

First of all, this has got to be one of the first American games I’ve played in a long time. The style is far different from any platformer I’ve ever played, although I am limited to Mario and Sonic, mostly. I have tried Crash Bandicoot before, by the same company, but it was a rental and it was a long time ago. Basically, this is the most cinematic a platformer has ever been, and I really enjoyed it.

The first thing that caught me was the animation. It rivals that of any Disney/WB cartoon. I didn’t know they could pull off that sort of 3D animation on a PS2. And I’ve played a demo of Jak and Daxter (Jak 1) – the graphics and animation have improved by far. At the beginning and end of every mission, there’s a (often humorous) exchange with Jak, Daxter, and often another character filling them in on the details. Every character they encounter has their own unique look, way of moving, talking, and so on. I often found myself playing just to see what sort of exchange would take place next.

Jak II’s voice acting also matches that of any modern-day cartoon. I was entertained simply by the voice talent during cutscenes and puzzles. The music changes depending on what you’re doing, which I always thought was a quite nifty feature – I’ve only seen it before in Zone of the Enders. Sometimes there’d be music glitches, where after an event ended, no more music would play until the next scene. I’d say it sorta took some of the drama element out of some parts of the game.

Jak II is a platformer, but that nowadays could mean anything, and Jak II is a prime example of this expansiveness. The game is mission-based, so the gameplay is non-linear, but missions range from jumping on platforms while killing monsters (with either melee or firearm weapons) like any platformer, to racing across a city avoiding the cops a la GTA, to piloting a mech, to performing tricks on a hoverboard, to racing against opponents on racing tracks. And those aren’t even mini-games, of which the game has plenty.

The thing is, a lot of these things are HARD. It’s a good thing Jak II provides infinite lives, because I often found myself having to replay a few mission segments over a dozen times until I could finally pull off a successful advancement to the next area, or whatever my goal was. It got really tedious, but I was able to pull through.

It might be because of the difficulty, but it took me 25 hours to beat Jak II, which is an impressive length for a platformer. And I walked away pleased. If it’s good enough for me to make a review of it – and I don’t even work on a gaming site anymore – then it’s good enough for anyone to play. Now that I’m back into the swing of platformers, I have to get Sonic Heroes…

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