Reviews: Jak 3 Wastelander

Satisfying End to a Trilogy

After Jak II, I had very high hopes for Jak 3. For the most part, I think Jak 3 brought some great things to the series but didn't get everything right.

Once again, Jak controls wonderfully, both with his previous abilities and new ones. He gets a new light form in addition to his dark form, and this makes for some fun platforming with his flight form. His weapons also return, and you get additional for each. I like most of them, but my 2 issues with the weapons are that A) some just seem completely worthless, like the Anti Grav one on the BFG, and B) I felt that to really get the best ammo consumption, I had to go out of my way to get collectibles to increase ammo count. Don't get me wrong, I still liked most of the upgrades (the richotching rifle shots being a personal favorite), but I didn't use all of them. We also get more ground vehicles, which, aside from the occasional required mission, are fun but forgettable. And the difficulty has been smoothed out. It's challenging, but at least it's the good challenging where you don't mind going at it.

Areas are just as well made before. We finally get to go to the Wasteland, and find it just as harsh as we heard it is. Haven City has areas crumbling due to the war going on and is incredibly creepy in some areas. The Temple is wonderfully atmospheric with it's grand structures. Naughty Dog can really make a nice looking game. However, my problem with area size in Jak II is back here. Haven City is smaller, but it's still enormous. And good Lord, the Waste Land is GIGANTIC. Once again, no warp points, so that is kind of a bummer.

The story is enjoyable, but it didn't hold my attention like it did in Jak II. The writing is still enjoyable and witty, and it can keep you on your toes, but this is not the greatest story ever told.

So yeah. Jak 3 is solid platformer, but not quite as good as Jak II.

An improvement in many ways, but not all

As three is the magic number, the Jak series had to finish up with a third installment: Jak 3. Letís talk about it.

The third game makes many tweaks to improve upon the second. The checkpoints are thankfully more forgiving. In fact, the difficulty in general is much more manageable. You can choose what to unlock with orbs, and more useful unlocks (such as weapon upgrades) are offered. Orbs are everywhere, which makes exploring much more rewarding. Dark Jak is made more useful since you switch back and forth at any time.

One thing to praise the game for is the fun factor. There are a huge amount of weapons this time around (12). They mostly feel distinct and all have their uses, though some lack or seem redundant. Light Jak is a cool addition, but I never found the shield or time freeze to be that useful. Despite some issues, these - along with the JET-board and other vehicles - give a huge amount of ways to approach any situation, and are fun to mess around with even outside of missions.

Presentation wise, this game looks fantastic. Thereís not much to say here, since thereís little change from the last game. The huge desert is very impressive, though.

Unfortunately, the construction of the game seems a bit more haphazard than the last. While every weapon in the second felt necessary, here itís easy to ignore most of your arsenal. There are more gimmicky missions, and enemy behaviours often seem similar. The second game usually provided many routes to your destination, but here getting to where you want can be a hassle.

This also applies to the story. Many questions from the last game remain answered in lieu of more unanswered questions. It often seems like Jak is the only one who does anything, with most of the characters being reduced to just giving missions (well, more than usual). There are interesting ideas here and there, but theyíre not all executed well. However, the reveal near the end is probably my favourite moment in the series. If youíve played the game, you know what I mean.

Ultimately, Jak 3 takes several steps forward and back. Whether you like it more than the previous game will depend on how much a consistent world and story matters to you. Regardless, I still recommend it to anyone, especially those that enjoyed the last.