Reviews: Jak 3 Wastelander

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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. Let’s 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. There’s not much to say here, since there’s 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 it’s 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 they’re not all executed well. However, the reveal near the end is probably my favourite moment in the series. If you’ve 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.

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