Reviews: Jak II Renegade

Nintendo Hard, but Enjoyable

This is a game I actually remember writing to Naughty Dog, asking for a sequel. I was pleased to find out a few days after I sent the letter that one was coming- a few months later, no less. I was pumped, and I still was pumped to replay it part of the HD Trilogy.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first. This game is MUCH harder then the first. It's not the hardest game ever made, and some missions are harder then others (I'm looking at you, Turret missions), but the overall difficulty can be a turn off for some. The map is also incredibly big- and there's no convenient warp system like in the first game between hubs. Completing a mission for Krew and then having to slog it back to the Underground can be a drag on the pace.

OK, postive vibes now. The art shift from super bright and cartoony to dystopian cyberpunk is very well done. I can buy into this being a very down, very worn world, from the rundown slums to the grand palace where the Baron lives.

Jak's basic control are still as solid as they were in Jak and Daxter. They mesh very well with two new mechanics- weapons, and Dark Jak. Jak's arsenal includes the standard shotgun, rifle, machine gun, and BFS, and being able to combine shots with melee attacks is always satisfying. Switching weapons is as easy as using the D-Pad, and you'll get to know their palces very quick. Dark Jak is sort of like a Super Mode, and you can unlock special abilities that can be used simply by using the abilities that Jak naturally has. (For example, you can eventually unlock a ground pound shock wave that you can execute by using the ground pound attack).

Also, the story is fantastic. It gripped me when I first played it and it still grips me now.

In conclusion, if you're in for a Nintendo Hard challenge in a dystopian setting and a good story, Jak II can be right up your alley.

A well done (if frustrating) mood shift

After a well-received colourful and fun adventure, where should a series be taken next? To a grim cyberpunk dystopia, obviously! Welcome to Jak II: Renegade.

Introductions aside, itís actually impressive how this game manages to go under such a dramatic tonal shift while still keeping much of the originalís charm intact. The game still retains a healthy amount of platforming. Characters and concepts from the previous game are integrated in interesting ways and without intimate knowledge of it being necessary. On rare occasions the game feels like itís trying too hard to be edgy, but the change is mostly done well.

There are many cool additions, also. The different guns are an interesting way of bringing the first gameís eco powers into the new setting, and they each fulfill a crucial role in your arsenal. My favourite new feature is the JET-board. In most games a tool like this would be limited to one area, but being able to ride it wherever you want is fantastic. The new Dark Jak form is lacking, however, as it takes too long to build up.

While the first game was visually impressive, this is one of the best looking games on the system. The character models have been vastly improved, with just the right amount of stylisation to fit with the graphical capabilities. There is a huge amount of detail in the environments, and areas such as Haven Forest look downright gorgeous.

Where this game excels compared to other Jak games is in the plot department. A good job is done in establishing a believable world. All of the characters are interesting and have a role to play in the story. My personal favourite is Krew, who has a wonderfully over-the-top design and is a pretty diabolical schemer when it comes down to it.

This gameís major failing, however, is its difficulty - both the fact that itís so high and so inconsistent. The worst offender is the racing missions. These combine rubber band AI, wonky vehicle physics, and instant failure upon death to create the perfect storm of obnoxiousness. The checkpoint system is very unforgiving, and the lack of ammo replenishment means that things can become harder the more you die.

Ultimately, Jak II is worth playing for anyone who doesnít mind a bit of challenge, even those who are turned off by the darker style. Just be wary of broken controllers.