Jak II: Renegade PlayStation 2 - Official Website
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Naughty Dog
Released: Out Now
How do you follow up a hugely successful game? With a sequel of course, but there are many dangers in the direction that you take with a sequel. Simply creating a carbon copy is probably an assured route to raking in the dosh but ultimately it will leave fans of the original, who where expecting something more, feeling very disappointed and short-changed. Naughty Dog have taken the alternate approach though and have tried to make Jak II: Renegade something different. It certainly is a bold move, but has it worked? Read on.
Since the first game Jak has grown up and he's become cynical and abrasive in nature. The game follows on where Jak and Daxter left off. Jak and Daxter decide to investigate a strange energy portal not knowing where it will take them. When they come out on the other side they find themselves in foreign surrounds and Jak is soon taken prisoner whilst Daxter escapes and swears to free Jak. A couple of years later Daxter manages to do just that but unknown to Daxter, Jak isn't the same Jak that was captured. Jak had been captured by the evil Baron Praxis and has been the subject of many experiments with an evil substance called Dark Eco. It's widely regarded that the experiments have all failed but what the Baron's men don't realise is that the Dark Eco has changed Jak and he now has all kinds of powers that he doesn't know about.
The first thing that will strike you about Jak II is that tone of the game has definitely become more adult. Having played Jak and Daxter it's perhaps hard to swallow the fact that there is occasional swearing and crudeness within the game, not overly so but it is there. What this will do though is prevent young fans of the original enjoying the game (Jak and Daxter had a 3+ rating whilst Jak II has a 12+ rating). To be honest this is a shame as it really is a very good and very challenging platformer. It's not just a platformer though and could actually be termed as a combination of the action, adventure and platform genres. Jak doesn't have to walk everywhere either. In a nod to the Grand Theft Auto series, Jak can commandeer all kinds of vehicles. When he passes a vehicle that can be taken the words 'press triangle to use' appear and pressing the triangle button will make Jak jump in the driver seat. Jak can even use guns this time too and will have access to a variety of weapons such as the peacemaker, morph gun, scatter gun and vulcan.
Graphically Jak II looks fabulous and is surely pushing the PlayStation 2 to it's limits. The character models look and animate very nicely and are an improvement on those in Jak and Daxter. You can run the game in 60Hz mode and even enable a widescreen view and progressive scan if your TV supports such features. The level of detail in the characters is very impressive (almost four times the amount of polygons that made up the characters in the first game), although some of the locations in the game look a little lacking in detail, but most areas look very good. Generally the framerate is very smooth but there is the odd occasion where it dips a little but it never affects the gameplay in any way. What Naughty Dog deserves an award for though is the loading times, which are superb and completely at odds with usually sluggish load times that are common on the PlayStation 2. Camera problems do crop up from time to time but generally it's no worse than other platform games.
I always make it a priority of checking out the game options for subtitles before I play a game. I was pleased to see that subtitles can be enabled for Jak II: Renegade but upon playing the game I found it wasn't fully subtitled. The cutscenes and the tutorial hints, as well as the 'press triangle to use' message are all that's in text. Many of the characters' voices that you'll walk by are not subtitled. This is a little disappointing but it doesn't really spoil the gameplay as all the story line is conveyed through the cutscenes and these are subtitled. The text in the game is very clear and easy on the eyes so you won't be straining to read it, like on some games we could mention. The story is fairly non-linear and any tasks that have yet to be completed can be recalled from the menu that appears when you press the start button. The mini-map also highlights where you need to go, which avoids tedious roaming around.
Naughty Dog definitely made a bold move by restyling Jak and Daxter and the more adult tone of the game will come as a shock to some and a disappointment to younger gamers because it might prevent them from playing it. However, Jak II: Renegade is one of the better platform games out there and it's different enough to please those who don't like to feel that they've done it all before, which is so often the case with games of this nature.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Very different from Jak and Daxter and in many ways it's very different from anything seen so far on the PlayStation 2. It's also refreshing to see a platform game that gives you a certain amount of freedom.
The cutscenes and tutorial tips are subtitled so you'll be able to follow the plot.