Oh SCEA, you’re
home to some of the best franchises out there. Witty robots, gangsta’s, and small
furry animals walk the halls in your office. You’ve already given us quality
games this year like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, and Sly 2: Band
of Thieves. Is there anymore room for greatness? OF COURSE!!! The PS2’s biggest, and longest running platformer
series is back with its third and final chapter, and boy does it go out with a bang.
Jak II ended fantastically,
with the defeat of the metalhead race, and the fall of Baron Praxis. Jak and his
good ol’ furball companion Daxter were on top of the world, but it doesn’t take long for it to all come crashing
Jak III begins very
cinematically with an opening cut-scene setting up the game nicely. Jak thought
he destroyed the last of the Metalheads, but he actually just took out the smallest concentrated group of the race, now the
strongest still hold strong and are now terrorizing the city. “The town’s
a battlefield Jak!” screams Torn, as he looks down on the city from a high tower. It
is now an all out war between the Krimzon Guard, Metalheads, and Errol’s (Jak’s past nemesis) army of vicious
robots. “The city’s in panic…their blaming you Jak,” these
words echo through your head, as you look upon the war-torn streets. Haven City
believes that since Jak had connections with Krew A.K.A. the leader of the Metalheads, that he helped the biggest and strongest
Metalheads enter the city. The people of Haven City are now framing the same man
that saved them from danger. BAAAAAANNNNNG! Three rockets plow through the tower
that Jak stands on, it begins to teeter, and starts to fall. Samos guides a Hover-ship
next to you as the two heroes, and Torn jump on just before the tower falls to the ground and has a fantastic explosion. This is what you are greeted by at the beginning of Jak III, and if that doesn’t
get you into the game, nothing will.
The City’s government
led by Count Vegar has banished you to the Wastelands, a baron, desert where only the toughest prevail. You are then greeted by a small group of Wastelanders, a group of outcasts, also banished to the desert
to see their doom. This group of outlanders is led by Damas, the man that’s
tall in stature, yet short in the hair compartment. He takes you in to his colony and
show’s you the ropes, and soon you’re on your way to finally solving the many questions still left unturned from
the two previous installments. Who are the precursors? What will become of Daxter? Who is the mysterious warrior Mar? These are all questions that have been plaguing fans of the series since the beginning,
and I promise you by the end of the game all of these questions are answered, and the outcome will put a smile on your face.
The long running Jak and
Daxter series has always been known for it’s precise and tight controls. This
is most apparent in this iteration of the series. Not only is the platforming (or lack
there of) very precise, but also Jak has gained some new Eco powers this time around and some of them require flawless button
taps. This new Eco power is in the form of Light Eco. In Jak II, you
could transform into Dark Jak, while that is also present in Jak III, you can also turn into Light Jak. In this form
Jak has illuminates a light blue color, and is sort of like an angel, which is fitting due to the fact that Dark Jak is rather
devilish. While in this light form you can generate a protective shield barrier,
slow everything around you to complete some tricky puzzles, regenerate health, and even sprout widespread wings and fly.
The weapons from Jak II
all make their glorious comeback, but know they can pack even more heat. Mods
are the new black, and they are plentiful, four for each weapon to be exact. Your somewhat
mediocre Scattergun, when upgraded accordingly, can fire explosive projectiles at the swarming hordes of enemies. The Mods are a nice touch and give some good variety to your slaying needs.
Vehicular transportation was
a great addition to Jak II; vehicles make a comeback in this iteration, and are more abundant and useful then ever. Dune Buggy’s play an enormous role in the early levels set in the Wastelands. You’ll start off racing a small almost go-kart sized Buggy, but you’ll soon
be driving a machine-gun toting Sand Thrasher going around firing at massive Metalheads. It’s
a nice touch, but at the beginning of the game, they seem to put too much Buggy gameplay in the game, but it’s still
a nice addition that makes the game even more fun to play.
Mission variety is key to
keep a game fresh and entertaining, Jak III never lets up and never drags on, the missions are a blast to play, and
will build in intensity as you reach the climax of the game. You’ll never
do the same thing twice in this game, whether it’s guiding leapers into a cage, or firing at oncoming missiles. One minute you’ll be wading in the sewers destroying Errol’s robot minions,
and the next you’ll be soaring high over the Wastelands on a Hang-glider. My
wish has finally been granted with several Daxter missions. The first game had
no missions, Jak II had a couple, but they were nothing more than run away from the big Metalhead, in Jak III you
play several sections as Daxter you’ll climb, jump across ledges, pull levers and even smack apposing foes with your
tail of mass destruction. It’s obvious that the folks down at Naughty Dog
know what they’re doing.
In the eye of the beholder,
Jak III doesn’t look a whole lot different than Jak II did, but that’s really not a bad thing. The character animations still go above and beyond the call of duty, and the storyline
is broken up into many cut-scenes that never take you out of the experience, only enhance it.
Easily the best looking aspect
of the game is the outward desert on the outskirts of the Wastelands. Sand will pick up, sand will kick up at your wheels,
and the bullets will pierce the surface so well you’d swear you were in the middle of it. It’s the small nice touches like the water sticking on the screen while it’s raining, or dust
picking up at Jak’s heels, that really separate it from the rest of the pack.
Bullets will fly, Metalheads
will be jarred, and cars will smash in this epic adventure, but if it weren’t for the amazing visuals that are present
in the game, you wouldn’t be captivated like you will be once you play this game.
Ah, sound without it we would
be hopeless. We couldn’t hear our favorite shows, listen to our favorite
music, or hear the constant nagging of our girlfriends when they try to get us to do something other than play a game (wait
a minute, I don’t want to hear that). I nagged on Jak II for sounding
too much like the original, and I can now say that I was wrong. Even though the sounds are similar still, there are just a
wider variety of noises. The various Leaper Lizards you encounter while in the Outcast
city will chirp, hoot and make odd noises when you slam it’s head into innocent by standards on the road. You’ll also hear a multitude of different explosions, gunshots, and most importantly dialogue. Jak II had a wide variety of characters, but all of those characters are only
a small square on the wide quilt of Jak III characters. Of course almost
all your favorite from Jak II make their re-appearances, such as Samos, Torn, Pecker, Sig, and the Ottsel we love
to hate, Daxter. New characters flutter the world of Jak with such ease and beauty
you’d swear you’re watching an epic film. New characters such as Damus,
Seem, Jinx, and Kleever all play important roles in the game, and you’ll get a quick clue of that from their lines of
dialogue. While Seem, will look into your future and speak in a watered down voice,
Jinx has a snitch-like voice while he loads up cargo cars with loads of explosives. Jak
again takes up his role of a main speaker with more lines of dialogue then ever.
Jak II was long,
hard, and full of se….crets. While Jak III doesn’t stray
to far away from that path, it is easy to spot the one big flaw of the game, but then again it’s not so much a flaw
as it is a blemish. Jak II was a long game, taking about 15-17 hours to beat,
Jak III takes about 10-12. While it is a minor setback, the gripping
storyline is enough to keep you from becoming attracted to this flaw. When it’s all done and over you will be sad. Why? Because it’s been a great series
and it’s finally coming to a close. I never thought I’d be on the
verge of tears from a platformer, but I was. It’s a great conclusion to a great
series, and it will be sad if we never see our two heroes ever again.
The Jak and Daxter
series has not only been a great adventure for a platformer, but for gaming in general. The
way the series has evolved from a pure platformer to an extravagant Action/Platformer is truly a sight to behold. It’s been a near and dear series to myself and many other fans along the way, and this game being the last
installment isn’t an easy thing to let go of. It will make you laugh, it
will make you cry, and it will surely make you glad you bought this game.