"One of the bestPS2 games of 2003"
Naughty Dog are one of the most successful developers to emerge in the past ten years. Beginning with Crash Bandicoot, they have created some fantastic, addictive platformers and the sequel to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is no different.
The storyline behind Jak 2 is a little cliche but works quite well. The story begins with our two heroes preparing to fire up a warp gate. Once open this unleashes monsters into the world, but not only this, drags all four of the characters into an alternate universe. Jak is subsequently captured by Baron Praxis and imprisoned and tortured until Daxter finally manages to rescue him two years later. From then on Jak wants revenge and he will do anything to achieve it. As the story wears on he meets up with various characters who to want to take down Baron Praxis. This is because he is selling Eco to the metalheads who are threatening to invade the city.
Jak 2: Renegade is a platform game however the word platform must be used very lightly as for most of the game its not. You play as Jak again and at first the game will seem like the typical platformer. Jump here, hit enemy here and move on to reach the end of the level. It's not until you escape into the main city that you realise just how significantly different Jak 2: Renegade is to other platform games on the market. The game is more a third person action/adventure game then a traditional platform game.
The city is the main hub for the storyline. Between missions you can do what you please but certain areas will only be unlocked once characters give you an access key. The city is scattered with contacts, the first being Torn in the underground and to prove yourself to these characters they will set you missions to complete. This is where the platforming element of Jak 2: Renegade comes into play. The tasks that Jak needs to perform are usually situated outside the city hub itself in places such as the Baron Praxis' castle, an electricity station and others. The doors to these places are located around the city which you must find.
Missions can include stealing a flag, rescuing another character from the underground, turning water back on and so on. Some missions will take place inside the city and include having to pick up objects in a certain amount of time. Most of the early missions are quite easy to complete but not far into the game the difficulty ramps up significantly and Jak will have to use all his brawn and skill to progress further.
Jak has numerous ways he can defeat enemies. He can spin much the same as Crash from the Crash Bandicoot games, throw Daxter to hit enemies like a whip, jump up and crash down to break open vents and others. However during the game Jak will acquire a weapon and completing missions will upgrade this weapon for instance adding a scope or increasing the rate of fire. Jak also has some magical powers which have been experimented on him during his prison stay. These powers make Jak pulse with electricity and can bring down numerous enemies in a quick fashion. To be able to use these powers, Jak needs to collect purple stones littered about the place.
Jak will encounter a variety of enemies ranging from chameleon-like animals through to metal heads and others. Obviously once the gun is given to Jak the enemies do increase in difficulty and sometimes with the single shot gun it can be hard to aim when moving at speed. The AI is fairly accomplished but really are part and parcel of the platform game. They won't hide they will just charge towards and shoot trying to defeat you. The challenge from the game at times comes from trying to find your objective rather then the enemies themselves. Although it definitely is a case of power in numbers.
As mentioned before Jak 2 is set in a huge city hub. The city is gigantic and is a technical feat for the PS2 console. The draw distance is great and there isn't much pop up to speak of. The city is divided into different sections such as the slums, coastal area and what seems to be an industrial-type area. To get around such a large city you have two options, walk or use a hoverbike. The hoverbikes are something you would typically see in a Jetsons cartoon. They can travel at two different altitudes and make city travel so much easier. Traffic jams are the norm though, and avoiding them by flying lower can get Baron Praxis' soldiers after you.
Other environments are heavily detailed and also feature the long draw distances. One thing that is astonishing with Jak 2 is there is no load times at all. Walk into the door to say the water pumping station and all of a sudden its there, right in front of you. It is because of this fact that Jak 2: Renegade can be such an addictive game, hours may slip by and feel like minutes. Environments can't be destroyed and you will have to use all Jaks special moves to be able to get through each one. It is likely you will visit each environment outside the city more then once.
Graphically Jak 2 is a visual feast. Both Jak and Daxter animate superbly together and animations change depending on whether Jak is carrying a weapon or not. The environments are crisply detailed and the city hub is huge. It definitely is one of the most technically impressive games released for the Playstation 2 console so far. Sound is also quite good with Daxter whipping out one liners to get you laughing and a cinematic soundtrack.
Jak 2: Renegade is easily one of the best games released for the Playstation 2 in 2003. Naughty Dog have really pushed the Playstation 2 console with this game and if you like platform games and own a PS2 then Jak 2: Renegade should be in your games collection.
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