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Classic game appreciation section: Jak II: Renegade

Jak of all trades

The geography of the game is all well and good, but Jak II also had a blend of rewarding exploration and satisfying action that kept me coming back. Jak was nimble enough to scale objects, find hidden collectibles that unlocked all manner of goodies and jump like a hyperactive rabbit. Okay, he never had Mario’s ‘tache, but he had a goatee, which was almost as good. 

Above: Thankfully, this never happened

On top of all that, he was a pretty decent fighter as well; being able to scrap with his fists, call upon his morph gun or when things got really desperate, morph into Dark Jak, whose feral attacks were the requisite eye candy for the combat. It truly was something for all the family… but in my family, mainly just for me.

The mixture of gunning and jumping wasn’t entirely new at the time. Ratchet & Clank was more than familiar with most PS2 owners by that point, yet the shooting in Jak was nowhere near as tongue-in-cheek as Ratchet’s, which is why it struck more of a chord with me. When it came to fisticuffs, Jak was suitably well versed in the art of melee. Running just behind a guard and then hitting them was one of my most embarrassing past-times.

There was also the added bonus of Jak not above throwing the old spinning kick manoeuvre at his foes either. Ahem, second most embarrassing past-time. When all these elements come together, the combat packs just the right amount of punch so that it’s enjoyable, without it ever getting to the point where the exploration suffered for it. I had only just started to properly get into games as a hobby, so the relative ease of the combat certainly worked the magic on me.

Although it would be fair to say some of the elements were recycled, but after twenty hours into Haven City’s tale of corruption and redemption, you’ll be hard pressed to care how it all works. In fact, well after the story had been polished off, I would spend time doing nothing but running around Haven City and riding the lake of Haven Forest, like the easily pleased pre-teen that I was.

Uncharted Territory

It physically hurts that the last entry in the series, which was put out to pasture on the PSP and PS2 back in 2009, never made it to PS3. It’s almost criminal that the series hasn’t been given the same amount of love from Sony in the HD era as its other mascots. Hell, even Sly has had an HD collection and a sequel on the way. The thought of a HD Jak & Daxter game already has my knees wobbling, not that Jak needs the shiny HD process to get me playing again.

Above: After all, that Pixar-quality animation is still utterly stupendous

At the heart of Jak II is everything that a truly exceptional game should have: an engaging story, quality level design and rewarding gameplay. Jak II took all of this and crafted a truly daring game, that took a risk on it’s audience that paid off incredibly well. The series may be MIA for the time being, but there’s always that other franchise Naughty Dog craft to keep us occupied.

25 Aug 2011

Written by Ben Tyrer, with us on work experience from Bournemouth University, UK

48 comments

  • JamesRadar - January 13, 2012 7:18 p.m.

    This game gives me that "Blade Runner" feeling. So much fun and and good memories to boot.
  • Henrys5002 - August 28, 2011 3:32 p.m.

    Your appreciation section is unique and thoughtful, but you're beginning to add games that AREN'T true classics. My first disagreement was with doom3, a game which had no 5 star rating in any review. Yes, I'm sorry, but it's NOT a classic. The second disagreement is now jak2. It's a good game, but NOT a classic. How could jak2 be in this section without mario64, the definition of 3d platforming? The second I saw these games I knew they didn't belong here. I'm happy I've been able to rend my opinion across as I really love this section. It's actually the reason I joined in. Just don't let it lose its way. Remember: REAL classics. Bye for now.
  • Yeager1122 - August 26, 2011 10:27 p.m.

    I absolutley love Jak 2 one of my favorites games always replay it at leat once every year or so.
  • Markstone - August 26, 2011 4:22 p.m.

    Loved this game, probably my favorite PS2 game besides Star Wars Battlefront. Maybe they'll make a new one after uncharted 3? PLEASE Naughty Dog, make it happen!!!!!
  • 08rpotter01 - August 26, 2011 1:26 p.m.

    Man alive Ben!! I remember playing the first jak and daxter when I rented it from blockbuster about a million years ago. I don't recall anything from it, and haven't played any of the games since, but your review makes me wanna buy them all, lock myself in my room, and play them until I die.
  • MeanwhileGuy - August 26, 2011 2:44 a.m.

    Ah, I remember my 14 year old self being hopelessly addicted to this game. Everything about it is just fantastic, bar some questionable difficulty spikes (as JJBSterling said THAT @#**ING DOCK ESCAPE). And Ben, I completely agree, that Naughty Dog has done nothing with the franchise since Jak 3 apart from a couple of racing and PSP games is simply criminal. Like any other PS3 owner, I love Nathan Drake and the Uncharted games, but it's time to bring Jak back, and show the other platformers like Ratchet and Sly how it's done.
  • yareet - August 25, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    Go bournemouth! I do wonder Ben if you have met Gordon the tramp; our local hero. This is an 80 year old tramp wannabe who can tell the time by just looking at the sky if anybody was curious. Back on the note of Jak 2 though. Easily one of the best platformers on PS2.
  • Ben Tyrer - August 25, 2011 11:27 p.m.

    Not yet, but I've still got another two years to bump into him, I'll keep an eye out for anyone gazing at the sky for too long!
  • SumthingStupid - August 25, 2011 5:14 p.m.

    Jak and Daxter is my favourite series ever, i wish they could make a ps3 jak and dax, like jak 4 or something, and a hd collection would be sweet too, i wish i never got rid of my ps2 :(
  • VagueRaconteur - August 25, 2011 4:13 p.m.

    Ahh nostalgia... I played all of the Jak games, and got to the 3rd to last level on every one. No idea why I never finished. Mfw spoiler alert: o.O'
  • kingsmikefan - August 25, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    Jak II is my favorite game of all time. It was the first time a game really shook me. Thank you for this.
  • gilgamesh310 - August 25, 2011 2:25 p.m.

    Jak 2 still stanndsas the best Naughty Dog game. I don't think Uncharted has anything on it. At least not in terms of gameplay.
  • FanofSaiyan - August 25, 2011 1:47 p.m.

    I really wish somebody would develop a true PS3 Jak & Daxter game...
  • JJBSterling - August 25, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    One of my favorite games of all time. BUT THAT DOCK ESCAPE LEVEL, OH MY GOD.
  • IsaacShadow - August 25, 2011 1:21 p.m.

    Ahhh...I wish I still had my PS2 and this game. This game was amazing.
  • ComradeKhani - August 25, 2011 1:11 p.m.

    Same story for me, I had received this for a birthday though, had never heard of the series. I would really love to see a sequel, it would make me want a PS3. Probably one of my favorite series of all time.
  • Errrrbo - August 25, 2011 12:15 p.m.

    One of my favorite games of all time. Making a sequel like this, where you go from cartoony to dark to this degree, and they pulled it off really well. The writing and story are really good, the gameplay is fantastic, and the graphics are some of the best on the system.
  • Terrorrizor - August 25, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    Jak ll I feel was one of those landmark games, it's transition for Jak and Daxter was like a splash of cold water, everything changed forever. Jak wasn't that little cartoony guy anymore he was a hardened, foul mouthed cartoony guy who could really kick some ass! It takes you where most games could not, and the environment in and of itself is a character! Like the article said, it was so sad bleak and depressing that you wanted to tear down the establishment! All in all, it's a good game with an awesome story that keeps wondering how it will all end, and then when it does end you'll wish it never did end.
  • Terrorrizor - August 25, 2011 11:59 a.m.

    *keeps you wondering
  • MrSuitMan - August 25, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    Thank you. Thank you so much for this. Jak II is one of my most influential games and thank you for recognizing it.

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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