Jak 3 – Retro Review

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Released in 2004, Jak 3 was the crowning jewel in a tremendously successful series from Naughty Dog. Evolving yet again from the previous games, the third installment in the Jak and Daxter series really brings everything to the table and pushes the PS2 to its limits.

One of my favourite additions to Jak 3 was the remarkably fun dune buggies which are used to travel around the desert wasteland outside Haven City.The Wasteland is an immensely huge open world area which was extremely fun to just drive around in. There is a good amount of variety in the vehicles, each one felt unique to drive and they all had their pros and cons.

Populating the Wasteland with infinitely spawning Marauder Buggies was a great way to ensure the driving from mission to mission was never dull. As a kid I spent hours upon hours racing from one end of the desert to the other, and when I replayed the HD Collection two years ago I found myself doing the exact same thing.

Buggy_driving_in_the_desert

The dune buggies are tremendously fun to drive

 

The story again evolves and expands to new levels not seen before in the series. Although the story does not change as dramatically as it did from Jak and Daxter to Jak II, it still moves forward in a natural way and explores deeper themes that the previous games.

With the introduction of the Wastelander civilization, we really get to see a different side to the world that Naughty Dog has built. During Jak II you spent most of the time inside the walls of Haven City, with the occasional mission being set just outside the walls. This time the world is expanded even further, giving you the freedom to explore a vast desert and a new city.

From a strictly storytelling perspective, Jak 3 has the biggest plot revelations in the series. I won’t spoil anything here for those of you who for some reason haven’t played it, but in the late game especially there are several huge plot points which you won’t see coming.

Spargus

Spargus City is a new area to explore, and used as your base when travelling the Wasteland

 

Once you finally make it back to Haven City, you find it torn apart by the war happening within its walls. The three factions are in constant battle as you make your way through the city, a very cool addition to the setting which makes the world feel extremely alive.

As you explore more of Haven City, you will find several areas from Jak II which have been radically altered as a result of the fighting. Again, these changes really make you feel like you are a part of the world, seeing the familiar places in a new way was a great way to change the setting up between games.

The gun mechanics from Jak II are improved, each of the four guns you get in that game have another two weapons which are similar to the originals. Each gun feels very different and having such a wide variety gives the player a good amount of choice as to how they approach the game. Being able to quickly switch between any of the 12 guns makes combat fast and exciting.

Gun

One of the 12 unique guns you collect throughout the game

 

An entirely new mechanic which was added in this third instalment of the series are the light powers Jak gains throughout the story to balance his the darkness inside him. As opposed to the destructive and offensively aimed dark powers, the light powers are aimed more towards defence and mobility.

The Light Flight and Flash Freeze abilities open up the levels and allow the player to explore places they couldn’t reach before. The Light Regeneration and Light Shield powers are designed to be used during combat, giving the player yet another way of tackling missions.

Light_Jak_with_Wings.

Light Jak adds a variety of new powers and combat tactics to consider

 

The Dark Eco version of Jak also gains several new abilities from the previous game. While the combat attacks of Dark Jak remains more or less the same, powers such as Dark Invisibility and Dark Strike (the latter of which can also be used in combat) are used to progress further in levels otherwise locked off.

With all of the new guns in Jak 3, the player probably won’t have to rely of using Dark Jak as often, although giving players that option is always a good thing.

Dark_Jak_in_Spargus_Arena

New Dark Jak abilities give players more choices of how to approach combat

Jak 3 builds on the solid foundations of the first two games, expanding every aspect of the game into this wonderful experience. While Jak II was an amazing game in its own right, this game is takes everything it’s predecessor did and┬átakes the series to a new level.

Pythagean

Pythagean

Head Designer at The Video Game Forum

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Summary

Jak 3 offers something for everyone: free roaming car-jacking, a multitude of guns, improved melee mechanics using expanded dark Jak and new light Jak, desert racing, hoverboarding as well as a compelling story with interesting characters.

Long after I had completed all of the missions and side quests, I found myself coming back to this game again and again. The world is so masterfully designed by Naughty Dog and everything in this game is fun and addictive.

5