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December 19, 2003
Jak II: Renegade - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
14/10/2003SonyNaughty Dog1G8+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesYesNoneYes

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Running from enemy gunfire.
When Naughty Dog released Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy two years ago now the game was easily the best platformer on the market, and some would argue the best platform game ever, and that includes Mario 64. In the last two years the only platform games to come close to the quality of Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy are Insomniac's Ratchet and Clank and UbiSoft's recent Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Jak II: Renegade has been in development since 2001, but rather then a couple of new levels and enemies the developers have made several major changes to the gameplay. The storyline has also been beefed up considerably.

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One of the infiltration missions.
The legendary duo have returned in Jak II: Renegade. While Jak has grown into a mature young hero with a cynical attitude and hardened edge Daxter is the same lovable, annoying ermm... creature. Following the finale of Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak and Daxter investigate a strange energy portal that propels them 500 years into the future where they find themselves in a foreign city. The city, under siege and ruled by the tyrannical Baron Praxis, is surrounded by a dark wasteland on the brink of destruction with menacing Metal Heads destroying the land.

Upon arriving in the city, Jak is immediately captured by the Baron's guards and thrown into prison where he is experimented on with Dark Eco, where even he doesnít realise the full extent of the hazardous substance. But with Daxter assisting in Jak's prison escape, the two begin their quest to find out where they are, what has happened and ultimately seek revenge on the Baron. Along the way, Jak and Daxter will encounter numerous diverse characters greatly impacting the adventure they face ahead, while they brace themselves for the foes lurking within the shadows of the city.

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Coming 2nd in a race.
As expected this game is primarily a platform styled with Jak and Daxter having a similar range of attacks as the first game. What wasn't expected however were the racing sections of the game, and the ability to hijack vehicles for transport. The levels are littered with non playable characters, but many of them will have transport which you can hijack and use to get one one point to another much quicker then if you were to run. The game really has moved into a much more open Grand Theft Auto: Vice City style of game, albeit with the violence replaced with cuter characters and a terrific sense of humour.

Another of the big changes which this game has undergone is the inclusion of four new weapons (such as a shotgun) which can be used to take out the enemies from a distance. Some may argue that it takes away the purity of the platform game; I disagree. This adds another dimension to the game and provides more variety. Another major change is the way in which Jak can now transform himself into an evil version of himself (thanks to the dark eco) to defeat the enemies with ease, and some special movies. Finally, Jak II: Renegade now provides Jak (and Daxter) with a hoverboard to ride around the city, although it is a little on the sluggish side.

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Damn... almost surrounded.
Despite it's brilliance, this game isn't perfect. In fact, there are a couple of things which mean this game gets a lower score then the original. The first thing is the difficulty level which for some sections seems way too tough. Early in the game you have to travel from one side of the city to the other on a small hovercraft in 3 minutes flat. Even if you know the path it's a tough ask as your hovercraft slows down dramatically or explodes with any single decent collision. The situation isn't helped with a rotating map in the top right corner of the screen which can disorientates you by rotating as you move, and not showing enough of the map to be useful. Certainly this difficulty level is not one that young children could overcome. Although the developers have increased the size of the game world it simply means locations of importance are spread out more with the majority of buildings not able to be entered or explored. Running, or driving, from one location to the next can become very tiresome after a while.

The original game was a graphical tour de force, but the developers have managed to squeeze even more power out of the system and improved the looks even more. You may not be able to see from screenshots but the two heroes of the game are made up of 15,000 polygons per model, versus 4,000 polygons for the characters in the original Jak & Daxter. While the screenshots are nice, it's the stuff which you can't see which makes the biggest impression, that being the animation on the characters and the detail of the game worlds. Animation is, as with the original game, unrivaled, and even compares to that in many Disney computer generated movies. The cut scenes, and there are over an hour of them in total, look stunning with some tremendous character animation, even down to the smallest smirk on Daxter's face or a hand gesture by a character. The actual game world itself is about three times the size of the previous game while the developers have included 15 areas outside the city walls to explore. The texturing is nice enough while the frame rate maintains a fairly solid 60fps, even with multiple enemies and explosions on screeen at once.

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Some of the stunning graphics.
Sound has always been something which Naughty Dog have prided themselves on, even since the first Crash Bandicoot on PSOne and this game is no exception. With support for Dolby Pro Logic II the only way this could sound any better is with DTS sound. Of particular note is the stunning speech which is easily among the best lines ever recorded and yes, Jak now talks - although he has a bit of an attitude. Sure some people may tire of Daxter's comments with every situation - but I loved them. The humour is so much better then the previous title.

As you can probably tell Jak II: Renegade is simply stunning (if you can't tell you probably didn't go past the first line of the review). Everything gels together perfectly with superb graphics and sound and most importantly, engrossing gameplay. Youngsters will certainly struggle with the difficulty level in places, but more seasoned gamers should absolutely love this game. I certainly did.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSThe best just got better. Stunning animation, textures and detail.
SOUNDPossibly the best voice acting ever in a game, great music and effects.
GAMEPLAYA good mix of game styles, but also quite a high difficulty level.
VALUECertainly bigger then the first game, but you'll repeat more stuff.
OVERALLJak II: Renegade is everything fans were hoping it would be. The game certainly is fairly hard, so young children may become annoyed pretty quickly, but with a darker slant it's probably not aimed at kids anyway. Overall this game is stunning.

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