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December 15, 2004
Jak 3 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
2/12/2004SonyNaughty Dog1G8+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
1061KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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Jak gets his gun off!
During the 1990's one developer which really came to prominence was Naughty Dog, the team behind the monster hit Crash Bandicoot series of games. When the Playstation 2 came out the developer shocked everyone by selling off that character and starting afresh with Jak & Daxter, two very lovable, but unknown characters. Arguably this series is even bigger and better pushing Sony's console to the limits yet again. Jak 3 is the third game in the series, and wraps up the trilogy with Naughty Dog founder Jason Rubin leaving the company at the completion of this title. The story for Jak 3 is as follows;

One year has passed since Jak and Daxter saved Haven City from Kor and the attacking Metal Heads, yet Haven City is still immersed in deadly chaos as three groups fight for control of the streets. The people of Haven City have grown to distrust Jak's dark powers, and as rumors boil of Jak's ties with Krew and Kor, the city blames Jak for its current woeful circumstances. When the palace is destroyed by a surprise Metal Head attack, even Ashelin cannot protect Jak as the High Council's power broker, Count Veger, forces Jak into banishment for life to the desolate Wasteland. Upon Jak being flown to the harsh island and dropped off to fend for himself, he discovers that Daxter and Pecker have discreetly followed him to his proclaimed lifetime of hell. With Daxter and Pecker bravely by his side, the three begin their next adventure as they wander the Wasteland and along the way encounter perilous situations, violent battles and devastating consequences.

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Spectacular lighting...
Gameplay in Jak 3 has once again shifted further away from the platform stylings of the original Jak & Daxter to become even more action and driving oriented then that in last years Jak II: Renegade. This isn't a bad thing as the game is a lot quicker paced, and with the vehicles such as dune buggy, offers a wider variety of gameplay styles to keep you entertained. Fortunately Naughty Dog have remedied the pacing and difficulty level for Jak 3. The previous game was plagued with the mediocrity of having travel around Haven City on a hovercraft for an eternity to get between missions. Thankfully this has mostly been eradicated in this title by way of smaller missions to complete between lengthy treks between larger missions. Even when you return to Haven City part way through the game it's a very different place as the Metal Heads have caused much desstruction, but it's actually nice to return for a period of time.

Once again the game includes both a Light Jak who can fly, freeze time, heal or shield himself from enemies as well as a Dark Jak who is equipped with melee attacks and distant attacks. Jak 3 includes twelve guns and four melee attacks with responsive and tight controls throughout the game.

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Stunning character design.
Despite its greatness there are few issues with this title. The first is that while the difficulty is leveled out, the game still isn't easy. I died many, many times before completing this title but it's one of those games which always calls to you; "one more go, just one more go". Another gripe is that even with the difficulty so high the game can be completed in under 15 hours or so. It may be short but keep in mind this is a quality ride from start to finish, and I would much rather that then 30 hours of mediocrity any day. Another disappointment is the lack of any online, or even split-screen, multi-player modes. While Insomniac has incorporated online gameplay into Ratchet & Clank 3 there is no such luck for Jak 3 players.

As expected the graphics in this title certainly don't disappoint. I would have to say that this game surpasses almost every single XBox and Gamecube title which I have seen, with only a couple of exceptions. It's that good. In previous reviews I made mention of Disney-quality cut scenes and humour and there is certainly no disappointments yet again. The animation and storyboarding of these cut scenes are simply stunning.

Fortunately the in-game graphics and level design are equally amazing. The draw distance is seemingly limitless and everything has a wonderful cartoony feel to it. What really stands out, however, is the animation on both the playable characters, and non-playable characters in the game world. You have never seen smooth like this before, everything is as close to perfect as possible. The lighting and particle effects also deserve special mention as they surpass even the previous title. Dare I say it, but we won't be seeing PS2 titles surpass this one graphically in the near future if ever.

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What the hell...
Aurally this game isn't a letdown either. The biggest asset which this game has is the voice-acting which is simply stunning. Once again the voice-work is second to none, and certainly up there with any Disney movie. The sound effects are impressive with a wide range of gunshots and explosions. The one aspect of this title which disappoints ever so slightly is the music which seems a little more restrained then past titles, or am I just forgetting them... Fortunately all this is topped off with Dolby Pro Logic II sound which is wonderfully executed.

This really is a fine conclusion to the Jak & Daxter trilogy. So many titles make you work hard to complete the game with little enjoyment - this isn't one such title. With Jak 3 Naughty Dog have created the near perfect finale to one of the finest action/platform titles ever. Buy it now.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSYet again Naughty Dog are pushing the PS2 to extraordinary limits.
SOUNDThe voice acting is stunning, the music not quite as good as Jak 2.
GAMEPLAYSeems a lot more leveled then the previous game, thankfully.
VALUEA slightly bigger game with more secrets would have been nice.
OVERALLJak 3 is the perfect way to wrap up the series. The only gripe I really have with the title is that it doesn't push the series anywhere new. Having said that, this is one of the greatest titles on PS2, and along with the prequels, must be in every PS2 owners collection.

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