It’s Throwback Thursday and what better way to celebrate it than going back to the PS2 again. This week we’ll be looking at Jak II: Renegade, reliving some of the memories that game gave us.
Jak II was actually the first Jak game I’d played, not including a demo of Jak III I’d played the hell out of back in the glory days of demonstration discs from the Official PlayStation 2 magazine.
Jak II: Renegade was the sequel to the original Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, on the PS2. The game was a very good platformer and featured a then silent protagonist, Jak, and his talking animal friend, Daxter. Together they progressed through the game, collecting items and defeating various bosses with skills and the use of an energy called “Eco.”
The game was received very well so it’s only natural that a sequel came along to carry on the story.
Jak II took a very different tone from the original. Jak was no longer a silent protagonist and was full of more angst than Anakin Skywalker during the initial few missions. Of course he had good reason to be.
Let’s go into the story first of all. Jak II takes place some time after the original game. The team of Jak, Daxter, Samos and Keira are blasted forward in time to a place called “Haven City”, run by a maniac known as The Baron.
Immediately Jak is captured the the game skips ahead two years, showing Jak strapped to a table and being experimented on with the “Dark Eco” energy source similar to the first game. Eventually Daxter shows up to rescue him and Jak’s first line of dialogue is “I’m gonna kill Praxus.” referring to the Baron.
So Jak is understandably annoyed. It only gets worse when they find out that he turns into a form known as “Dark Jak” a more beastly version of himself with insane strength and power, a result of the Dark Eco treatments he’d been receiving.
As they bust out of the prison Jak was being held in they’re introduced to the Krimzon guards, the protectors of Haven City under the rule of Baron Praxus.
It’s from here you can see the changes that had been made to the gameplay.
Jak is now able to roam around Haven City in a sandbox style, taking on missions from various characters as and when he sees fit and in whatever order he feels. It takes a GTA sandbox style to it with Jak being able to commandeer vehicles to roam around the city to make travel faster.
Jak is still able to engage in melee combat but he now sports a new “morph gun” with various add ons including the scatter gun, blaster mod, vulcan and peace maker. Each of these give Jak increased versatility in combat and sets the tone for this darker sequel.
The comic relief is still present with Daxter getting some pretty funny one liners in and Jak’s character, despite being as edgy as a steak knife, has some good moments too.
The game sees a return of the Metal Heads, the foes from the last game. They still present a huge threat to the citizens of Haven City as the game shows the city was once much bigger, but parts had fallen to the relentless Metal Head menace. Baron Praxus now commands the city’s armies against the hordes and seems to be having a hard time winning this fight. The Baron begins searching for a means to bring the war to the end by using the Precursors, the focus of the last game. Their relics supposedly hold the key defeating the Metal Heads.
Jak is still not alone in this game. Daxter accompanies him wherever he goes and he’s rejoined by Samos the Sage. We also have a host of underground resistance fighters who give Jak tasks to do and some rather shady looking individuals you’re not really sure if you should trust at all. The GTA comparison was quite obvious to me and, during my younger years, this served as a GTA replacement until I was snuck a copy of GTA San Andreas for my birthday.
Still Haven City provided a lot of opportunities for fun. One of my favourite parts included an invasion of the city by Metal Heads meaning the streets were filled with civillians, guards and Metal Heads all attacking one another. It was chaos and it was glorious.
Dark Jak was another interesting addition to the game. When Jak collected enough Dark Eco he was able to initiate a Dark Jak transformation. This made him fight exclusively with melee but also made his attacks far stronger. Dark Jak is the focus of the upgrades this time too. Whereas Jak normally gets weaponry upgrades it’s Dark Jak who gets the crazy powers. With insane strength, abilities like the screen clearing Dark Bomb move and the potential for invulnerability while in that form, Dark Jak made the fight against the Baron and the Metal Heads much easier when activated.
Despite the changes to gameplay though Jak II remained a platformer at heart. It was enjoyable to leap bounds across the platforms, reach the hidden secrets and objectives or just to run around the city terrorizing people. It added new aspects without altering the old ones all that much.
Jak II holds many great memories of a pre-GTA gamer wanting desperately to play the games that gave off so much controversy. But Jak was it’s own game, it continued a great story and kept me entertained with it’s great characters, gripping narrative and amazing gameplay.
Did you have a good time on Jak II? Did you like the changes? Let us know in the comments below.