derelict's Jak 3 (PlayStation 2) review

Exciting platformer with lots of action and a variety of missions

I was pleasantly surprised with how much more fun I had with Jak 3 then with it's predecessor. It may of had the same franchise name, familiar characters and locations, and a tied in story line, but when playing, it felt very different and much improved to me. As such, I will be doing a lot of comparison to the second Jak game.

First getting from level to level. I find navigating the city streets in Jak 3 to be so much easier, faster, and less cumbersome than in 2. This is good, because I shouldn't find myself getting bored or stressed just trying to make it to the next level. The leaper creatures you ride in the city of Spargus makes navigating painless and you can easily maneuver around the citizens. Haven city is also far less a headache to traverse as there's almost no traffic or innocent bystanders that you can accidentally over. Oddly enough, having fire-fights occurring all over the city makes it's much quicker to get around.

I also felt like there were more locations to visit for the various missions, although like Jak 2 there's a certain disappointment with the amount of revisiting that is required as the levels progress. Luckily, even though you may have to visit the same locations 4 times over, new areas do open up so that you're not stuck playing the exact same environment over and over again.

The levels themselves are also much more forgiving. I found Jak 2 relentless. Jak 3 seems to have toned down the difficulty level and it offers respectable save points during game-play that don't make you want to scream in horror when you die. There's also lots of mini-challenges to keep the hardcore fans playing as you attempt to collect as many orbs as possible so that you can unlock secrets, upgrades, and simply fun items.

Your missions will vary from your standard platforming missions, to driving, timed, escort, and gun-turrent missions, or a combination of all the above. Most are fun, but a few get a little tiring. There are also much fewer instances where infuriation takes over from shear frustration as was common for me in Jak 2.
The driving in this game does play a big role, and sets up the series nicely for Naughty Dog's Jak X title. I was surprisingly happy with these levels probably because many of them weren't actual races (which I tend to hate in platformer titles). They do add lots of excitement, with lots of conveyances to choose from.

The morph gun makes it's appearance as well, and although the aiming system hasn't improved a lot (still no lock on, still no strafing), your weapons are upgradeable and often offer a firing mode where aiming isn't as necessary to make a hit (at the expense of a little extra ammo).

Dark Jak is also back but this time Jak's alter ego has some company: Light Jak. Dark Jak still brings all the pain, but Light Jak offers tactical advantages such as health replenishment, a temporary shield, slow-motion, and glide/flight capabilities.

Of course Daxter is here, and you even get to play as him a few times, but not so much that the novelty wears off. That's where Daxter's usefulness ends for me. I know he's suppose to be the comic relief in the game, but I just don't find him that funny, and he distracts too much from what's going on in the cut-scenes.

The colour scheme has not improved a lot. As the night approaches in the game the narrow palette of grey, blue, purple, and black make it a little trying on my colour-blind eyes. I do much better when it's daytime in the world of Jak. Despite this, the game does look good and I believe even a little more crisp then 2. While the effects all around were well fashioned, I found the sand storms in the desert particularly impressive.

In the end I can say that I'm glad I own Jak 3, and it was a fun experience that I would recommend to anyone who was looking for some intense action from a modern-day platformer.

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