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Jak III  
Jak and Daxter are back in their best adventure ever.

DoomGames come in many different forms. Some are a joke, and the creators know it: games like Backyard Wrestling or Outlaws Golf do not hide behind a mask of credibility or a facade of substance. And don't take this as criticism of these games, for one has to admire the honesty of the authors, making a game simply to feed the basest emotions we have. I, personally, could play these games for quite a while, but eventually I would want more. For while these games are fun, especially when played in the company of friends, they lack the solid material that a good game is composed of.
There are good games out there that are worth playing; they are well done and rewarding to the gamer that sees it through to the end. But even beyond these games lie the truly memorable games that remain in our memory and in our disc trays. These games could be dubbed "epic," for they usually involve stellar gameplay, a well-developed plot with themes and characters the gamer comes to care about, and a bit of humor amongst other emotions. Such games are renowned and honored by game critics and amateur gamers: they are both art and entertainment.
This is where Jak 3 belongs. Jak 3 is an epic. Jak 3 will not leave your memory, and you will remain fascinated by the crisp and unique style of gameplay Jak has to offer. Having played so many games in my life, it is easy to forget ones that only pleased me for a little while, or ones that were not an all-around knockout. I am happy to say with certainty that Jak 3 will not fade from my mind very quickly. After all, a game that combines top of the line graphics, completes a mysterious saga, and keeps you trying (and smiling) the whole time isn't something that comes around often.

Gameplay : 9.5

Plot
For those of you who haven't played Jak before, the plot will be a little overwhelming, but not enough to deter gameplay or necessitate the playing of the two prequels. The game compensates for the possible unawareness of the gamer and provides a cinematic that does not completely explain the past two games, but gives you a recap of the events that placed Jak and Daxter in their predicament. The movie (which looks fantastic) would be enough for an astute gamer, as a sharp individual can pick up hints from the FMV as to how Jak's world works. Throughout the game, mysteries are explained or solved to those new to the series as well, so eventually everyone gets on the same page.

As for the plot itself, it revolves around the decisions and actions of Jak after being banished from Haven City into the harsh Wasteland because of his foes' political maneuvering. Blamed for instability, Jak and Daxter are thrown out of Haven City and left to die. Luckily, Damus, king of the forgotten city of Spargus, finds Jak and Daxter and takes them in, forcing them to earn respect in the arena. After winning Damus' favor, which takes quote some time a more than a few trips into the desert, the story begins to shift back towards Haven City, a bustling and chaotic metropolis plagued by warring factions. Traveling in the dangerous Wasteland, where you will face all sorts of monsters and other challenges, is a central part of the gameplay. Spargus is relatively tame for a while, at least compared to the wild action in Haven City.

And throughout this wild brouhaha, Jak and Daxter must solve the mysteries of their world: who exactly were the Precursors and what do they have to do with the rumored "end of the world" approaching? The plot is outstanding: amusing at times, ironic at others, and emotional when needed. There are enough twist and turns to keep the gamer guessing until the end, and you really will work up feelings for certain characters. The main villain, Count Vegar, will have you begging for another shot at him by the end of the game, while Damas, who seems merciless and cruel at first, will surprise you with his character later on. Jak remains the serious badass of the bunch while Daxter pops in with witty comments to keep the gamer light-hearted during the most intense moments. However, to those craving closure from the first two games, the game's ending might disappoint. I will not risk giving anything away, but I'll say it is a little weird. Also left unresolved are a few plot lines and story elements, but for the most part the plot delivers strongly in this epic. What does a good video game plot have? Character development, humor, tense and emotional moments, and above all, an excuse to send the gamer into action. You will find copious amounts of these in Jak 3.

Combat
Those who enjoyed the in-your-face third person shooting in Jak 2 will not be disappointed by the improvements made on the system. Each of Jak's four weapons has two upgrades, enough to handle all sorts of baddies. The add-ons are brilliant: rather than just giving the weapon more power or a bigger blast, the fundamental attack of the gun is changed, making the choice of the right one for the job significant. The different modes of fire require varying amounts of ammo, also making efficiency and prudence a factor. The guns are impressive and fun to use: the gamer will enjoy fighting the battles with such equipment.

The battles themselves are hardly uncommon, as a bad guy is usually just waiting to be found. Of course, there are sections of the game where combat is not the point or it isn't present, but much of the game consists of fighting off hordes of critters. The bad guys are rarely a challenge individually, though in large groups they can cause a headache, especially as Jak loses life quickly and doesn't recover very often. The bosses are another story, however, and are a little more challenging. The first few bosses were all about pattern, and while they were a little more difficult, I was disappointed. The tune changed by the end of the game though: the battles and the big guys pack a lot more punch in the final act, presenting a much tougher test. Jak has a fair amount of health, but it vanishes pretty fast when you are in the heat of battle. Upon completing each mission, of course, your health is replenished. After a considerable amount of gameplay though, Jak will get the ability to regenerate some health, making recovery during a mission a little more feasible.

Jak will get many new abilities throughout the course of the game. He has retains his dark eco powers and gains a few new tricks up this alley. Becoming Dark Jak alone is enough to wreck major havoc on your enemies, but the powers add a new level of dominance to Dark Jak. On the other hand, the powers you will receive as Light Jak (the obvious result of doses of Light Eco) have formidable powers as well, though you will probably prefer the murderous rage of Dark Jak. Jak will, among other things, be able to stop time and heal himself. The powers Jak gets really impressed me: I found myself forgetting to use some of them with the vast array of options I was given for combat. What does that say about a game, when you cannot remember to explore all the features presented? Quite a bit.

Other Action
As if Jak and Daxter needed more trouble, there are more tasks for them to tackle than mere fighting. As any good platformer should have, Jak 3 contains hundreds, if not thousands of ledges, floating blocks, steps, and rocks to jump onto, along with other various structures in a massive digital playground. You'll be presented with more than a few uphill climbs, where you will have to navigate your way along paths and upward towards your eventual prize via platforms. Surprisingly, I never got too frustrated by this: I think Naughty Dog has put in just enough jumping to satisfy fans of that genre and present some different challenges to the gamer.

Up another alley, you'll find a few challenges in Jak 3 with vehicles and racing. The Wasteland is yours to explore with 6 different types of vehicles to use, each with their little quirks and abilities that differentiate them. The sand will get in the gears pretty quick: one of the first missions is a race to help you learn the controls while on wheels. Other missions include scavenger hunts and wild shoot-em-ups in the desert or caves you might find while out there. The Wasteland itself is huge, supposedly 5 times the size of Jak II's Haven City. As the vehicles are unlocked you'll be presented with increasingly tougher tasks, such as rounding up animals in the desert or fighting off giant metalheads. Back in Spargus, you can ride lizards to get around quicker while the traditional hovercrafts are available in Haven City. There is even a pipe-ride in the Catacombs in store, a delightful but frustrating treat which requires some skill and patience.

Controls
A game like Jak 3 might be disastrous without carefully plotted controls. Thankfully, the controls are dead-on, offering precision while not being too complicated. Jak's basic actions are governed by the 4 face buttons while his weapon choice is controlled by the D-Pad. The analog stick is, of course, in charge of where Jak roams, while the R and L buttons transform him into Light/Dark Jak and unleash his massive capabilities. All of this planning makes for an incredibly smooth experience with Jak 3.

Even more impressive are the vehicle controls, which would be at home in Vice City just as much as Haven City. While the battles can be frustrating both on wheels and on feet, no one can accuse the game of "cheating" or poor controls: the vehicles and Jak himself are extremely responsive and accurate. Jak 3 should be an example for action games as the buttons seem to be in the right place to assure smooth and entertaining gameplay. Basically, the game is not only worth playing but it is completely possible to do so as well.

Page 2: Graphics, Sound, Replay Value, and Overall Opinion


Scores
Gameplay
9.5
Graphics
9.5
Sound
7.5
Replay Value
8.0
Overall Score
9.0



Developer
Access Games
Publisher
SCEA
Origin
U.S.
Genre
Adventure
Action
Players
1
Peripherals
Dual Shock 2
8MB Memory Card
Release Date
North America
November 9th, 2004
Europe
November 26th, 2004
Sections



Jak has lots of new powers.

Explore deserts, volcanoes, caves, and metropolis in Jak 3.

Characters are nicely detailed.
More screenshots of Jak III



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