Developer: Naughty Dog/Mass Media
Release Date: 6/18/2013
Also Available On
This review has actually been a long time coming. I never really liked or got into Jak and Daxter. I gave Jak II a shot back when I was about 13 and for some reason liked it, but I also remember being extremely frustrated and hating it too. The game was a complete redesign of the series. Gone is the aimless platforming and collect-a-thon stuff. Here we have an open-world GTA: Vice City clone with attitude. Jak II received a lot of criticism for steering away from the cheery tone of the first game. Jak now talks but has a bad attitude, he shoots guns, and the game has more spunk and adult content. It was a great step for the series but it created more problems than the first game had.
The first thing is the crappy open world. I can’t tell you how tedious and frustrating it is to move around in this damn city. It’s a maze for one with tight linear areas to move around and the vehicles controlled like complete garbage. You bump into everything as you’re driving around, and if the game itself isn’t hard enough I died multiple times just trying to get to a mission. I have never seen such a poorly built open city before, this takes the cake. If the vehicles aren’t enough the difficulty of the game is by far way up there with the hardest. I guarantee 95% of players will quit before they even get 5 missions in. You will die time and time again, but not only because it’s just hard. The game is just poorly designed.
Take into account no lock-on for aiming whatsoever. You’re left with poor auto-aim which doesn’t work half the time. Add on glitches, sloppy platforming, and a crappy hoverboard and you have a craptastic game. Now that’s not to say Jak II didn’t have potential. It has an AAA budget written all over it. Excellent voice acting, great graphics, the works. It just seems the development team wasn’t up to speed on how smooth a game needs to play.
Even with the poor gameplay elements aside the game seems like it wasn’t playtested. Some areas are so difficult to get through, this usually includes the mass amounts of enemies you have to shoot, that you literally need to rely on luck that the AI will miss more than hit just so you can pass on. But the one ultimate reason that this game cannot be forgiven is the lack of checkpoints. I don’t just mean there’s one or two poorly placed. I mean there are none; zero. You will get halfway through a mission and die and restart over and over again at the beginning. This is just absurd and completely unfair. If the game had fair checkpoints I could overlook everything else, but that one major issue nearly ruins the game.
I also don’t like how long this game is. With the difficulty and poor mechanics in place you just want it to end. Be it the hair-tearing racing missions, hoverboard missions, or the nearly unbeatable timed missions. I don’t think I can remember a game harder than maybe Demons’ Souls, but that game was at least understandable as to why it was hard. It was meant to be that way. Jak II is not.
I really wanted to love this game but I just can’t. Even with the somewhat interesting Saturday morning cartoon-type story I just hated this game. I will never play it again and wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to sit through this. Jak II has a great AAA feel, but a low-budget bargain bin gameplay aesthetic. The game also looks good on the Vita, but like Jak and Daxter, the frame rate drops to single digits quite often and chugs. Either the game is pushing the Vita too hard or it’s just poorly optimized. Even without that issue, the game is just terrible.