The third game in the Jak and Daxter series was developed by Naughty Dog Studios and published by Sony in November of 2004. It is rated T.

The plots of these games have always been excessively silly and cliched, to the point where they delve so far into the relm of tired and used up video game plots that they emerge on the other side as enjoyable and quirky games. Sometime between Jak II and this game, Haven City (the setting of the second game) was the site of a great battle, in which much of the city was destroyed. The people ended up blaming poor ol' Jak for their troubles, and so they exile him to the great wasteland. (Seems like there's always a great wasteland handy.) Being followed by his buddy Daxter (of course), he is saved (of course) by a tribe that is barely scraping an existence out (who else?) in the middle of this vast and unforgiving land. (What other kind of land could it possibly it be?) There are a variety of monsters and ne'er do wells lurking about in the wasteland (you need someone to shoot, after all) and also a number of tasks that need doing by the people of this village. (What kind of village doesn't have tasks that need doing by a some random hero passing by? Not a very good one, I tell you what.) There is also a prophecy somewhere in there, because it is impossible for a video game not to contain a prophecy.

Oh, and you end up saving the world (again), but that's sort of assumed, isn't it?

In the grand tradition of video game sequels, Jak 3 takes the feature set of Jak II and just adds more. Jak's ability to morph into a fearsome Dark Eco-powered beast is naturally retained, with some new abilities added. The greatest of these is the ability to switch to and from this form at will, so long as you have some Dark Eco stored up. Jak also eventually gains the ability to morph into a Light Eco-powered form (of course), which boasts a variety of other abilities and works almost exactly like the Dark Jak form.

Where Dark Jak is all about spinning around and kicking the shit out of enemies, Light Jak's abilities are more varied. The single most useful of these is the ability to heal Jak. This ability alone makes the game damnably easy past the point at which you get it, as opportunities to recharge your Light Eco are almost never far away. The most fun of the Light Jak abilities is the ability to fly over short distances.

Where Jak II had four guns of various uses to play with, Jak 3 has twelve. The new guns are mostly just variations on the original four (which are all retained), and Naughty Dog should be applauded for making almost all of them weapons that actually remain useful throughout pretty much the entire game. A particular favorite is the variant of the simple blaster that causes its shots to reflect off of walls.

Jak II was based more than a little off of the Grand Theft Auto formula: there was a big city filled with (hover) cars, which you could steal at will, and there were various missions to complete. Jak 3 does not entirely abandon this formula, but it does manage to solve the problem of driving around the city being goddamned annoying. The wastelander's village is nearly deviod of traffic to contend with, and has a much simpler layout than Haven city (being just a main street and a couple of side-streets). Travel around the largely wide-open wasteland is accomplished via one of several cars designed for the task (most of which have weapons on them). The remnents of Haven City work almost exactly as they always did, but with noticably fewer cars zipping around and with a greatly reduced area to contend with.

In the end, Jak 3 is even more fun than Jak II. One major gripe of the second game is that it involved far too much running back and forth from one end of the suprisingly large Haven City to the other. Jak 3 avoids this by handily demolishing most of the city, so when you do venture back to it in the latter portions of the game, there is less of it to deal with. The vast areas that are entirely new are also much simpler in design; it would seem Naughty Dog learned their lesson. This is a worthy platformer, and I would recommend it to fans of the genre.

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