Way Back When
Following the success of Naughty Dog’s Jak and Daxter: The Precursory Legacy, the team went back to the drawing board to see how best to expand the world and gameplay of the game for a sequel. However, upon getting their hands on Jak II in 2003, PlayStation 2 gamers were surprised to see that it was a vastly different experience than its predecessor, shedding the more playful and family-friendly platforming to become more of an open world third-person shooter that felt far more akin Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clank franchise.
This change in gameplay also came with a change in setting, moving from the original game’s lighthearted island to a much darker, oppressive metropolis full of miscreants and law enforcement. This hub location of Haven City served as a Grand Theft Auto-esque metropolis for players to explore using vehicles and a hoverboard, while providing entry points to individual levels with objectives that would move the story forward. Of course, having such separated levels was also a departure from the first game and its seamless open island full of collectibles and rare loading screens, though Naughty Dog managed to make it feel like a natural evolution.
Platforming still played a role in Jak II, but the title was undoubtedly more centered around using a variety of guns to kill enemies. These miniguns, shotguns, energy weapons, and more provided plenty of ways to tackle situations, but it didn’t stop the game from being brutally tough for some players. In addition to some occasionally imbalanced combat situations, checkpoints often felt unfairly placed and navigating the city could prove frustrating at times. All of this was met with harsh criticisms by many critics, and Jak II landed itself a reputation as one of the PS2’s hardest games.
Nevertheless, Jak II went on to receive plenty of critical praise due to its fundamentally enjoyable gameplay, even if the extreme challenge and darker tone alienated a portion of The Precursor Legacy admirers. The sequel was added to Sony’s “Greatest Hits” selections about a year after its release and went on to become known as one of the PS2’s best games. In the years since, the entire Naughty Dog collection of Jak and Daxter games have been remastered for the PS3 and PS4, and nostalgic fans have since expressed hope that the beloved duo will return sometime in the near future.
Where You Can Play It Now
Due to being exclusive to PlayStation, Jak II and the rest of the games in the franchise are only available on one modern system via remasters, which were originally made for the PS3 and Vita but have since been ported to the PS4. They can be played via backwards compatibility on the PS5, too, with all of the same upgraded resolutions and so forth.
Here’s the modern platforms on which you can access Jak II:
- PlayStation 4
- PlayStation 5
It’s regrettable that there has yet to be a remaster of the duo’s final game Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (from High Impact Games) or the PSP spin-off Daxter (from Ready at Dawn), but you should still definitely take a look at the remaining Naughty Dog entries in the franchise. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak 3 and Jak X: Combat Racing are all available right away.