While the RATCHET AND CLANK and SLY COOPER series may have gotten more media attention than JAK AND DAXTER have in the past couple of years, there is still a heck of a good game waiting from those great minds at Naughty Dog studio. JAK 3 completes the trilogy that began as a platformer in the early days of the PlayStation 2 and has morphed into a darker, story driven hybrid of mission-based and platform style gameplay.
The game starts out with the palace in the city being destroyed and Jak being banished to the desert. He meets up with the Wastelanders and at this point there are two very different areas of the game. One involves foot missions, mostly based inside of the Wasteland town and locations in the desert, while the other element is a SMUGGLER'S RUN-esque mission set.
These missions are an absolute blast as Jak can acquire different vehicles to use, each with different abilities and weapons. While each vehicle handles differently, there are some other differences like how well the booster engine works and what jumping ability the vehicle has. One hopping dune buggy is used to get out to an island by leaping across chasms one of the jaw-dropping "that's so cool" moments in the game.
The desert wasteland driving missions work a lot better than the in city missions of JAK 2. I thought they felt a lot better than that first game. Those missions are in this game as well, but much more limited, and the levels in town don't seem to be nearly as nasty as the second title in the series. In fact, this game seems easier to me that could be a result of already playing through JAK 2, or just because the difficulty was toned back because of complaints.
One other new aspect in the game is the Light Jak powers. While the second game was about the dark side of Jak being explored, this is more about his redemption and the discovery of the good part of his powers. It makes for a lighter tone (think RETURN OF THE JEDI to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) and also for some interesting new moves that help you while not being destructive. These are what you might expect, stuff like slowing down time and disappearing from enemy perception.
There are new weapon upgrades as well that allow you to cycle through varying levels of your weapons to varying effects. Very handy in those situations where you need a slight modification of your firepower to clear a room of bad guys. Even with these though, I found myself sticking to my regular guns a lot of the time to save ammo even though the electricity version of the Vulcan cannon is quite nice.
This is all well and good, but I didn't feel like it added that much more to the game. In fact, this seems as if it's a natural extension of JAK 2 (and was probably planned as part of the game but scoped out). Don't take this the wrong way though, it's still a great game and a lot of fun to play, but nothing that much beyond the first sequel.
The sound is solid as always with great voice acting, fantastic music, and good sound effects. The Dolby Pro Logic II helps out a lot and gives the game a great sound on a surround sound system.
All in all, I like how the game has been tightened up. The new driving missions are much better, the difficulty has been toned down (though maybe a bit too much), and the new weapon mods and Light Jak powers add something new. Ultimately though, this is a solid game that works better than JAK 2. It's not really revolutionary, but is worth making time for in this busy holiday season.