In every age, there is a time of trial.”
Jak II (Jak II: Renegade in Europe and Australia) is the second game in the Jak and Daxter series, and the third chronologically. Jak II has darker and more mature themes than the first game, and Jak speaks for the first time in the series.
Jak II is set in Haven City, a dystopian city state ruled by Baron Praxis, a power mad dictator. Haven City's leader is waging a war with the Metal Heads merely to keep power. Haven is said to be have been the largest city; its citizens are told there is no life outside its walls, and that they are safe inside. The world is much more technologically advanced than The Precursor Legacy, and there is now an absence of Eco that was abundant in the previous game. The setting is overall darker than The Precursor Legacy, with a grimmer setting and heavier topics and story elements.
Like Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, this game's story begins with a speech by Samos Hagai. Jak, Daxter, Samos and Keira Hagai all use a Precursor device known as the Rift Rider, and its accompanied Rift Gate. The Gate is activated, and a huge figure steps out, accompanied by a swarm of creatures. When they go through, the Rider is destroyed, and they fall through the rift, ending up in Haven City. Jak is kidnapped by several Krimzon Guards and a captain, Erol. Two years later, Jak is seen in the Krimzon Guard Fortress, having been injected with Dark Eco. Two figures, Erol and Baron Praxis, look at Jak, and declare the "Dark Warrior Program a failure". Jak is left alone, to be rescued by Daxter (as per the events of Daxter (game). He transforms into a monstrousity of Dark Jak, and then returns to normal, but for the first time, talks. Jak and Daxter escape the fortress, beginning the game.
Once outside, they meet an old man named Kor, and the Kid, a young child who resembles Jak and, fittingly, does not speak. Jak saves them from an approaching group of Krimzon Guards and, for the first time in public, transforms into Dark Jak, to the surprise of Kor. He then tells Jak to go see The Shadow, who is the leader of the Underground. Kor tells Jak that "they can help you." Upon finding the Hideout, however, Jak and Daxter meet Torn, a high-ranking member of the Underground. He assigns most of the missions and oversees an occasional few. He refuses to let Jak and Daxter see the Shadow until they have proven themselves, revealing he is suspicious and slightly cutthroat. Torn sent the two on many missions.
When the two infiltrate a KG fortress, they find a group of Krimzon Guards giving Eco to a group of Metal Heads, much to their surprise, as the two factions are meant to be at war. Torn then sends the "Demolition Duo" on a delivery job to the Hip Hog Heaven Saloon, where they meet the foul, morbidly obese boss, Krew, and his bodyguard Sig. Jak and Daxter work with Sig and Krew, who give Jak weapons in return for his services.
After reporting back to Torn, they realize that Baron Praxis is working with the Metal Heads to stay on the throne, and that the war has been a distraction from Praxis' harsh government. In light of these events, Torn sends Jak and Daxter on missions in which they meet Vin, a paranoid scientist, and Ashelin Praxis, a high ranking member of the Krimzon Guard who, unbeknownst to the rest of the Guard, has been working with The Underground.
Krew, who now deals out missions to Jak regularly, sends him to meet a racing manager down in the stadium. She is later revealed to be Keira Hagai. Torn tells Jak that the "Shadow" wants him to stop the Metal Heads from reaching "The Sacred Site" outside the city walls, in order to protect an important artifact from the creatures. At the end of this mission, Jak and Daxter make a horrifying discovery. They realize that the Sacred Site is actually Samos' old hut, meaning that they are in the future of their own world. The Shadow is revealed to be Samos who, surprisingly to Jak and Daxter, didn't recognize them.
Despite having to deal with a younger (and possibly even grouchier) Samos, Jak and Daxter press on to more important matters. They are told that the boy with Kor was important because, as heir to the throne of Mar, he can open the Tomb of Mar, which hides the Precursor Stone, a critical artifact in their efforts to win the war against the Metal Heads. Upon activating a beam in the forest, Jak and Daxter destroy a statue of Baron Praxis, revealing that the Tomb is right beneath it. After taking the boy to the tomb, the Oracle states that the Kid is too young to face the Trials of Manhood, and the door begins to shut. Jak and Daxter dive underneath it as it closes, in order to find the Precursor Stone. After completing the Trials Of Manhood, the duo enters the main room, which holds the Precursor Stone. An Oracle tells them that the Metal Heads are responsible for destroying the Precursors. Baron Praxis then arrived, and despite Jak's efforts, manages to escape with the Stone.
Back at the Hideout, Torn confesses that he sold the Underground out to prevent Praxis from killing Ashelin, the Baron's own daughter. This has led to the capture of several members of the Underground, whom Jak and Daxter then headed to the Fortress to rescue. After freeing the captives, Jak and Daxter are shocked to find that there are two Green Sages—the young Samos who leads the Underground, and Keira's father who was taken into the Rift Gate with them. Returning to the Hideout, both of the Sages send Jak to find the Life Seed in the old hut; the Life Seed would give young Samos the power that the old Samos himself has. Samos reveals that he was harvesting the Life Seed from the great tree in the hut years before they went through the Rift Gate. After escorting Young Samos to the forest, Jak learns from Samos' meditations about Praxis' plans to violently crack open the Stone in an effort to destroy the Metal Heads. This cracking of the Precursor Stone would certainly put an end to the Metal Heads. But, unbeknownst to Praxis, it would destroy everything else in existence as well.
Later, Keira reveals that she has nearly completed a replica Rift Rider based on the one that carried them into their current time, but that she is still missing two main pieces. Jak then races and wins for Keira's team, in order to gain an entrance pass to the Haven Palace. Praxis, however, orders the guards to kill Jak upon realizing who he is. Jak and Daxter escape due to Erol, who tried to run them down because he lost the race. He instead misses them, crashing into several barrels of Dark Eco, which presumably kill him. At the Palace, Ashelin holds Jak at gunpoint, demanding to know why he has been sabotaging Praxis' war with the Metal Heads. She doesn't believe him when he tells her that her father's plan to crack the Precursor Stone will destroy the planet, until she calls Vin, who succeeds in convincing her.
Ashelin confided in Jak and Daxter that Krew is building something for the Baron at a secret Weapons Factory. Jak and Daxter proceed to the factory, and Krew reveals the Piercer Bomb, which has the power to destroy the Precursor Stone. Krew gives Jak a weapon damage upgrade mod, telling them to forget what they has seen. However, Jak and Daxter refuse, choosing instead to fight Krew in order to stop his plan. Though defeated, Krew manages to activate the bomb in a last-ditch effort to kill Jak and Daxter. They escaped with Ashelin, but Krew is left at the construction site and killed in the explosion of the Piercer Bomb. Jak and Daxter escape only to discover that the Metal Heads have breached Haven City due to another treachery of Krew.
Jak and Daxter now become worried for Sig, who was recently sent on 'one last mission' by Krew. After Jak finds him in the Underport, Sig reveals that the Metal Heads are coming in through a passage Krew that had him unknowingly open. Despite making it to the elevator out of the Underport, Sig disappears when a huge Metal Head caterpillar crashes through the bridge upon which he stood, and he is lost in the depths below.
Jak and Daxter go to confront Baron Praxis at the Construction Site, but Metal Kor reveals himself. Kor reveals he is the leader of the Metal Heads, and proceeds to kill Baron Praxis. Praxis showed the two heroes a second Piercer Bomb which truly hides the Precursor Stone. With this final revelation, Praxis dies, fulfilling Jak's initial wish, even if he did not do it himself. His last words were "Remember, the first rule in making a bomb...is to always make two". Daxter hastily recovers the Stone, disarming the Piercer Bomb and saving the world.
The two use the Precursor Stone, and attack the Metal Head Nest, in which they confront Kor. Kor makes the ultimate revelation that the Kid is a young Jak, and that Jak and the young Samos would go to the past to improve their skills up to this point. Jak defeated Metal Kor, and sent his past self and Samos to the past. The Precursor Stone was opened, but only a hologram of a Precursor comes out of it..
The group celebrates victory over the Metal Heads at the Hip Hog Heaven Saloon, which Daxter takes over for himself and renames "the Naughty Ottsel". Sig reappears--to the excitement of all of the people at the party--having survived his seemingly final battle with the gigantic Metal Head caterpillar. Samos mourns and contemplates the deaths of Vin and all of the other people who gave their lives in pursuit of peace and justice throughout Haven City. Finally, Sig gives Jak the Ruby Key, an artifact with the ability to bypass all security in Haven, and says he was the designated driver. Jak grinned and adamantly says he is done with adventures. However, Samos cryptically hints that they may meet Mar someday, and that he may be closer than they think.
Haven City, peaceful at last, fades to black under a beautiful, firework-filled sky as the credits are displayed.
The core change in gameplay in Jak II compared with the previous game was actually fairly small. They kept the same moveset and the platforming aspect (moving platforms, pits, etc.) is still prominent. The use of Eco has been removed and replaced with the Morph Gun. Racing and the use of vehicles is still an important gameplay element as well.
New is the use of a more open sandbox world (unlike the original game, there is only one hub; Haven City) and the plot progresses by completing missions in a more or less set order, unlike the previous' game non-linear missions. You still can collect items, precursor orbs are now more rare and unlock upgrades and you have to collect Skull Gems to buy Dark Jak upgrades.
As with the previous game, there are no load times and it retains the seamless transitions from before. Unlike the previous game however is the introduction of one massive hub. Haven City in itself is an alive and booming location, with civilians and the Krimzon Guard police force moving around on foot and zoomers.
The areas outside the city walls however are plagued by hostile creatures called Metal Heads, which Jak has to fight while moving throughout the locations. Similar as before the locations all vary in size and often you re-visit them to access new areas often with the use of a new vehicle. New to the locations is a heavy industrialized element, there is still a beach but it now doubles as a pumping station, you visit a fortress, weapons factory, drill platform, strip mine but also common places such as a precursor temple or a forest.
Completely new to the series, this replaces the Eco from The Precursor Legacy. The Morph Gun is a multi-use offensive weapon, capable of using different mods for different firing modes. There are four basic mods (Red, Yellow, Blue and the Dark Mod) and each has its own weapon. Early in the game you receive the Scatter Gun, the Blaster and after a while the Vulcan Fury and finally the Peace Maker. Each weapon can be used in combination with the standard moveset, making it possible to make combo's to do new useful attacks.
Dark Jak is a new dark alter ego of Jak. After the Baron's experiments; Jak has the ability to turn into a dark angry version of himself. In this state he can attack incredibly fast and withstand more damage but he can't use weapons or vehicles. To learn new attacks he has to collect Skull Gems and spend them at an Oracle, these new attacks can kill anything on-screen as well as turn Dark Jak invincible or into a giant.
In place of a single A-Grav Zoomer, Jak can now use an unlimited amount of Zoomers driving throughout Haven City. They can either fly at ground or a set mid-air level, Krimzon Guard zoomers also have mounted blasters which can be used to shoot enemies. Races still exist and the player has to compete in both stadium NYFE racing and illegal city races.
Jak also receives a new Jet Board (similar to a skateboard) which he can use to move a bit faster than walking and fly over dangerous substances, grind over rails and perform various tricks. Finally there's also the Titan Suit a large two-legged mech that Jak can use to break walls or big doors and defeat strong Metal Heads.
Development and productionEdit
Jak II's development was begun after The Precursor Legacy was finished, and took 2 years. Naughty Dog were originally unsure whether there would be a sequel to The Precursor Legacy, but due to hugely positive reception for that game, Jak II was developed.
Naughty Dog had stated in an interview that they wanted to improve on the game's character development and story elements. They also stated that they wanted to create a living, habitable and believable city.
This game received very positive reviews from critics. It won Editor's Choice from IGN, and was nominated for Best PlayStation 2 Game by GameSpot, and received aggregate scores of 87/100 on MetaCritic and 88% on Game Rankings. Jak II was added to Sony's Greatest Hits lineup on September 8, 2004, signifying at least 400,000 copies sold in its first 11 months.
The entire Jak II soundtrack was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, Josh Mancell, and Larry Hopkins.