Jak X wheels into stores

Naughty Dog's hero and rodent friend steer new course; latest Jak & Daxter game is a combat racer for the PlayStation 2.

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The move from platformer to kart racer is surprisingly easy for gaming icons that make their name by jumping from place to place, saving helpless princesses, and collecting bananas, coins, and other shiny objects. Mario, Donkey Kong, and Crash Bandicoot did it, why shouldn't the latest characters of platforming stardom go for a ride?

Jak and Daxter, the current 3D action heroes of the PlayStation 2, are the latest characters to get behind the wheel of some combat karts. Sony Computer Entertainment America today announced that Jak X: Combat Racing has shipped to stores for the PS2. Sony subsidiary Naughty Dog, who also took Crash Bandicoot on the racing circuit, handled the game's development.

The game starts off where Jak 3 finished, with the world on the mend. Sports have emerged as the number one form of entertainment, and Kras City has become the capital of combat racing. Jak, Daxter, and several others all convene on the city for a reading of the will of Krew, one of Jak's old nemeses. The evil Krew, as evil villains will do, dupes those in attendance by announcing that they've all been poisoned and can only get the antidote if they win the upcoming Kras City Grand Championship in his name.

Each car will be outfitted with weapons and boosts courtesy of power-ups scattered across the courses. The 12 vehicles in Jak X are all customizable with snap-on body parts and paint jobs. Racing and combat will take place across 24 racetracks and seven arenas. When Daxter for the PSP comes out in 2006, more content can be unlocked for both games by connecting the handheld to the console.

Adventure mode offers 80 events to race in, and takes players through the game's story. Pick-up-and-play modes include the first-to-finish circuit race mode, the destroy-everyone-else death race mode, and multiplayer action for up to six online or two via split-screen in exhibition race mode.

Jak X: Combat Racing is rated T for Teen and retails for $39.99. To see if the game takes pole position or is a wreck, check back later today for GameSpot's full review.

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