Jak 3 E3 2004 Hands-On

We get some hands-on time with Naughty Dog's upcoming platformer from the E3 show floor.

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At Sony's E3 2004 booth, we got the opportunity to sit down with developers from Naughty Dog to take a look at Jak 3. Jak 3 is the upcoming conclusion to the Jak & Daxter trilogy, the platforming series that began back in 2000 and has since become one of the most popular PlayStation 2 exclusive franchises. Though the first sequel to Jak & Daxter came out just one year ago, Naughty Dog already seems to have the game in good, working condition. Our demo of the game revealed some new tidbits on the scope of the game's design, as well as some plot points and otherwise intriguing information.

In Jak 3, Jak and his ever-incorrigible partner Daxter have been exiled to the Wasteland, a desolate, barren desert that simply permeates doom. The Wasteland itself is vast--very vast. The scope of the entire game's world is said to be 5 times the size of Haven City from Jak II, with much of that being made up of the Wasteland itself. In addition to the generally nasty nature of the desert, including the obvious scorching heat and occasional, violent sandstorms, numerous enemies roam the area. Massive metal heads and angry marauders are just some of the baddies you'll encounter as you explore this massive desert.

But, how did Jak and Daxter end up in this unpleasant predicament? This is where things start to get a bit complex. It seems that immediately following Jak II, the defeat of Metal Kor has actually led to more problems than solutions in the city. Three different warring factions are vying for control of the city, and as such, the entire population has been thrown into chaos. Jak and Daxter are made the proverbial whipping boys for the cause of this chaos, and as a result, they are tossed into the Wasteland. After wandering the desert for a spell, they are eventually rescued by a tribe of nomadic people, made up largely of other, previously banished citizens. Though the pair is welcomed into the tribe's city, it becomes clear that not all of the population is happy to see them, and thus begins a series of trials to prove your worthiness as a member of this society.

However, the Wasteland isn't the only place you'll find yourself in Jak 3. Eventually, you will make your way back to Haven City, though it will be a decidedly different Haven City than you'll remember from Jak 2. Ruins of many of the landmark buildings are scattered throughout the landscape, and the war between the factions is readily apparent (depending on which portion of the city you find yourself in). Familiar characters from the last game, such as Pecker, will make appearances in the city, along with several new characters.

Jak 3 features dozens of different vehicle types as well as multiple upgraded weapons. A vehicle we saw during our demo was a flying ship, which we used to dash and dart around a massive war factory in Haven City, knocking out turret guns and tanks that patrolled the area. There was also a dune buggy, which included an ever-useful machine gun as well as the ability to jump, so as to traverse nasty gaps. When not in a vehicle, you'll have plenty of gun types to choose from, including upgradeable versions of each. Some of the weapon upgrades we saw consisted of a ricochet shot which would bounce off of walls, floors, and ceilings to find its nearest target, a remote shooter that would jump ahead several feet from us and unleash an onslaught of ammo. The shooter also had a gun that featured bullets that seek enemies, a la Gary Oldman's specialized gun from The Fifth Element.

Jak also has some new abilities at his disposal, including his all-new light form. We dove into his light form a bit in our previous coverage of the game, though during this demo session we saw considerably more. When enacting his light eco powers, Jak is morphed into an angel-like form, with spindly, energized wings that allow him to fly and glide around environments. In addition, when in light form Jak can regenerate his health, and put to use a "flash freeze" effect, which essentially puts everything into bullet time. However, unlike Jak's dark eco powers, you can't simply use them at any point. Instead, specific vents that charge up Jak's light powers can be found sporadically throughout the game, and those allow you to put your powers to use.

We also got to take some brief looks at a few other random missions from the game. One actually featured a Daxter minigame, where we had to chase down a number of speedy lizards on a dune buggy. After getting close enough, with a press of a button we launched Daxter onto the back of the lizard, and thus took control of the unwieldy beast. Another minigame we saw involved turret-shooting a number of targets to defeat the score of a boastful warrior. Of course, we got to see some real missions too, such as a mission where we had to rescue several citizens of the desert city from the outer reaches of the Wasteland during a massive storm. Along the way, marauders got in our way--that was, until we blasted through their dune buggies with our trusty machine gun. We also encountered our first "mini boss" in this mission, which was a large, purple, robotic entity that shot out laser-charged tendrils in a circular fashion.

If the demo we experienced at E3 is any indication, fans of the Jak series won't be disappointed by Jak 3 when it hits store shelves late this year. Stay tuned for more coverage of the game in the coming weeks.

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