Jak II Hands-On Impressions

We play through the early stages of Naughty Dog's sequel at the PlayStation Experience event in London.

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During a visit to SCEE's PlayStation Experience event in London earlier today, we got a chance to play through the early stages of Jak II: Renegade--Naughty Dog's sequel to Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. The preview build of the game on display seemed to be almost complete, and it kicked off only moments after the ending of the first game.

Jak II's lengthy intro starts at the same laboratory the first game did, and it sees the assembled characters getting sucked through a rift gate into the future as soon as the precursor artifact is activated. We eventually landed in a large futuristic metropolis known as Haven City, but, before we actually got to do anything, Jak was captured by guards and taken away to a large prison to be experimented on.

In the next scene, Jak is shown strapped to a table as a scientist expresses his disappointment that his "dark warrior" experiment has proved unsuccessful before leaving the room--clearing the way for a daring rescue, courtesy of Daxter. Before the end of the cutscene, we were afforded a brief glimpse of what the dark warrior experiments have done to Jak--causing him to involuntarily transform into a pale blue, Hulk-like version of himself.

The escape from the prison serves as a training level of sorts, with all the moves from the first game being required to proceed at one time or another. Memorable moments from the escape included negotiating large moving platforms, crashing through floors to reach levels below, and running across a room with a meshed floor as guards fired lasers at us from the room beneath. There was never any real danger that our escape attempt would fail, but the odds started to stack up against us within moments of getting out into Haven City.

After speaking with an elderly gentleman who offered us some advice, a large group of guards approached us and we were forced to defend ourselves. During the fight that ensued, we once again got a look at Jak's new dark side--and this time we were able to control him. In his angry blue form, Jak is a lethal weapon--not only do his regular attacks all become much more powerful, but pink lightning bolts that emit from his body do damage to any enemies that get too close for comfort. Once the fight was over, we headed into the city in search of a local resistance-group leader named Tom who told us that if we could steal the flag from the top of the evil Baron Praxis' tower, he'd let us join his group.

Since the tower in question was at the other end of the city, we opted to use transport and, by pressing the triangle button, were able to "borrow" one of the hovering vehicles that make up the city's traffic. The vehicles come in a number of different shapes and sizes and, after trying out a few different ones, we decided to stick with the largest of the lot, which, although less maneuverable than the smaller models, came with its own front-mounted weapon. Driving the vehicles in Jak II is extremely simple, although alternating between two different altitudes using the R2 button rather than being able to control it manually definitely took a bit of getting used to.

The enemies on the grounds of the Baron's tower consisted of frog- and lizard-like creatures mostly, and despite their numbers they proved to be little more than an inconvenience as we went about the tricky job of making our way to the top of the tower. Long jumps, crumbling platforms, and acrobatic swinging all had a part to play en route, and we found ourselves falling back to ground level on more than one occasion before reaching our goal.

Our time with Jak II came to an end as we watched a cutscene in which Jak hands the flag to Tom and, as the tower collapsed in the distance with perfect comedy timing, we were told that we'd been accepted into the group. What'll happen next we don't know, but rest assured that we'll be bringing you lots more Jak II coverage before the game arrives in stores on October 15.

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