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     " Sony does it again-and again with a sleeper title you would never expect to be anything special. "

      Title: Jak II by Sony

      Format: PS2 Platformer

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed "Jak and Daxter", Sony returns with developer Naughty Dog's latest showing. More action than adventure oriented, Jak II relegates the weasel-esque Daxter to wise cracking comic relief and focuses on Jak's ability to generally make merry mayhem. But in this age of cloned sequels and unrepentant franchise expansion is there room for another platformer? Read on, my monkeys, and find out for sure.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: I don't know what it is about the PS2, but every time we think we've seen a high water mark some developer comes along and turns out another system defining bit of beauty. And while Jak II might not be enough to put the market to shame, it is certainly enough to remind you why it is the PS2 isn't a washed up console. Vibrant, deep, and lush, the graphics in Jak II are truly fantastic and give new hope for an aging GPU. Plus, as if that wasn't enough, with clipping kept to a minimum and frame rates kept high, Jak II plays "pretty" as well. 4.75 out of 5

      Playability: Without question the standard in the industry, any time a sequel is introduced, is to take the original, polish up the graphics a bit, add a new move or two, and then release it for another $50 drag on the industry. And while that's not always a bad thing (usually, but not always), it is the game few and far between that actually breaks new ground and opens the envelope further. Well, low and behold, Sony does it again-and again with a sleeper title you would never expect to be anything special.
          While keeping with some of the more base action elements from the first game, Jak II is really about cross genre integration. Not limited to any one action or adventure game style, Naughty Dog saw fit to incorporate an element from just about every major platformer in the last 5 years. Based around a non-linear city adventure where you take on individual missions of your choice as you meander through a greater story, Jak II will have you "borrowing" cars and racing around a-la Grand Theft Auto, grinding rails like Tony Hawk, button-mash fighting, puzzle solving, jump mastering, running and gunning, and just about anything else you can imagine. Each mission gives you a different objective and play style and so involves the most diverse and in-depth play of any platformer ever.
          Most shocking, though, isn't that they did it, but rather that they did it well. Each individual element plays as or near-as good as any other game in which that's the primary component and the controls are universally tight throughout. Further, the different styles are integrated seamlessly so that it doesn't feel the slightest bit odd that one minute you're shredding your board and the next fraggin' a baddie. 4.5 out of 5

      Story and Drama: While not horrible by any stretch, the story is definitely where Jak II suffers the most. The plot itself is a collection of trite and over-done game-isms that are hardly worth mentioning. Worse is the fact that, given the non-linear aspect of the game, you may go significant lengths of time without any story advancements at all. But, still, what it does offer, trite though it may be, is entertaining enough to keep you going. 3.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: While the missions themselves are entertaining, one thing for certain will bug the heck out of you, and that's the incredibly uneventful wandering it takes to get from mission to mission. Reminiscent of the Knights of the Old Republic doldrums, Jak II could stand to have some activity as you go from A to B. Not that this alone will keep you from playing it again, but it will contribute to the likelihood that you will only give Jak II one go round…but at least that go round will be a ton of fun. 3 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       Despite the periodic cries that the platformer is dead, Jak II rises from the proverbial ashes to remind us not only that the genre is alive and well, but also of what it's capable of. Varied, smooth, and thoroughly entertaining this may be the new benchmark for all other games like it.

      The Good: Lots of variety in a killer game.

      The Bad: A bit disjointed at times with boring runs from A to B.

      The Overall Ugly: Don't let the negativity fool you…this is a must play.

      What it's Worth: Market

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