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Jak X PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Naughty Dog
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Jak X: Combat Racing, an introduction.

After a while almost every game series reaches a point where something has to change. To keep up with the rest of the industry all games have to evolve in order to reflect the changes in demand from the public. Generally these changes are quite small, with general refinements of well established gameplay. Sometimes however, the game takes such a leap that it doesn’t even fit into the same genre any more. It’s been seen in the past with games like Mario Kart, and we see it here now with Jak X: Combat Racing.

What's the game about?

The game begins with an excellent cut scene which fully explains the evolution of the title and why you find yourself in a racing game rather than an action game. Jak and Daxter, along with several familiar faces, have been invited to Kras City to hear the will reading of Krew (who you may remember from Jak II). Unfortunately for all involved, including Krew’s own daughter Rayn, as the will is being read they all drink a glass of fine vintage wine which has been spiked with a slow acting poison. The reason is soon revealed by the holographic Krew – win the Kras City Grand Championship, and they’ll all be given the antidote. And thus the story begins.

What's good about the game?

The racing is fast and fun, with a varied amount of weapons that are both offensive and defensive in nature. You get the more common weapons like machine guns, rockets and oil slicks, but also cool ones such as a defensive drone which shoots anything that comes near you. You also get health and boost pick ups on the track, and while the health picks are used instantly, both the boost and weapon pick ups can be used when you feel they’re necessary, giving you the chance to implement your own strategy where you’d like. There’s also a good variety in the type of races you’ll do, from normal racing, to death races where you have to kill as many drones as possible, to time freeze modes, and many more. This variety means you won’t get bored of the racing too easily. There are also some excellent cut scenes with a good amount of real humour, something we don’t see that often. You’ll also find lots to unlock, in terms of cars and upgrades. There should be plenty in there for people who like to complete a game 100%. And on top of all this, there is online play available too.

What's not so good about the game?

The control scheme seems a bit fiddly at times and takes a bit of getting used to. It’s generally not so bad, but if you try boosting while keeping your finger on the accelerator while also trying to fire a weapon you can easily get your fingers in a twist! It also has annoying rubber-band AI, similar to the catch-up logic seen in games like Need for Speed: Underground. It doesn’t matter how many times you crash or get wasted, you’ll never be too far behind. Similarly, if you have a perfect race but crash on that final turn, expect to see lots of cars flying past you. An overabundance of weapon pick ups means that you’ll never be short of weapons, and neither will your opponents. Expect to die repeatedly in each race, sometimes several times in quick succession.

How does it look?

The graphics are excellent in Jak X, with both the car and character models looking great. The cut scenes all look fantastic and everything is animated superbly, with some fantastic expressions from the characters. They really bring the game and story to life and make it more than just your basic racing game. There are some very nice affects during the races too, such as particle effects and things falling off your car. And even with all this, despite the mayhem that can appear on screen, I didn’t notice any slowdown at all.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The game is well suited to deaf gamers. Subtitles are available right from the start (with a message popping up right away telling you how to turn them off and on), so you never feel like you’re missing out on the story. Even in the races you’re not at a real disadvantage, as you get visual warnings when someone has locked on and is about to shoot you with a missile. There are occasional bits of in-race speech which isn’t subtitled, but they’re mainly comments between racers and something you can easily live without knowing.

Final thoughts.

I was a bit apprehensive when I approached this, as combat racing games are something that can be lots of fun when done right, but are often done wrong. I needn’t have worried. Naughty Dog has done an excellent job of getting pretty much everything in the game right, with varied game modes and a story that keeps you interested. Certainly one of the best combat racers I’ve ever played.

 

Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


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Jak X is a great game that will provide lots of hours of fun with its great story and varied racing modes. The online play will only serve to extend the life span of the game. The game does have its faults as mentioned above, but these are minor in the overall scheme of things. Jak X is a game I would definitely recommend.