Jak 3 is the third (and last) installment in Sony's PS2 platforming franchise and while it's predecessors were solid enough adventures, they suffered slightly thanks to ill-concieved design choices. The original was tied down thanks to poor, crampt level design and frankly annoying voices and while it's sequel amended some of these annoyances, it too fell foul to some almost game-ruining flaws. Huge difficulty spikes were prevalent and there was an over-emphasis on poorly implemented timed missions. Jak 3 irons out some of these problems but in doing so creates some new ones.
Jak 3 takes place after the conclusion of Jak II - Jak and Daxter are now heroes and the city of Haven is in ruins thanks to an on-going war with the Metal Heads. The gameplay in Jak 3 is practically identical to it's immediate predecessor so veterans of the last game will find themselves right at home here.
Unlike Jak II however, Jak 3 does not take place directly in Haven City but instead in various dessert wastes made accessible by dune buggys (a step up from the boring hovercraft vehicles of the last game). The dessert hub world is far easier to navagate (and fun) than that of the last games' with missions only seconds away and clearly shown by the radar.
One persistent problem with the last game was combat - the lack of a strafe feature resulted in many a premature death. Unfortunately, it's no different in this game - perhaps even worse - due to combat taking place in relatively cramped locales and the mandatory rubbish camera that accompanies almost every platformer these days.
If the world in Jak II was too big, then the one in Jak 3 is too small. At first this seems like a heaven sent after the aimless wondering of the last game. However, as the game goes on it becomes apparant that the only reason it's so small is because the designers have run out of ideas. As anyone who has even a passing interest in video games will attest, desserts are the most boring, lazy and downright bland setting a level could have - they're never fun nor are they aesthetically pleasing.
Another problem is the fact that a lot of real estate from the last game is reused to a startling degree resulting in a sense of laziness on the developers part. Jak 3's Haven City, despite being war torn, is almost identical to that of Jak II's (with the exception being population - it's seems pretty lifeless and artificial compared to the last game). Seeing as it was only a year since we were tearing through Jak II when Jak 3 came out, it seems all the more pointless to revist.
One thing Jak 3 does get right is it's sense of humor. In Jak 1, Daxter was an annoying bastard always churning out snide comments at, seemingly, every turn. Jak II's Daxter was more refined, appealing more to the everyman and not just children. In Jak 3, Naughty Dog has realised his potential and made him the drunken, gambling, sex crazed opposite of Jak - his lines are laugh out loud funny and you'll find yourself playing through till the end just to see what Daxter says next! This is further helped by the fact that the voice acting and script are generally great - well delivered and written.
Graphically the game is a marvel. Characters are more detailed than those of it's predecessor and enviroments look good enough to eat off of. The only place in which the graphics really let down is in Naughty Dogs insistence on using drab browns and greens to colour some of it's later levels (probably the only time Naughty Dog has lived up to it's name of being a particularly badly behaved canine ).
For all it's problems Jak 3 remains a fun, little platformer (only 10 hours long!). The platforming remains as fun as it always has been even with stiff competition from a certain Persian Prince, thievius racoon and rookie Psychonaut. The combat, while not as crisp or as satisfying as fellow Sony mascot Ratchet, is still fun and gets the job done.
Jak 3 is, without a doubt, the best in Sony's trilogy of Jaks yet with almost every nuisance from previous games ironed out. While certain other games get the job done a hell of a lot more cleaner, Naughty Dogs efforts should not be ignored.
7 / 10