Last time we heard from Jak, he was celebrating the completion of a rather epic cycle that seemed to answer just about all the pertinent questions about his path through life, with his enemies vanquished and his new home of Haven City sitting pretty and free. But, of course, anybody expecting our hero to disappear quietly into the night was seriously misguided - he's disappeared from Haven City all right, but as we heard last month, his exit was rather more of an eviction than a dignified epilogue. As it turns out, Haven City rather went to hell following Jak's supposed victory, the loss of its nefarious rulers leaving a vast power vacuum that three rival factions immediately attempted to fill, thrusting Jak and Daxter into the wastelands and exile in the process.
Following their ousting - along with Pecker, the rather 'colourful' bird who tested Daxter's patience in some of the last game's funniest cut sequences - it turns out Jak's heroic credentials didn't really cut the real world's mustard. After wandering around a bit and falling down almost stone dead, Jak and his cohorts were rescued and taken to the wasteland city of Spargus - reportedly five times the size of Haven City - and Jak found himself having to prove his worthiness all over again by undergoing various trials. Facing a similar run of varied mission objectives, Jak has little choice but to get to it. Fortunately, he does at least have his hover board, the titan suit, and a hang glider to make use of along the way (after all, what works for Ratchet & Clank is bound to work here), as well as dune buggies and raptor-style lizard transportation.
Indeed, judging by noises coming from the US this week, Jak III will be treading much familiar ground despite a few new ideas - not that we mind. Missions we've heard about include one where you have to hunt down six lizards (perhaps recalling some of the Lurker fetch quests in Jak II), negotiate sewers and forests, and work your way around underground mine levels - including one which involves whacking a few rats on the head and then setting them up inside treadmills to help extend a bridge. There's also talk of what sounds suspiciously like a mine cart level, in which Jak has to shoot switches to clear a path for a runaway explosives cart; and a Smuggler's Run style dune buggy collect-'em-up bit, complete with skiddy desert handbrake turns and some mounted gun antics.
This time out, Jak can also expect to wield four weapons - each with three power levels, including a rifle with a new 360-degree fire mode - and, as mooted last month, Jak's eco powers have been upgraded, allowing him to transform into the angelic Light Jak, complete with healing powers and wings that lets him glide around briefly.
On the whole it sounds like another healthy slice of third person platforming action, and seems to be living up to expectations - in other words it's another collection of disparate but similarly controlled gameplay elements cleverly intertwined via an amusing and cartoony story, and built on marginally improved technology. The only slightly concerning thing we've heard so far is that Jak III will reportedly wrap up the current story (which ties in neatly with reports that this is the final Jak title), leaving us rather worrying what we'll get up to next Christmas. We should know for sure either way following E3 next month, when the game is strongly tipped to be one of the big playable titles on Sony's stand. We'll be on hand to check it out.