Jak X: Combat Racing
And you thought we were making it up...
Preview by Chris Bahn (Email)
September 23rd 2005
The Basics: There comes a time in every platformer's life when its thoughts change from fanciful world-saving and item collecting, to the more glamorous world of...kart racing. For Naughty Dog's Jak franchise, it's about that time; however, with Jak X: Combat Racing, things are going to go down a little differently. Gritty combat and speedy racing is the name of the game as Jak and his friends - and enemies - get behind the wheel for vehicular violence of the highest caliber. Featuring a wealth of extremely customizable vehicles, upgradeable weapons with unique abilities, huge tracks and the kind of reckless speed that's usually seen in a Burnout or Wipeout game, it's clear from the second you strap in and get ready to roll that this isn't your average mascot racer.
Naughty Dog made sure not to skimp on the play modes either; the single-player Adventure and Exhibition Modes make things fun when you're going solo, and both offline and online split-screen multiplayer modes for up to 6 racers make for a great time whenever you feel like mayhem en masse. A multitude of different race types allow for variety and ensure that things are always fresh when you're at the controls.
What do we think? Having played a demo build of the game, I've got to say...this game's on track to become an ace in the PS2's racing stable, no doubt. The game wows right off the bat with its looks. The character/vehicle detail and animation is excellent, the backgrounds and environments are colorful, varied and vast, and the visuals in general manage to get the Jak feel exactly right - cartoony, but quite a bit more serious than the typical mascot romp. The controls and gameplay are tight, which is a plus considering you'll need your reflexes to be on point when the really hard races begin.
The track design is really interesting; it seems that they're designed explicitly to encourage you not to just stay on the road, which is pretty cool. Going off-road to find shortcuts, cut corners, or wreck opponents with surprise attacks is not only encouraged, it's essential to getting good at the game. If the number of unlockable vehicles isn't impressive already, the sheer amount of stuff you can customize your vehicle with is sick; you've got the basic upgrades to improve your speed, handling, acceleration and the like, but you also get things to accessorize with as well. All the tuning in the world won't mean anything if your ride doesn't look totally fly, right? Seriously...you never know how important the Clank face on your car's antenna is until you slap it on and go for broke.
Awesome graphics, lightning-fast racing, manic multiplayer...it's all in here in spades. Jak X: Combat Racing should be nothing but good times when it drops in late October.