Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   astragon games

Publisher:  Deck 13 Interactive

Released:  June 2013

PC Requirements:   see review below

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough





by gremlin


What is it?

Pirates? More pirates? And what's more, a sequel about pirates? What's with the games industry and this constantly re-treading ... uh, hold on a minute, why don't we actually try playing the new game before getting on the high horse and ranting away like another broken record? Sheesh! These games reviews really seem to be struggling to write anything new these days, and all they want to do is repeat the same old same old... eeek!

Anyway, now where was I? Oh yes, Jack Keane 2 - the Fire Within is here. This is a sequel to Jack Keane, a game I played back in 2007, and whilst the plot and some of the characters were in the previous game, there is no need to have solved Jack's previous conundrums concerning Dr T to play the new game. Both games were published by Deck 13 Interactive, from Germany, but this time, the game is available via Steam as well as a number of other sources. (The original game is on Steam now, but it wasn't back in 2007).

Is there a plot?

Jack's done it again. He's in trouble with the law, and this time they caught up with him, and dumped him in the massive fortified prison that is Shanghai Island Prison. But, as luck would have it, Amanda is closing in on the island with a plan for his rescue. The only problem is that her crew are not exactly International Rescue! Things start to go wrong very quickly.

In the mean time, Jack discovers that his cell-mate is a shaman of Ukumba; a great treasure that must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately, Jack's cell mate passes away before the full secret of its location can be passed on. So now Jack has two problems - decipher the clues from the shaman and escape from Shanghai Island... and he has to beat Skullcrusher the ummm... wrestler? cage-fighter? beast?

The story will take you around the globe: through conflict in China, industrial action in Germany, and confusion in North Africa. And there will be help and hindrance in equal measure from the wildlife, the new people and the well-known (at least if you played Jack Keane), the environment, and technology - always one of Jack's staunchest allies.

How do you play?

Jack Keane 2 is a point and click adventure, with the usual mix of keyboard controls mixed in. Most of the time, the mouse is completely sufficient, but the movement keys are needed when things get a little more fiddly. The environments in which you play are quite open 3D locations, however the story is quite linear. You can't really change the order in which things take place as you mostly have one objective to solve at a time. There are a few places where you have choices of where to go on a map, but even then, there's really only one puzzle at a time that will actually progress the game. The effect, of course, is that the game is very heavily plot driven, which is just fine, because the plot is an entertaining story.

As with most games of this type, there are points in the story where you give up control for a cut-scene. Almost all of these are rendered in the game engine, not as separate animations, so the switch back to you being in control is almost seamless.

The main menu is just what you'd expect: Continue game, Start new game, Load game, Settings, Credits, Quit. Nothing surprising there. Once you're in the game, you get a small menu panel in the top left corner of the screen with buttons for Save (a pen), Examine (a magnifying glass), Jump (a spring), Main Menu (a wheel), Highlight objects (a light bulb), and your current objective (a book). Most of those also have hot-keys. For example, Jack will jump if you hit the space bar. I didn't find the object highlighter of much use in the game as most of the time, the objects you can pick up are pretty obvious. I would have found it more helpful if it had been a more general Hotspot finder, but it's not.

Jack's inventory (or Amanda's when you're playing as her) is a list of icons across the top of the screen. You can right click to examine items (sometimes this will modify them), and you can click and drag items onto the main scene, or combine them to make new ones. Your inventory is never more than six or seven objects, and often just one or two.

There's quite a lot of talking going on in Jack Keane 2, and for once, the conversation options you choose actually have a bearing on how certain relationships turn out in the game. I've only played the story emphasizing one particular direction in those choices, so I don't know how it turns out if you play the other way (or balance the two more carefully).

The other significant part of the game play is the fighting. Now I don't mean a scare-the-horses, first-person, rail-gun toting, alien-fest. It's more of a turn-based, reactive sort of thing. Jack's opponent (and it's always Jack doing the fighting) will start a move in slow motion, and you have to select a response from the 'playing cards' shown at the bottom of the screen. You have about 10 seconds to choose, or your opponent will knock you down. Jack can only take one or two hits before being defeated. If you chose the correct defense against the attack, Jack is allowed to chose a responding attack to try to knock his opponent down. Again, you chose a card from the available set, and you have about 10 seconds to choose. A number of the fights rely on Jack being defeated, and then going off and learning a new move that will prove to be the key to beating a particular opponent. Thankfully, 10 seconds is longer than it sounds, and the cards are quite readable, and of a decent size, so the only difficult part of the fighting scenes is knowing what the correct response is to each starting manoeuvre; the selection of starting manoeuvre might be random, but the correct response is always consistent, it's just a question of whether Jack actually knows the correct response yet.

Notable Features

The design style of Jack Keane is maintained in this sequel - lush vegetation, bold cartoon-style scenes, detailed machinery, good character animation. The look of the game is very well expressed in the box and web-site art.

The voice acting is good, to very good. Even the gorilla! The rest of the sound-track is suitably swash-buckling and piratical.

Any other novelties?

The movement system in Jack Keane 2 is, um, a little odd. You can mostly point and hold the mouse button down and Jack runs towards the mouse, except when Jack needs to jump up or over things, which doesn't fit very well with the 'holding the mouse down to move' control mechanic. You can also use the W, A, S, and D keys, with the space key to jump instead, but the frame of reference for the motion with the keys was odd too - sometimes it seemed relative to Jack's orientation, and at other times, relative to the scene.


Make sure, whatever you do, that you update your PC's video drivers to the latest available from your supplier, and ensure you have the most up to date version of Jack Keane 2 as well (easy if you use Steam, because they'll do it for you) because the initial release, via Steam in particular, had a show stopper of a bug which meant that the frame rate (speed of animation) was atrocious, rendering play impossible. Once that's dealt with, however, the rest of the game is reasonably slick.

I found movement clunky at times, as I've already described, and I fell through the world once towards the end of the game; always a disconcerting feeling, so I cannot say that Jack Keane 2 is a technical tour de force. But for the most part it was fine - there were no dead ends, intolerably small hotspots, colour or sound distinguishing puzzles, nor any mazes.

I played the Steam version of Jack Keane 2, but there are no achievements for the game, which is something a little different from most games on Steam. I feel that achievements don't make a great deal of sense in the basically linear format of most point-n-click adventure games, but some do seem to make it work. However, in the case of this game, I think Deck 13 (the developers) were thinking of the bigger picture than just the Steam platform.


Overall, I did enjoy playing Jack Keane 2 for what I think are the right reasons - the story was entertaining, and playing Amanda and Eve off against one another, whilst it could have been further developed with deeper consequences, did provide some entertainment. The characters do make some discoveries about themselves over the course of the narrative, but the writing won't be being nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature any time soon. The depth of character exploration is closer to that of the Back to the Future movies, but hey, who cares, this is swash-buckling, cage-fighting, pirate-sequel gaming, not Nabokov!

Grade: B

What do you need to play it?

Minimum Requirements

OS: Windows XP (32 bit)/Vista/7/8 (32/64 bit)

Processor: Intel Pentium IV @ 2.8 GHz or comparable processor with SSE3

Memory: 2 GB RAM

Graphics: NVidia GeForce 8600 GT / ATI Radeon HD X1800 or better (DirectX 9.0c), with minimum 256MB RAM and Shader 3.0 support.

Hard Drive: 3584 MB HD space

Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Additional: mouse, keyboard

Recommended Requirements over the minimum

Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo @ 2.6 GHz or comparable processor with SSE3

Memory: 3 GB RAM

Graphics: NVidia GeForce 9800 GT / ATI Radeon HD 4850 or better

(I used a home-built 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium (SP1) PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+ processor, with 6 GB RAM, and a Sapphire Radeon HD4670 512MB video card, with on-mother-board, built-in sound card)


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