RELEASED: October 18, 2005
AVAILABLE ON: PS2, PS3 [Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Classics HD]
DEVELOPER(S): Team Ico, Bluepoint Games (PS3)
PUBLISHER(S): Sony Computer Entertainment
Shadow of the Colossus went into development in 2002 under the working title of Nico - "Next Ico" - and it was intended to be unleashed as a sequel to their still quite obscure debut, soon to be cult Ico. In time, Fumito Ueda made it clear that he didn't want to make sequels, so the game quickly began to take a whole different form from its "predecessor" - another just as minimalistic, but much more straightforward game with the simplest of goals. There's a whole new story that could easily be linked to that of Ico, but the connecting strands could be spotted by the players themselves - the development team didn't force any direct connections to their first-born. A small team of 35 people got Shadow of the Colossus on North American and Japanese shelves by the end of October 2005, and this time, they had both a critical and commercial success on their hands. Praised for its unique gameplay outline and awesome audiovisuals, Shadow of the Colossus is widely considered one of the best video games in the world. I liked it when it came out, but I didn't appreciate it, as ironic as it sounds. Let's see if time's been kind to my ability to judge... and of course, to the game.
Killer of giants
|See that crap on his club? That's you.|
Previously on VGMania...
If you read the Ico review, let's save the recap and go straight to business. Since I talked a lot about Shadow of the Colossus in the last review, it's safe to think that this little speech is about Ico, but the truth is I never played Ico before the HD collection came along, despite all the praise and my sudden realization that the game had strong ties to Shadow of the Colossus. This is a story about that HD collection, and how it ended up in my hands.
So, I gave up my copy of the original Shadow of the Colossus, and as always, I've regretted parting with it - just as I regret parting with subpar games such as Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and Blood Omen 2. I'm a collector, and Shadow of the Colossus' packaging really wasn't from the most typical end of a standard commercial release - but that was pretty much the only reason for me to regret parting with it, for the longest time. Well, then I met a girl. We both have a strong passion for games, only she's a PC nerd and we still have arguments that are about PC vs. consoles. (Back in the day, those arguments ended a little bit differently, if you catch my drift.) If she liked a console game, it had to be GOOD. Better than GOOD, capitally AWESOME. She played some games that were exclusive to consoles with a bitter smile, but Shadow of the Colossus was a game she truly wanted me to have. She had a glint in her eye when she spoke of Shadow of the Colossus. When I told her that I actually used to have the game, but I gave it away, that glint turned into a blue flame. So, the next time we were at GameStop, she bought me the HD collection of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the full price of fifty. What's a man to do but to play the game?
|Barf bags ready.|
Shadow of the Colossus' original release nearly coincided with the launch of the Xbox 360, and the European release came out about a year before the expected halt in the production of PlayStation 2 games - which was quite damn far off, actually, as you all know. Anyway, Shadow of the Colossus was slated to be one of the last big games of the PS2, and with that in mind, the developers went all the way with how they originally envisioned the game: minimalistic design, epic proportions. Just like Ico. When the game starts, you surely won't expect to see one of the most visually stunning PS2 games, but when the first boss passes you by with his extremely heavy feet, the truth reveals itself. Team Ico went all in with the colossi. As a friend of mine would put it: this looked good on the PS2, but imagine playing the HD version on the PS3, in stereoscopic 3D, from a 48" screen. THAT'S something else, I hear. The variety in characters is still the very same - there are only three central characters, apart from the corpse that sets the whole plot in motion, and the voiceover work can't really be judged by one who doesn't understand a word they're saying. Which would be just about everyone, since even though the spoken language sounds like Japanese, it's entirely fictional. Like Icoish or something. The music is just outlandish - epic as hell. It might start to get on your nerves if you've been spending the last hour just trying to make it past your opponent's ass to his lower back, but that's a flaw we will discuss in another context.
|I would definitely not like to see your momma.|
|Back off, dude. I have a knife.|
...But I digress, 'cause after you get over the controls, you'll find a pretty good game. I say pretty good in contrast to a million other gamers' "OMG SOTC!!!111", 'cause as satisfying as it can be to tread carefully from one hole in the Earth to another to see what lurks in it - and kill it (with fire?) - I still sincerely consider Shadow of the Colossus one of the most overrated games there ever was, and that over a half of its high level of challenge comes from lacking controls and Wander's artful incompetence. This game was not made to please everyone - even at the risk of being the only outcast who never saw the entire greatness of the game, I refuse to give it any charity.
+ The audiovisuals
+ The colossi
+ The unique concept and the surprising fact that it actually works
- Controls, both on foot and horseback
- The size of the environment can turn against you
- The slow tempo and the main character's "fascinating incompetence" ain't for everyone - including me
< 7.8 >