on 23 March 2006
Shadow of the Colossus is the second game to come from Sony's Studio 1, the same team responsible for 2001's cult hit ICO. Whilst the jury is still to whether this is a sequel or a prequel to ICO, it can be seen as its spiritual successor as both games share a similar style, theme and control dynamic.
SOTC begins with a cut scene portraying the journey of Wanda, our main character, on the back of his sturdy steed Agro. The landscape Wanda must traverse is flanked by deep chasms, towering mountains, he passes through a dense forest which gives way to reveal a expansive bridge, leading to a lofty shrine in the middle of an ancient cursed land. In the shrine we discover that Wanda is not the only burden that Agro has had to bear. He also carries the body of a girl, Mono, who has a 'cursed fate' as she has been sacrificed for unknown reasons. Wanda takes the lifeless body of Mono and lays her on an altar. We discover that Wanda has travelled to these cursed lands after stealing the body of Mono and a powerful 'ancient sword' in an attempt to restore Mono to life. What stands in Wanda's path to his objective are 16 giant creatures scattered throughout the capacious land: The Colossi.
At this point control is handed over and Wanda sets out with Agro, guided by his magic sword to find his first Colossus. These huge lumbering beasts are the main attraction in this game. Most totally dwarf Wanda, and the prospect of attempting to take them down armed only with a sword and a bow is an intimidating one. But Wanda does have other tricks up his sleeve; At times the environment can be utilised, and Agro can also be an essential companion in your fight. The Colossi take on many forms, most are bipedal, some are aerial, and a couple of battles take place in water. They are armoured creatures, some bear weapons and they will normally attack you on sight. Each of the Colossi have a different weakness and each battle generally involves trying to find ways to climb onto the Colossus, and then searching that weakness. After each battle Wanda becomes infused with the dark wraith-like essence of the Colossus and is transported by to the central shrine, ready to set out again to search for another Behemoth.
Visually the SOTC is an amazing achievement. The character models of the Colossi are well rendered and animated, but probably the most amazing achievement is the landscape that provides the backdrop for Wanda's quest. The area of the wastelands is enormous with a draw distance that stretches as far as the virtual eye can see. The look and animation of Wanda and Agro are also very fluid and realistic and they somehow invokes memories of the original Prince of Persia. The general pallet of the game is subdued, with washed out greens and browns providing most of the spectrum. There are also some pretty neat light glare and heat haze effects. But this is on the PS2, it is 5 year old technology and the strains are starting to show. Textures can appear flat and lacking in detail up close, and at times the frame rate can suffer as the PS2 tries to keep up.
SOTC sound design is also quite strong. The roars and stomps of the Colossi provide them with a great sense of weight, and the stabbing 'splut' sound has Wanda jabs the monsters with his sword is extremely satisfying. The score feels grand and epic with sweeping chorales and rousing orchestration that provides the perfect background for these colossal battles.
There is an ambiguity in SOTC which instils a sense of emotional empathy with Wanda. Wanda is simply told where to go, much like you as the player, but he is never given a reason why the Colossi should be killed. And the Colossi themselves, although they are aggressive when they become aware of you, they are passively minding their own business when you find them. You/Wanda are the aggressor. Half way though the game I found myself asking, 'who is the bad guy here?'. Additionally it is not clear who Mono and Wanda are, what their relationship is, and why she was sacrificed. And the majority of the story is related in the first five minutes before you pick up a controller. What this provides you with is a blank canvas for you to paint your own emotional background, your personal experience with this game will colour it.
It also should be noted that SOTC is quite short. Completing it for the first time can take only about 10 hours. There is some replay value though, as completing it unlocks alternative game modes such as a time attack mode, and a hard mode. This is a game that is easily recommendable to anyone with an interest in the action adventure or environmental puzzle games, but whilst SOTC cannot be described as 'adult' in the same way as the GTA franchise it is definitely a 'mature' game, so it may be unsuitable for young children. Not because of anything offensive, but if this was a movie, it would be a French art house movie on Channel 4 at 3 o'clock in the morning. With giant monsters of course.
on 22 February 2006
This is my game of year, in the same way that ICO stopped me from playing MGS2 stone dead, this game has got to me in a very real sense. The story as you've probably read countless time is about our hero's struggle to resurect a girl and standing in his way are the Colossi. These are 16 of the biggest most wonderfully created creatures I've ever seen.
I am currently on my 12th colossi and loving every bit from the exploration (look out for the desert). I'am told the ending somthing very special indeed.
Well done to sony and team ico this is by far the essential purchase of 2006.
on 18 April 2006
Shadow of the Collosus is a original concept for a game, which is quite a rare thing these days. The game has you riding accross a huge landscape on horse back, guided by sunlight reflected off your magical sword. You must find and destroy 16 massive beasts which roam this massive land. Why? To revive a dead girl. And repeat. You follow the same routine for each and every collosi, with no other foes inbetween, which is just as well. If the developers would have tagged on some enemies inbetween the main battles it just would have been an unneccessary diversion and would have fractured the pace of things.
Dont expect the game landscape to be anything like, say, San Andreas for example. It is huge,yes, but your not going to be compelled to explore every nook and cranny of this environment.
It can be a pain to find the collosi too, you are often led to sheer cliff faces or immpassible gorges and get lost in this enormous world which can be a chore to get out of. Your trusty steed is a joy to ride and feels like you are actually riding a horse.
The game really comes alive when you eventually come across one of the various collosi, which range from massive lumbering, hairy trolls, to giant birds and smaller bull sized terrors. You somehow have to mount these beasts, which is where some of the puzzling elements come into the game. For example you might have to scale some ruins and jump onto the collosuses' sholders from above. You then have to grip on for dear life unless you will fall off for sure. The collosi have various weak points dotted around their bodies which wou must stab to kill the collosi. When you see one of these magnificent beasts falling heavily to the geound with bone crunching force, dead, you actually feel sorry for them and you actually question yourself about killing your enemy. How many video games make you feel like that?
There are some slight gripes though, like getting lost in the huge world (the horrifficly bad map doesn't help things) the controlls feel alien at first (but you soon warm to them) and the frame rate makes the game look jumpy from time to time. Oh, and the last collosi (without wanting to reveal too much) is a an absolute nighmare to defeat, with a hugely fiddly section where you have to climb on its hands. Be warned.
Overall, in a market which is dominated by gritty urban tripe like the utter rubbish 50 cent bulletproof, its nice to leave behind the drab, grey, urine soaked, carbord box inhabited alleyways. Its nice to say "save it for another day, homie" and wave good by to modded up sports cars and sweary "adult" cutscenes and a cast of cliched characters who no one even cares about. Dont get me wrong, San Andreas is my all time favorite game, but isnt it nicer, for once, to play a beautiful magestic labour of love? And not some second rate unoriginal GTA clone? I think so.
on 17 April 2006
If you played Ico, then you may have noticed the passivity of the gormless princess that you had to tow around the game. In Shadow of the Colossus that passivity is increased to extent that she lies on a stone slab for the duration of the game. She makes the drippy heroines of Dickens look like Lara Croft.
That quibble aside, the star of SOC is the landscape. This is sumptuously realised and beautifully illuminated weathered limestone tract that you explore on an obedient horse.The gameplay is unique, a combination of puzzles (how do I get to the weak spot on this mountain-sized monster?) and good old-fashioned sword wielding fantasy violence.
And when every Colossus has bitten the dust, there are the layers of extended play and challenges to keep you coming back, and the family asking questions like 'I thought you already played this one?'
This is game that shows maturity has come just in time for the PS2 before its descendent arrives.
on 20 April 2006
Shadow of the colossus is a game like no other. Think of any game you've played and it will not be simlilar to this game. Basically you are a boy/teenager/man i don't really know but anyway. You have a dead girlfriend and to revive her a voice from the heavens tells you you have to slay 16 colossi. And these things are BIG.
Graphics: Stunning. The landscape is awesome. A particular place where i noticed this is when i was riding across a land bridge to find colossus 2. And WOW. The view was stunning! You have to see it becuase I'm not going to tell you what it looks like! The only gripe I have with is that close up the characters can look blocky.
Sound: This is again, brilliant. Its context sensitive. This means that when you wander around looking for the colossus its all silent (adding to the feel that its you alone in isolation) but when you are fighting the colossus its goes all powerful and orchestral. Then finally when the skyscraper sized monster comes crashing down it brings in some sad music.
Gameplay: Although riding around can be tedious (although with the best horse animations ever!) the battles with the colossus are spectacular. I love the feeling of 'how am i supposed to kill that?' and then the huge 'AHAH!'. A word of warning though. The first colossus may seem underwhelming.
Originality: Honestly? Did you read the start of my review?
Learning curve: The controls and dodgy jumping physics can take a bit of getting used to but the game is not too easy or hard.
Lifespan: Quite a long game but not much replay value.
Overall: AWESOME GAME! BUY IT NOW!! That is... if you have some time on your hands...
on 3 October 2014
S T O R Y
You play as Wander, a young boy from a distant village, who has come to a forbidden land to perform a special ritual. Wander has brought a girl along with him, whom he must perform the ritual on in order to save her life. The forbidden land holds Dormin, a powerful spirit that can bring the dead back to life. However Dormin's spirit has become fractured into 16 entities in the forms of giant Colossi, leaving it up to Wander to destroy each of these and save the girl.
The story is powerful, emotionally driven and gives the protagonist unparalleled depth. It is the bond between Wander and his trusted horse, Agro, which really pulls at the heart strings.
G R A P H I C S & S O U N D
The scope of SOTC's world is a remarkable achievement. The forbidden land is vast, yet, it simultaneously showcases barren and ancient locations. The level design is smart, presenting players with plenty of empty land, and then flipping that on its head when introducing the lairs of the Colossi. The architecture takes inspiration from Aztec and Native American influence, presenting striking designs and towering structures.
The art direction is beautiful, utilising a number of pastel-like colours to paint the land. The Colossi are the stars of the show when it comes to the character models. These giant beasts are immaculately designed from head to toe, ranging from water creatures, to aerial threats and land- based savages. The soundtrack is excellent, filled with suspense, poignancy and feeling.
G A M E P L A Y
SOTC is essentially an experience filled with boss battles. Players will have to defeat all 16 Colossi, but this is far from easy as these beasts present complex challenges to overcome. Players will be based at a temple, which is filled with statues of all the Colossi. Dormin will give instructions on where to find each beast, and you go hunting along with Agro for some much needed transport assistance. The Colossi are scattered all over the land, but they are relatively easy to find.
When engaging a Colossus in battle, the experience is just a pure thrill ride. Each Colossus acts as a large platforming tower, which the player will have to climb and find the creature's weak spot(s). This isn't as simple as it sounds, since Wander's hold strength is limited, which will cause him to fall off the beast. Many of the Colossi will require completely different strategies. Wander's sword will do plenty of damage, but he also has a bow to shoot distant enemies. In some cases the Colossi will use aggression and speed to take the fight to you, whereas others use the environment to attack you. Each battle is intense, always throwing danger at you and making you realise that these things can kill you in a flash if you aren't careful.
There are no other enemies in the game, which does leave little else to do. However, it is just so easy to become engulfed by the environments when riding Agro. He is very easy to manoeuvre and mastering his lightening speed will become most handy when going up against many of the Colossi. There are collectibles scattered across the land, a Time Attack mode is sure to test your lust for carnage, and an additional difficulty mode if you truly feel like being punished.
The platforming elements of the game are undoubtedly fun, but the camera can be a little stubborn upon movement and occasionally presents awkward angles.
O V E R A L L
SOTC is a unique experience. The story is engrossing, the visuals are a technical splendour and the gameplay just builds momentum right through until the end. Wander and Agro have brought an unforgettable and memorable journey to the gaming world.
on 9 August 2006
With the PS2's life coming to an end, I was expecting developers to churn out average titles to kill time till the PS3's release. Shadow of the Colossus had a lot of hype behind its name with help from the under rated cult classic Ico. So having played Ico i was psyced to see the developers had made another game. To start, this is one of the greatest games iv ever played and easily the best game for me in 2006 (resident evil 4 just misses out) However a game that is so critically acclaimed is surprisingly not mainstream at all. SOTC is for a very unique audience, this game wont appeal to everyone. Some say the game lacks action and has too much exploration but that very feature is what some gamers find so fresh and appealing about this great game.
The game is set in a desolate wasteland that is inhabited by by towering creatures called "Colossi". Along comes the hero of the game, a nameless traveller known as "Wander" which is derived from his japanese name. On horseback he arrives with a cloaked body who he later places in a shrine in a castle he finds in this wasteland. The girls' body lies their lifeless, and a haunting voice gives the player the quest of slaying the 16 colossi that wonder these lands and the girl could possibly be revived. This is where the game begins...
Only armed with your bow and sword as well as your trusted horse Agro, the player sets out to find and slay one by one these colossi. The game really gives you a lonely feel with the atmosphere it creates as world you explore is so empty. However this game has no levels, The colossi are the levels. Another great technique that this games employs is the whole "do with what you got" when you slay a colossi, you really feel a sense of accomplishment thinking "wow i only had a sword and a bow".
The music is some of the best iv herd in a game for a long time and really suits the intense battles with colossi and also the more serene exploration moments of the game. The music changes from thunderous orchestral fast paced, dramatic music, to calm and melodic flutes.
Graphically this game has some stunning visuals and at times when your fighting a colossi you think to your self that this kinda game could only run on the 360. The colossi look awsome and the way they've been animated really gives you a sense of their size and weight. They range from regular human like colossi to flying colossi and even amphibious colossi. Each design is just oozes originality.
The game eases you into the style of play from the first colossi. The controls take about 30 minutes getting used to at most, but work well. Each colossi has to be scaled and then stabbed in its weak spot to kill it, thats the general idea from Colossi number one. However the game then begins to vary the game play making you have to first think how to get onto the colossi, this sometimes involves having to use your enviroment to aid you. Then you have to figure out where the vital spots are, the first colossi only has 1 but then the game starts throwing in multiple weak spots. This technique adds depth to the game.
Writing a review for a game like this is hard because to be honest, there isnt much to it. You find a colossi and slay it, but the amount of depth there is to doing it makes this such a unique game, and so i have to restrain my self from saying too much to avoid ruining what is a beautiful story line. I found my self watcihng my friends play, their jaws dropping to the flaw at every clossi they fought and all i could say was "just wait and see...." However i do reccommend you purchase and finish Ico to really get a good understanding of the story as they are loosely linked. As i said earlier this game isnt for everyone, but really it deserves to be played.
It really isnt a game but an experience.
on 10 July 2006
This is probably my all time favourite game! The game is beautiful as it is intense! The visuals are stunning and the Colossus beasts themselves make you feel tiny!
The landscape is so beatuiful, you wouldn't think that it was designed for a game! Riding around on your horse just feels so natural, the whole feeling is nothing that I've ever experienced in a game before.
I think a lot of people just don't know enough about the game to actually buy it so it struggles to really stand out on top.
The one complaint i do have with it, is that it ends a little too soon. But considering each beast will take you about half hour (at least!!) You'll get plenty of hours of play! But saying that, Once you complete it you get a chance to fight your favourite beasts again!
This game is a MUST HAVE! I can't describe enough how great this really is!
on 2 March 2006
If you're a person that has little patience, don't buy this game. If you're a person that likes to stick the disc in the machine, start a game and get straight into the action, don't buy this game. If you're a person that likes platform games with quirky characters or always buys the latest releases because everyone says they're good, don't buy this game.
Shadow of the Colossus (SOTC) is a landmark in gaming history. It is "nothing" like any other game, ever, period. It's clear from the mixed customer reviews that this game will be a cult classic as opposed to just a classic in the sense of the GTA series. Which is a shame, because all the effort that went into making this game means it deserves to be a true classic. This is intelligent gaming at it's finest. This isn't a hack & slash, tap the buttons as often as you can to win, try a 312-button-combo to beat the bad guy, pick up the best weapon there is to ensure victory type of game. No. This game captures your imagination like few others. Give this game time and it'll fill you with wonder. The landscapes you traverse in this game are truly magnificent and no other game in the history of the PS2 has ever created anything as remotely impressive as this and probably never will. SOTC pushes the boundaries of the PS2 to it's very limit. Part of the game is about travelling in this virtual world and hunting down the location of the Colossi. It's about enjoying the quirks of your horse, Agro and being amazed at how a computer generated image like this can seem to have such a lifelike personality. It's about being captured by the storyline and wondering where the end is headed (and believe me, the ending is fantastic). But at the end of the day, it's about the Colossi. Each one is the equivalent of a lesser games' end of level boss. Seeing them instils a fear in you. And bewilderment. You wonder how you can possibly defeat something their size. And you know what? Even though you might spend time working it out, once you do you'll soon realise that the answer to defeating them is utterly simple. And because of the amount of thought behind killing the Colossi, when you actually manage it, there's a great feeling of accomplishment. I don't want to give too much of this away, but needless to say, this is the best game I've played in years on any platform. Only the GTA series comes close in terms of scale and enjoyment, but make no mistake; Shadow of the Colossus is one of a kind. Love it or hate it.
(There's cracking secrets to unlock....if you stick with it)
on 11 August 2006
Shadow of the Colossus is an amazing game, brought to us by the same team who brought us ICO. It deserves to be played by anyone who owns a Playstation 2.
The story is as follows: Wander, the protagonist, (of whom you play) enters a forbidden land to reach a temple, where it is believed a mysterious power can help revive those who have died. Wander, who travels to this distant land on his trusty steed Agro, brings the deceased love of his life (Mono) with him, and upon reaching the temple, places her body on an altar. A disembodied voice emanating from a bright light in the ceiling explains to Wander that in order to revive the girl, he must destroy sixteen creatures, the Colossi, spread across the land. He is warned however, that the consequences of performing such an act may lead to terrible consequences. Wander doesn't care, and sets out to do anything it takes to bring back his beloved from the dead.
While the story is fairly basic, it is unveiled competently during the game via infrequent cut-scenes. I won't spoil anything, but the ending is possibly the longest video game ending I have ever seen. It's somewhat emotional and it's one of those endings that leaves you thinking, which is great.
The gameplay isn't too complex. You only have two weapons: a sword, and a bow. The sword has three main purposes, to lead you to the Colossi arenas (by holding it in the air and heading toward where the beams of light converge), to identify weak spots on the Colossi (again, by holding it in the air) and to deal damage to the Colossi by stabbing their weak points during the battles. The bow isn't used quite as much, and is normally used to attack certain weak points on the Colossi in order for you to progress further. You can move throughout the vast landscape by foot, but for the most part you travel by riding on your horse, Agro - and you may even find yourself getting quite attached to him. During a couple of boss fights, you have to be riding Agro at full speed in order to defeat the Colossi - these battles prove to be exhilarating experiences.
The focus of the game is purely the objective of defeating the sixteen Colossi - there are no other enemies. In most cases, the Colossi are hulking giants, although there are a few smaller Colossi, too. It's not clear whether they are mechanical or biological entities, or perhaps a mixture of both. Every Colossus has fur and the larger ones have platforms attached to their bodies as well; both of these enable you to clamber onto and around the beasts. Every Colossus is unique, and the fights take place in a variety of settings, such as on land, in water, in some ancient ruins, and even in the sky. Colossi are defeated by attacking their weak points, which are usually high up on their bodies. Some bosses are quite easy and don't take long to figure out how to defeat. With others, some lateral thinking is required; often you are required to take advantage of your environment in order to scale the Colossi to attack their weak points.
Graphically, the game is stunning, for the most part. This game squeezes every last drop of power from the PS2, and features some impressive effects such as HDR, Light Bloom, Motion Blur, and a huge Draw Distance. Every single Colossus is a work of art; beautifully animated and most of them are simply, well... colossal - the sense of scale is palpable. A few textures look a little indistinct close up, but that's to be expected with the PS2's age.
The orchestral score is used sparingly - it only plays during the battles and cut-scenes. However, it complements the game very well, and it is especially rousing to be climbing up a flailing Colossus, hanging on for dear life, with the music adding to the sense of urgency. The sound effects are decent enough and serve their purpose well.
There are a few niggles with the game. The two major ones are the dips in frame-rate and the camera angles. While the game looks beautiful, it clearly puts strain on the console. Frame-rate drops are quite noticeable but fortunately don't seem to seriously affect the gameplay. The other major issue is the automatic camera, which occasionally spins in the wrong direction giving you a poor view of the action when fighting a Colossus. While the camera can be rotated manually, it often spins back to a bad position afterwards. It's quite a rare problem however, so it isn't game-breaking.
Lesser issues include the control system and the game's length. While the controls can be picked up within an hour or two of play, they probably could be simpler. This isn't to say they are bad - they just aren't as intuitive as you might hope. Also, the game isn't too long. For most gamers it will probably take only 8-10 hours to complete, perhaps a little more if you like to take your time and explore the game world fully, or struggle to figure out strategies on some of the bosses. To be fair, the game offers some replay value after you complete it. A hard-mode is unlocked, as is a time-attack mode. These modes can be played to unlock items that improve your character on subsequent play-throughs.
Overall, these flaws cannot detract from what is a fantastic gaming experience. It's generally quite unlike any game you've ever played, although it perhaps in some ways resembles the Prince of Persia games, in that you will be spending a lot of time leaping from platforms and hanging from or shimmying around ledges. The boss battles offer a more cerebral challenge than you might otherwise be used to. If you're looking for something a little different, this game is it - and earns my seal of approval.