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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.
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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.
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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.
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Being the prequel...or is it sequel to Ico (one of my all time favourite games - see my review), I was really looking forward to this but something held me back which was why I only bought it recently.

Sadly, my instincts were right and I was very disappointed with it, mainly due to the poor controls and gameplay. Unlike say Tomb Raider, where you jump onto a ledge and Lara hangs there all day until you release, with SOTC you have to hold the button down to actually stay on the colossi, then release and jump to progress upwards. Doing this on a moving colossi with iffy camera angles is frustrating and ultimately not much fun. Get to the top and misjudge and you're back on the ground getting trampled. When you do make it to the weak spot, basically you just stab and stab which isn't very enjoyable, but nor is the alternative of shooting your pretty feeble arrows.

Riding the horse is not as much fun as it sounds either, once you've worked out which direction you're meant to be going of course. The mounting and dismounting is just plain clumsy. This game has neither the charm or soul of Ico, is frustrating to play, and overall was a poor gaming experience for me. In it's defence, it looks the part, the scenery is fantastically rendered but beauty is only skin deep.
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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...
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on 3 October 2014
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.

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.

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.
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on 9 August 2017
I disliked Shadow of the Colossus: it's like a game with everything removed apart from the end of level boss battles. I imagine the makers thought they ought to capitalise on the popularity of Ico, but then couldn't maintain any interest in it. I quickly lost interest in playing it.
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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.
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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!
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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)
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