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Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2) artwork

Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2) review


"Shadow of the Colossus (2005), informal sequel to Sony Computer Entertainment's previous masterpiece, Ico. AKA "Wander and the Colossus" in Japan. Wander is the name of the hero, yeah, pretty weird huh? Ha ha. "



Shadow of the Colossus (2005), informal sequel to Sony Computer Entertainment's previous masterpiece, Ico. AKA "Wander and the Colossus" in Japan. Wander is the name of the hero, yeah, pretty weird huh? Ha ha.

Your girlfriend is in a coma and the most logical thing for you to do is go to the forbidden land of light and kill the sacred beasts in order to have your girlfriend brought back. Sure, why not? Love is a powerful thing, and no hero or anti-hero will be stopped by some pesky collosi. That's right, collosi. The core gameplay found in SotC is in fighting massive Collosi with the regular arsenal of sword, bow and arrow and faithful steed, Agro. But first you have to climb on them, which is viewed as the puzzle solving aspect in the game by many. Once you figure out how to climb up their crotches, or flaps of hanging bearded flesh, you must find their weak spot and stab, stab, stab, while holding on for your life.

Ah, yes, climbing. Wander's climbing ability is top notch (yes, that's right, his name is Wander.) He'll latch onto any kind of latchable surface super-readily if you're holding the R1 button. The HUD is minimal in the game, you have your strength circle, which depletes while hanging onto things, or as you're underwater or use strength to stab with your sword. Then you got a life bar that can be regenerated by kneeling and catching your breath. Be careful though, getting stepped on by a colossi is instant death, buster! *something you must experience with this game, heh heh*

The game is sound in technical terms, I assure you. The overworld is HUGE. Think Ocarina of Time's overworld, but probably 4 or 5 times larger, and with tons of different landscape to boot. The other thing about the overworld is there are no enemies whatsoever, it is truly a holy land. This fact really sets SotC apart from other games these days, filled with senseless violence and enemies around every corner for you to whack down into respawn oblivion. It's kind of mystifying. How can I say this... the deliberation of having an enemy-less, massive overworld, is something truly artistic in this game. If you so pleased, you could just wander the world on your horse and just collect your thoughts, maybe look for a scenic place or view while you're at it. You can breathe the air the game is made from, so to speak, the area is so spacey. I would say I like searching for the colossi, as much as I like fighting them. The graphics appear fairly grainy at times, but I like to think of it as a stylistic touch, really, the game itself resonates in its form.

Oh yeah, watching the colossi fall on their face is another reason for you to experience this game. There are multiple flying colossi, there are a couple waterbound colossi, and then a bunch of land roving, cave dwelling colossi. 16 of 'em, total. My favorite battle is one where you're pitted against a humungous flying sandworm over a vast dune. Once you get him to come down close enough, you have to speed alongside of him on your horse, and leap onto his fur and hang on. The first time I did this and was taken into the sky with the beast, I was amazed. Other moments like this really define the tango with the collosi in this game. But you've gotta play this game to experience the surprises of the other colossi for yourself!

The soundtrack is orchestral, emotive, and deliberate. Doesn't fail in any sense. There is a normal, and a hard mode upon first completion. Also added is a time attack mode to unlock some new unlockables such as brown or white Agro, or the beam sword from Ico, some other minor things. Nothing really compelling to work towards in terms of unlockables, but there is stuff available to people who want to get more out of their game. I've beat the game twice now on normal and hard, coming in with about 20 hours combined total playing time. I'm definetely going to be coming back to this title again, sometime, and taking down the colossi once more. A sweet experience, not to be missed by people who own the famed PS2. The game is now out of print. Small touches in this game also add to it's allure: you can hang onto hawks that fly over you for a while, you can stand on your horse while riding it and shoot your bow and arrow at the same time. There's a secret garden that is accessable by climbing the main temple for about five minutes, where you can eat the "forbidden fruit." You can also taunt colossi and view where they are in relation to you by pressing square if Agro isn't around.

The camera options are just wonderful. There's a zoom button (R2), and the right analog lets you move the camera around typically in all directions depending on where you're facing, you can also look around by having Wander physically look left and right and the camera shows Wander turning his head, with the view on the screen corresponding. I should also mention you can move the camera during cutscenes a little bit.

I give this one a 9 out of 10.

With a game like Shadow of the Colossus, I really find it hard to ask for more when what was presented seems so meaningful. I also share this philosophy with gaming in general. If a game bestows something already fun and deserving of proper merit, is it our prerogative to automatically demand more or desire aspects of a game to be changed? Well, I think sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But with a game like Shadow of the Colossus, I have my hands behind my back and I'm bowing to the creators of an authentic, well-produced, original piece of gaming software. I would give this game a 10 if the replay value was higher, unfortunatly, it's kind of low due to all that you can do. But the replay value I think will stretch over a long period of time after it's conception when the player comes back again after few years, maybe? For the ill-sacred quest of Wander, and the magnificent land of light and space.

Rating: 9/10

Aquas's avatar
Community review by Aquas (December 21, 2007)

Aquas is an STG fanatic, score-chaser and arcade lover. He hosts the Shooting Game Weekly on Youtube, a show that goes in depth on various shmups with passionate fans of the genre. Favorite video game: EarthBound.

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