Review – Shadow of the Colossus HD – almost perfect

After finishing my play through of Ico, I was excited to get started on my journey in shadow of colossus. I was again immediately immersed in the game from the opening sequence that gave me the same intriguing feeling I got when I started Ico, unfortunately this romp did not end up as flawless as its former. Shadow of colossus tasks you with killing a number of giant colossi that are found around the land in order to resurrect a deceased female. It’s not pointed out exactly what the main characters relation is to the girl, only that he does have strong feelings for her, and wishes to bring her back from the life she lost after being sacrificed.
One of the most interesting decision made for this game is that fact that the only enemies you fight are the colossus. No random spawning minions, no Minor bosses, you traverse your way through the land and over various terrain to reach the location of the colossi, do battle, then it’s off to your next target. I really liked this aspect of the game, it cut through a lot of the filler and allowed the game to stay in a upswing as far as the action is concerned, but it’s also in the action where the game kind of fails. Unlike Ico, which was very puzzle heavy with limited combat, shadow is a pure action adventure game. The main protagonist is a sword wielding, horse riding, man on a mission, but the controls sometimes hamper the combat. While the controls are fairly simple, the ability to grab onto and hold yourself up are given their own command button. Pressing and holding r1 when you jump up on a ledge, or shimmy across a cliff keeps your character gripped on, let the button go, you fall. It doesn’t sound to hard, and as I played through the game I got use to it, but it never seemed to become second nature. A couple of times I found myself trying to jump up to a higher ledge screaming at the screen “why aren’t you grabbing the freaking edge”, only to remember this isn’t an automatic function anymore. It does serve a purpose beyond just making the controls more difficult. As you climb ledges, or the colossi you have to destroy, a meter depletes are you move around. Many of the difficulties you will have in killing the colossi is being able to hold on long enough to inflict damage, and knowing when you can let go in order to replenish some of your grip meter, as the colossi thrash about trying to get you off of their back. If your meter diminishes, you fall off whatever you are holding onto, and it’s back to the bottom of your climb.
Another issue I had with the control was the horse, it’s not really difficult to get him from place to place, but they decided to try and go with a more real life depiction of a horses movements, and how one is ridden, but that didn’t seem quite necessary to me in a world filled with giant monster beasts. If they would have given me a horse that controlled like a race car, I would have been happy.
These minor issues aside, the rest of the game is a blast. Hop on your horse from the temple which serves a central hub, using light reflecting off your sword to find the next colossus you must eliminate. Each colossi is marked with weak spots that you much reach by traversing the colossus’s body, or someway tricking the colossi so you can reach their weak spots. While it may sound like a task in repetition, the diversity in the different colossi, their environments, and how you reach the weak spots, keeps the various battles from getting boring. I did find at some points I was a little frustrated trying to figure out how to tackle the colossus, even with the assist of a ominous voice giving you a hint as to what you need to do, sometimes the hit wasn’t really helpful, but paying attention to the actions of the colossus, and the surroundings, should eventually spark a light in your brain and lead you to victory.

One other thing about this game, or rather something about what other people that have played it have said, I didn’t get the sense of sadness in conquering this titan beasts even though that seemed to be the consensus from most people. In fact, it felt great bringing these giants to their knees. While the sense of isolation in this land grew as you killed of the colossus one by one, I never felt saddened that they died, but concerned that the death of these colossus would bring about something more evil. Like they were put here for a reason, but either way, I had a great time killing them.

While not as flawless as Ico, because of the heavier focus on combat and action that wasn’t as precise as I wish it was, the game falters from being perfect, But it’s still one of the greatest adventures games you will play in this, or any other generation.


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