Shadow of the Colossus
Isilwen's Shadow of the Colossus Review
- Beautiful and epic graphics
- Mysterious yet engaging storyline
- Requires the player to think outside the box
- Unique and different approach to fantasy gaming. Not your standard hack and slash game.
- Realistic character animations and AI
- Doesn't take very long to complete
- No enemies to kill other than the 16 Colossi (may not be enough for some gamers)
- Locating the Colossi can be a bit confusing at times
- Battles can be a little frustrating
- Camera work can sometimes be awkward
"Tales speak of a distant place where creatures the size of mountains roam free. Bound to the land, these beasts hold the key to a mystical power - a power capable of bringing the departed back from the other side."
How far would you go to bring a loved one back from the dead? Shadow of the Colossus demonstrates one man's willingness to trade death for the life of another through sixteen boss battles on an epic scale.
The game begins with our hero Wanda, arriving at the Holy Land on his trusty horse Agro, carrying the body of a young woman in his arms. He has travelled to this strange land because he has heard tales and legends of a great power that resides in the temple which grants life to the deceased. As he places the lifeless body on the altar, a strange voice speaks to him from the heavens. The voice tells Wanda that there may be a way to bring his loved one back to life, but it will not come without cost. Sixteen beasts roam the land, beasts that if slain may grant the power to resurrect lost souls. Wanda knows what he must do and sets off on his journey. When all seems lost, there is always a way.
The main objective of Shadow of the Colossus is to locate and slay the sixteen Colossi that roam the land armed only with a sword and a bow. Sound boring and simple? Think again. Had this game been made by another team entirely, the premise could have fell flat on it's face and not worked at all. But Team Ico have taken a what may seem like a simple sounding premise and turned it into a stunning and engaging game.
As I said before, the main objective is to locate and kill the sixteen Colossi that inhabit the forbidden land. These are the only enemies you will fight in the game, in between slaying and travelling to each Colossi, you won't encounter anything but birds and lizards. You are equipped with a map to navigate the vast land but to actually locate a Colossi you must hold your sword up to the light which will create a beam pointing in the direction you must head. This method can get a little bit confusing at times as you may think you know where you're going, but due to mountains and forests getting in the way, the beam could be pointing to somewhere else entirely. It becomes easier and clearer once you get closer to your destination and it's not a big enough thing to actually ruin the experience for you.
It's a lonely experience travelling from beast to beast with your horse Agro but that's the beauty of the game. You feel tiny in the vast landscape and exploring it is a fun and solitary experience.
When you encounter each Colossi you must use your wits and the environment to your advantage to take them down. You will fight each beast in a different habitat ranging from vast deserts to deep lakes, a ruined Colosseum to a destroyed city. You will be able to take Agro with you and use him to aid you but sometimes you will go places where he cannot follow and must fight them alone.
The combat system is pretty simple but only once you work out how to kill the Colossi. Each monster has a different weakness and it's up to you to find out what it is. To find a weak spot you must hold your sword up to the light and the weak spot will be revealed. You must then find a way to climb the Colossi and stab at the weak spot with your sword until the Colossus falls or the weak point can inflict no further damage. You may have to find more than one.
Each Colossi represents a different challenge and you must look at each one differently. Some Colossi may be very aggressive and you will have to keep on the move whilst trying to locate the weak spots. Some however may be docile and will need provoking in order to engage battle.
If you are struggling to find a way to a specific weak point, after a certain amount of time, the voice from the temple will speak from the heavens and give you hints on how to beat the Colossus.
The controls in the game are clear and easy to get used to. Along with your health meter you have a grip/breath meter. You will often have to climb a Colossus to get to a weak point and whilst you are climbing, your grip meter will deplete so you must take rests on whatever is available when climbing the beasts in order to avoid falling. Your grip meter will also deplete when a Colossus tries to shake you off him/her. You will hang on for dear life if your grip meter is full but when it runs empty, you will be flung from the Colossus. Speed and precision is vital in taking down the beasts.
The grip meter acts as your breath meter when you are underwater. The swimming controls are as easy as the controls when you are on dry land won't take long to get the hang of.
The controls for Agro are again simple and easy to get used to. He is invaluable in battles where speed is required as the more you tap the Run button, the faster he will go. You can also fire your bow whilst sitting on Agro's back so if you need to slow down a Colossi that you are chasing or one that is chasing you, you can maintain speed whilst dealing damage. You can also call Agro if you lose him by tapping the Run button and he will immediately come to your aid.
The only thing that may work against you in battle is the camera work. It is often difficult to move to the right angle when you are in a tight or cramped spot and this can be frustrating when you have to work quickly.
The AI and character animations in the game are very realistic. Our hero Wanda has an air of clumsiness about him at times. This can be seen when he's running from a Colossus and stumbles or jumping from ledge to ledge and waves his arms about in an almost comical fashion. This reminds the gamer that he is human and not invincible, making for a much more realistic character.
Agro is probably one of the most realistic horses I've seen in a game and because he's such an important factor, it's good that the developers spent as much time on Agro's character that they did Wandas.
One of the features that makes this game stand out from the rest is the graphics. Of course we have seen new heights in graphics with the PS3 and XBox 360 but for the PS2 console, the graphics are stunning and still hold up today. The landscape that you must navigate is beautiful. It's so cinematic, you almost feel as if you're watching a movie. You'll find yourself wanting to explore every inch of land you can reach. You really feel the sense of isolation and loneliness as you travel the land with only the sound of the wind, the cawing of the birds and a few lizards for company.
The Colossi are amazing in terms of design and scale. Each one differs largely from the next and when you witness the vastness of the creatures, you find yourself thinking, "How the Hell am I going to take that down?" They all have different characteristics and movements, making each battle exciting and new.
The cinematic cut scenes are as good as the game play itself and make you feel as if your watching an epic movie, especially when you take down each Colossi and they fall to the ground with an almighty crash. It really makes you realise the scale of these beasts.
The music and the audio really add to the game and enhance the game play further. The musical score is simply brilliant, especially in battles and adds to the dramatics and epics of the whole thing. The audio is very realistic, from Wanda's grunts of pain to every hiss and roar of each Colossus. Wanda never speaks in the game (only to call Agro) but this game proves that you don't need heaps of dialogue to enhance a game.
One of the things about Shadow of the Colossus that some gamers may not like is the fact that the only enemies you face are the sixteen Colossi. If you are a gamer who likes to slash his way through hoards of enemies then this game probably isn't for you but if you like epic battles on epic scales, then you'll love this.
Overall, Shadow of the Colossus is a beautiful and engaging game that I would recommend everyone to try at least once.
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