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Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2)

92
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Pixelspeech (955)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2012
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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Summary

Is this a city or an enemy?

The Good

One of the things that rubbed me up the right way in this game is the main character. Sir, "whatever the fuck his name was" is not your everyday knight that you see in most medieval themed games. He is not on some holy quest, he is not even trying to get by, he is just been a completely pathetic loser. The story goes that this lad's girl dies and he can't for the love of God get over it and move on. Instead he brings her to a forbidden land and makes a deal with a demon, he is to hunt down 16 gigantic monsters and kill them, corrupting his body and soul in the process and throwing away everything he's got. Even the player can likely tell that his quest is going to be fruitless, but he is such an emotional wreck that he doesn't care either way.

Before we get to the meat of this game I'd like to EXPAND on the forbidden land in question (u c what I did thar?). This place is gigantic and very well designed, it is almost completely untouched by civilization and consists entirely out of natural beauty (or pixels). There were waterfalls, mountains, endless deserts, lush forests and even an area that looked like The Shire from Lord of the Rings. The few buildings you do run into make for an interesting change and they are often nicely fit with the area you were in anyway.

The world is not the only aspect that looks rather beautiful though, the characters are nothing different. While you will mostly be looking at "what's his name", that's not really a problem at all because his design is very good. He doesn't wear overly excessive clothing, but he does just enough to rise above standard clothing. Just like with Fi from Skyward Sword I loved the way his clothes moved in the wind.

But who the hell plays this game to look at that loser, we are here for the true stars of this game: The colossi. The best thing about these monsters is that they are actually gigantic monstrosities, not like most other fantasy games where "huge" is about the size of a house. The colossi are hulking giants that, as you might have guessed from the title, look like walking castles in terms of size.

Fighting these creatures feels fittingly epic and is way better than most other games where you just keep firing arrows at something like this or go through some routine to hurt him. Some colossi do require you to stun them and all of them have scripted weak-spots, but you will have to climb your way to them, jumping from ledge to ledge and desperately clinging to their hair as they shake you around. The grip-bar that shows you how much longer you can cling to the monster is a great way to force you to take chances and act riskier than you normally would.

Logically these monsters also pose a huge challenge and you will want to avoid getting hit by them. Even the trembles send out by their footsteps are enough to take a bit of health away, but if they manage to hit you with their attacks they will likely kill you in one or two hits. This is one of the rare games where I was actually sweating while playing it, the last one been the latest Zelda game for less fair reasons.

One thing I can't thank the game enough for though is the fact that it automatically puts up a checkpoint for you whenever you start a boss-fight. There were also some neat optional save-points set up all over the land that could come in handy.

Finally, I should mentioned the soundtrack. It was actually hearing the final boss theme that sold this game to me and there was a lot more where that came from. Overall it's the boss themes that make up the best songs in this game and they always helped keeping me hyped for the next encounter.

The Bad

I am going to get hate-mail for this, but I just hated that damn horse. Agro, as it is apparently called is your companion for this adventure and also your mount. I really tried to like her, but while the story tries its best, it is just held back by how utterly and completely annoying the horse is during gameplay. I think everybody can agree that a mount is supposed to get you from A to B as fast as possible, but Agro has to be arsed every second you are on top of her, to go at a reasonable pace and the slightest bump in the road will make her stagger. You also need to kick her like five times before she even starts moving to begin with. I am sorry, but I simply can't feel sympathy for something that annoys me.

Something that kinda makes me sad is that the Forbidden Land is naturally rather empty and this means that there are no characters. Aside from you, your horse, the imprisoned demon and your girlfriend who is apparently immune to rotting, there are no characters anywhere. This means that there is nobody to interact with and interacting with characters is my favorite part of any video games as it helps flesh out the world and immerse me into the story.

The only negative review I could find on this game on Mobygames mentioned the voice-acting was horrible, but I am not quite sure if "voice-acting" can be actually named here. The reason for this is that I am not even sure what these people are supposed to be speaking, it just sounds like complete gibberish to me and I didn't blame The Sims for bad voice-acting either. The language does annoy me though because it's crap like this that makes this game awkward to play when friends are near, like a family member walking in on you watching Star Trek in the middle of some Alien conversation.

While I mentioned that I liked the grip-mechanics there is one problem with them that just annoyed me. I was told that in order to increase your grip you need to shoot arrows into lizards and while I found a lot of lizards, I was never sure if I was actually getting more grip from them, the bar never seemed to increase. This made it even more difficult for me when I walked into a lizard paradise with over eight of the buggers in the same five square meters of ground.

The Bottom Line

I clocked a short five hours on this game and this was my first playthrough ever, but unlike say... Call of Duty this game actually feels that much longer. Shadow of the Colossus feels like a very rich experience whereas most games are long and stretched, this game is short and stuffed. Fighting the colossi is by far one of the most exciting things I have done in a game for a while and despite some flaws and a weak ending, I am really glad I played this game.

This game is not meant for the people who expect a game to be paced very fast, keeping you in the action at all times. Shadow of the Colossus takes its time to immerse you into the world and you will spend 70% of your time travelling instead. If you like immersive games than you owe it to yourself to check this one out. If you are a fan of platform games or you like the premise of killing colossi than you should be aware of the pacing and try this at your own risk.