Written by  :  NeoJ (455)
Written on  :  Mar 15, 2010
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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The love moves mountains

The Good

To start with, Shadow of the Colossus awakes a lot of feelings. I've been playing video games for 20 years or so and I can't remember many games that make me feel the things that I feel with this one. I'm talking about melancholy, tenderness and sadness as I've never feel before in any other game the way that Shadow of the Colossus does. The emotional burden of the game is what I really want to remark, over the game itself.

I can spend hours and hours talking about the landscapes in the game or the incredible post production on it, but the feelings that the game awakes are the most important thing and what makes this game unique. The loneliness of an insignificant character in a complete new world where his horse is his only friend. The relation between the character and his horse is so beautiful that I'm sure that many developers would be delighted if they could reach that depth in their games between their (human) characters. We'll spend hours riding our horse looking for the next battle, and we'll love the horse sincerely from the beginning. It's like if we know that we're nothing without the horse in such an enormous land.

Everything's colossal, heroic and epic. If we think about a little description of the game we'll realize how epic is this game: Take your horse and ride to the battle with 16 colossus that you must defeat, to give your beloved her life back, only with a bow and a sword that will guide you shining a light on your way once you aim it to the sun. Isn't it epic enough?

The colossus are the main attractive of the game. Many of the colossus are as you may imagine in your mind when you hear the word "colossus", but many others aren't, because we have many kinds of them. The game would have been a great one if they've featured just enormous creatures to be defeated, but they tried to make unique creatures too, and that's why you'll have to face flying colossus, giant sand worms (Dune!) or some surprises in the deep water.

Each colossus has a different way to be defeated, and that's why the experience of your previous battle will be useless in the next one. Some of them are agile and some aren't, others are harder to be climbed... Yes, that's right, we'll have to climb most of them to find their vital points, and some of them are so big that we'll have to spend some time resting in a platform of their armors. Battles are really long, and we'll have a hint if we spend a lot of time, but sometimes this hint is useless and we'll be frustrated if we don't know how to attack the creature. Shadow of the Colossus is not an action game, it's and adventure game. Drawing your sword and attack the colossus with it is as stupid as enormous are your enemies because you won't even hurt him a little bit.

There are no enemies besides the colossus, which is something that many people don't like about the game. It's certainly a double-edged decision, but I really think that it makes the game more intimate, increasing that loneliness feeling in the whole game and giving the story more depth. There's no justification to start killing minor creatures in that wasted land. Anyway, if you want to make other things rather than fighting against those creatures you can hunt small lizards and collect fruits from the trees, that will help you increasing your parameters.

The game has a monotonous story line but in the ending part everything's epic as the other aspects of the game, with a nice closure leaving a bittersweet feeling for the player that will rest for many time in the player's mind. A perfect combination of sadness and the strange feeling of finishing one of the most incredible games in a long time.

Talking about the gameplay, there are some problems with concrete jumps, but the controls response as they should. Sometimes we may think that they don't work as we try, but it's just because we're fighting against a colossus for 1 hour, and we're tired, and when that happens everything seems to be harder than it really is. Anyway, controls aren't easy, but it's good because it's like feeling the effort of our character climbing the giant creatures to defeat them. It really works fine and improves the epic experience of the game.

Kow Otani is the compositor for the soundtrack of the game which is as epic as all the other things. Kow Otani will intimidate with the music every time that we face the colossus, in those moments that we don't know exactly what to do. Then, when we start to thing about how defeating the colossus, the music changes (that's when we're climbing the colossus for example) to a more heroic and vivid tone. Once we've defeated our foe, the music will harmonize with a sweet melody to accompany our rest of the battle. This cycle is repeated in every colossus (with different compositions, of course). The music will also accompany us in our riding through many different landscapes, like dry deserts, old ruined temples or giant lakes.

The Bad

There are some inadequate things in Shadow of the Colossus. There are not big prize in riding all over the map because the game has no extra things to do. There's not even a special motivation about doing that. I'm one of those players that really need to see everything of a game, visiting each place and taking every single item. I've played Shadow of the Colossus three times, and none of them I feel like I should explore all the map.

Hunting small lizards will increase your parameters, but... some of them are really evasive! You'll need to take your time just for hunting a single small lizard. Some of them are even harder than the colossus! Maybe the game should've been called "Shadow of the Lizards" or something.

If you stop for a moment and think, you'll realize soon that the game is just going from point A to B to defeat a big boss in there and nothing more. There's no important story in between, so the concept is really simple.

We have to use the sword to guide us to our next challenge, but sometimes it's not the best GPS in the world. For example, if the enemy is at the other side of a mountain the sword will guide you directly to it, and it won't avoid the mountain between you and where you must go. It's possible that you get lost because of that, and in such an enormous place it's not something really funny. What's more, in some places you can't see where you must go because you can't see the ray of light. It happens when there's no sun shining, when you're inside a cavern or inside a deep forest, sometimes it's a bit annoying. Anyway, it's still so epic...

Once you've finished the game you won't play it much more times. A game with a concept so simple (unique, but simple) don't need to be played many times. You'll unlock a time attack mode when you've finished the game for the first time, and it's the only new thing to play, which is the same thing that you've been doing before, so, no new feature at all.

Another thing about its low replay value is the fact that every colossus is so unique that you'll remember easy how to defeat it when you play the game again, no matter if it's been months from the last time. There's only one way to kill each colossus and weak points are always in the same place, so you won't have to play again to find new ways of defeating them because there aren't. There are some strange ways to defeating them but they're more like a bug than other thing. When you finish the game you won't feel again the same feelings that the first time, the experience changes a lot, but it's still a good game.

Game's not hard at all, only a bit frustrating sometimes. It's really difficult that a colossus hurts you because they move slow and they need a lot of time to turn around. Don't forget that it's like fighting against mountains! To avoid the attack of a colossus is easy, and one hit of them won't kill you at all. The only limit of the game is your own patience, you have to be really patience because it's possible that you climb a lot of time to reach the weak point of the colossus, which is most of the times on the head and then you may fall from there to the ground and you'll have to start all over again from the beginning, but colossus aren't dangerous at all.

The Bottom Line

Shadow of the Colossus may not be the best game for the PlayStation 2 because some aspects like its replayability, but it's clear that it's one of the most unique games made not only for the Playstation 2 but the whole video game industry. The game design is unforgettable and the concept is revolutionary in every aspect, but the storyline and the emotions that it awakes are even more remarkable, showing us how colossal love could be.