When the PS2's game output was at it's creative and technical peak, some truly amazing titles were released. Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII are two such examples, but I've already talked about them in detail in the past. Instead I'm here to talk about Shadow of the Colossus, the spiritual sequel to the equally amazing Ico. Instead of dragging a ghostly girl around crumbling castles whilst solving puzzles however, Shadow has a much narrower focus, but is probably all the better for it. Your sole task is to head out into the vast wilderness on your faithful steed Agro and slay 16 colossi. These colossi vary from the huge to the mammoth to the gargantuan and as well as ground foes you will face flying ones and some based in the water.
The first trick to taking them down is working out how to scale them, which is a puzzle in itself. You will first need to find a spot to cling on to, either just by jumping onto a spot of exposed hair straight away, or by using your weapons (a sword and a bow) to cause the creature to expose their hairy bits (ooer) for you to jump on to. Then you will have to carefully climb the creature, pausing where possible to recharge your grip meter, lest you fall off and have to start all over again. Once atop the colossus, you will have to find its weak spot, which will only show up when you have the sword equipped. Find it, and plunge your sword into it, again and again. The creature will cry out in pain, and try and shake you off, but by hanging on for dear life and stabbing repeatedly, it will eventually be slain. Ghostly black tendrils will then envelop your character, and you will wake up back at the temple, where your female companion lies resting. Asleep? No, she's dead. The reason you're destroying all these graceful beasts is to bring her back from beyond - but there may be a heavy price to pay.
The visuals are fantastically designed, with a sprawling, load free wilderness to explore before you encounter one of the colossi. The colossi themselves are huge, craggy, hairy beasts which never fail to impress. Sometimes the draw distance is not so hot to compensate for the action going on, but in the heat of battle you probably won't even notice as all your attention will be focused on staying alive. The musical score is equally brilliant, once it gets going. Before you encounter one of the beasts, there is nothing but the sound of the wind and the hoof beats of your horse. As soon as you engage one of the colossi however the soundtrack wells up, and during a battle it is majestic and heroic, and once the colossi falls it is melancholy.
Shadow of the Colossus is undoubtedly well worth tracking down and playing today, especially as it can be found for a bargain price. I recently dusted off my copy and played through it again. It won't take your a terribly long time to complete but you will probably still feel that you have go your money's worth, and there are extra modes to play once you're finished. Both Shadow and Ico deserve your attention.
Meet my pet dog, Tiny.