Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Shadow of the Colossus | PlayStation 2 Tuesdays #13

Sorry for the belated post - this should have gone up last Tuesday.  As a result you will be getting a double dose this week!

Shadow of the Colossus
is the follow up to Ico, a much beloved action adventure title that was first released in Europe in 2002, and then reprinted in 2006 due to demand from those who had heard of the game but not had a chance to pick it up.  I bought Ico the first time around, and I really tried to like it, but it just didn't grab me.  There was something about the gameplay that I just found annoying.  Since then I have tried again several times yet failed to finish the game each time - with the most recent attempt being a few months ago.  I had originally intended that Ico would be the first episode of PS2 Tuesdays season 2, but after putting the controller down in frustration once again, I finally made peace with the fact that I would never beat it, and I should just focus on enjoying the infitely more enjoyable Colossus.

I also bought Shadow of the Colossus on the day of its release in 2006, and this time fell in love with the game almost immediately.  I had already been smitted by the concept of battling one humungous boss creature after another after reading an article in Edge, when the game was still known as Wanda and the Colossus, and after that I followed the project with great interest until the game finally became available.  I can still vividly remember setting out from the temple for the very first time, using my sword to reveal the location of the beast, and then climbing a small cliff where the creature was to be found.  Battling this behemoth was quite clumsy to begin with, as I had to get to grips with switching between my bow and my sword, and the rather unorthodox grip mechanic.

Each of the 16 colossi that your main character has to slay have rather convenient tufts of hair and other bony ridges that you can hang onto or lodge yourself in while taking a quick breather.  It's up to you to navigate their bodies and locate a weak spot, which is denoted by a glowing runic symbol if you have your magic sword in your hand.  Some of the colossi have multiple weak spots, others just have one (usually on their forehead) and battles usually comprise of two stages, at least for me.  The first is simply working out how to get onto the boss - a fairly simple process for the first few battles but a increasingly complex procedure when your adversaries can fly, swim or are covered in tough armour plating.  A few violent stabs with your sword will wittle down their health bar, whereupon the weak spot either fades away and you must find another one, or you have slain the monster.

But just who is the real monster of the game?  These lumbering creatures that your bringing down don't seem to be doing anybody any harm until you come along at the behest of some disambodied voice.  It is clear that you are killing in the name of love, as the opening cut scene shows your character on his horse with the lifeless body of a girl draped across it.  Whether this is your lover or your sister isn't made clear.  There is a legend that this part of the world holds the secret to bring the deceased back to life, and the gentle giants that populate the landscape must pay the ultimate price.  The dark tentacles that writhe out of their fallen forms and shoot into your chest each time you bring one down suggest that you may also pay a steep price, however.

Shadow of the Colossus
features an amazing soundtrack, and visuals that still look great to this day.  The original PS2 version did have quite noticeable slowdown at times, something which the HD rerelease has addressed, making it the utlimate version of the game. Team Ico have teased us for years with trailers and screen shots for The Last Guardian, the planned third part of the "Ico trilogy", yet it still hasn't been released, and Sony are still adamant that it hasn't been cancelled.  Let's hope it finally makes its way onto the PS4 in the near future, as what has been shown off looks fantastic!

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