Monday, January 19, 2015

Second Impressions: Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

I am midway through Shadow of the Colossus, and I really think I should write something about this game.  The first time I encountered this second release from Team Ico, was when it was new, watching Zor the Red play, and sometimes taking turns.  It left a strong impression on me, and I knew this game would stand out over the test of time.

A few years later, I find myself with access to a PS3, and an earnest desire to play this game again.  Thank you ebay, I now own a copy of Ico/Shadow of the Colossus for PS3.  Though, I do not actually own the console I play it on.  This could be an issue in the future.

For the present, I definitely think Shadow of the Colossus holds up.  The art direction is just fantastic.  The graphics aren't terribly dated, and graphics aren't much of a problem for me as I am perpetually behind on the latest and greatest.  The gameplay is in some ways very simplistic, and this works to its advantage.  The few features in the game are fantastically well honed with very few exceptions.  

Much of the time in this game is spent simply going from point A to point B,  and it's beautiful and peaceful, a stark contrast to the actual Colossus fights.  For this, you employ your horse, Agro.  Agro takes a little getting used to.  My best equine advice I can give is not to try and control Agro too closely.  He's actually pretty smart, and will follow the curvature of the landscape.  He'll get on your nerves sometimes, and he can be a pain in the neck.  But it would take an extraordinarily long time to walk to your various destinations.  

One of the poorest features of the game is actually the difficulty in mounting your horse.  The mount button is also the jump button, and if you're not positioned just so, you'll end up jumping around like a goofball, which can quickly become annoying.  Apart from mounting, the camera can take some getting used to.  It has a mind of its own, and there are times when it simply won't cooperate when I want to get a look at something.  On the other hand, one of the best features of this game are the incredible majestic camera angles you are treated to.  Still, when the camera is a problem, and an 80 ton colossus is bearing down on  you, I'm less concerned about the directors vision and more concerned about not-dying.

The controls, and the gameplay in general requires patience.  This game is not a pick-up and play platforming adventure.  The controls are quirky.  However, with difficulty, there is always the exchange.  Every quirk contributes in some way to the overall artful payoff.  The heaviness of the hero's motions is really great to watch, even if he isn't as agile or quick as I'd like him to be.  If you have the patience and the will, you can become quite adepts at Shadow of the Colossus, and reap the rewards of beautiful, epic monster battles.  

One important thing to note is the third colossus battle.  This is the time in the game when the wheels come off, and everything seems to fall apart.  Typically, a colossus takes me about 30 minutes, start to finish, but the third battle took an hour and fifteen, and that doesn't include when I rage-quit and started again a later time.  And I remember having the same problem the first time through, when Zor and I felt we were slamming our heads into a brick wall.  Still, I made it through, even without consulting a strategy guide.  For anyone else:  consult a strategy guide.  Save yourself the heartache.  It's really amazing how an entire game can seem so terrible when you're having a bad time.  

Ultimately, Shadow of the Colossus is a sort of high-risk, high reward game, that I'm enjoying more and more as I get older.  If you can-- play it.  I'll buy you a copy.  (maybe)



  1. This is definitely one of those games I should have picked up when the PS2 was still working (before I ground that laser into oblivion watching years worth of DVDs, playing 120+ hours of FF XII and upwards of 60+ hours on GTA: San Andreas), but for whatever reason, I never acquired it nor have I played it in any fashion.

    This would be a good time for Team Ico/Sony to release the game on Steam (as Square Enix and SEGA have done with their older catalogues) or even GOG.

    The point is, I would like to play this game, with or without a strategy guide (but probably with so I don't annoy our neighbor with incessant head pounding noises against the wall and Mario Kart type swearing, which I already do on occasion).

  2. I would love it if Sony would release these games on PC or Steam. I have no idea what hte likelihood is that they would do that. I'd really love it if Journey were to be released too, while they're at it. Damned Console wars.