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Developer:
Sony Computer Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 18, 2005

by Felipe Faria Lemos




Words fail me trying to describe Shadow of the Colossus. It is, quite simply, what video gaming is all about in my opinion. It is much more than a simple pastime or simple entertainment. It is pure art. It is an adventure of epic proportions that will stir true emotions from the very soul of a gamer, and provide an unforgettable experience. Shadow of the Colossus is a true masterpiece of such mesmerizing beauty, it can literally put tears in a gamer’s eyes, in pure bliss.


Directed by Fumito Ueda, creator of ICO (another great game), Shadow of the Colossus is a bold, innovative and ambitious game, although simplistic in its mechanics. Developed in Japan by SCEI (the same team behind ICO as well) and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, it hit shelves in the US on October 18.


The gamer assumes the role of a young warrior, whom is moved by love into entering a forbidden realm to save a mysterious girl. In order to save this special person, the strange voices in the wondrous temple tell him that there is only one way to have his wish granted. He has to find and defeat gigantic creatures known as colossi, which are located in many different places throughout the land.


The game mechanics are very simple, as stated before. The warrior carries only two items, which will stay with you from the very first encounter, until you defeat the last colossus. The trusty sword is your main way to inflict damage on a colossus, and also doubles as a kind of compass that is essential in finding the next colossus location. The second item is a bow and arrow, which is truly indispensable. It is necessary in many instances during battle with the colossi, and proves to be quite versatile. Since the land is so vast, riding a horse is very necessary. Agro proves to be essential in your quest, in reaching the colossi and even helping you in some battles. The bond with the horse grows very strong through the game, and sooner than later you will have him as a true friend in the game, and will constantly need his help.


The objective in the game is very clear from the beginning. Find and destroy the colossi. There are no lesser foes, no side quests or anything else to worry about. There is an RPG-like element to the game, since the character does grow stronger and can endure more and more after the encounters with the colossi. But the system is so simple it is even hard to notice, and it is not player controlled. Actually, put in a nutshell, the game is basically the main character, his steed Agro, the colossi and the amazing quest to unearth and bring those gigantic beasts down.


In the graphics department, this is definitely one of the best looking games on any system. It doesn’t mean there are many technological feats in the game engine, but meticulous attention to detail, incredible use of light and dark contrast, and an incomparable sense of aesthetic and superb design give this game an unparalleled look and feel, that can only be described as art. The world is so beautiful, vast and varied, it is easy to find one wasting game time and just staring at and absorbing the magnificent scenery and enjoying a truly unique feeling of wonder. The animation in the game is also top notch. Agro is probably the most well animated and life-like horse ever in a video game.


The colossi are extremely well executed, and without any stretch of imagination, it is easy to believe in the way they move, and the massive weight they seem to have is very believable thanks to superb animation. The warrior’s animation is also extremely well executed. He seems to be clumsy when he runs and in some of his jumping, but this is very likely done on purpose, in order to portray the inexperienced warrior he is in the beginning of the journey.


It is also in the graphics department that one can notice probably one of the very few flaws in Shadow of the Colossus. The frame rate is inconsistent, and tends to drop dangerously in certain moments, especially during massive battles.


The soundtrack is on par with any high budget movie. The real orchestrated music is incredible. At times, you notice when a song repeats, but most likely you won’t mind listening to it again. The sound effects are also very satisfying. Most of the game, the only thing you will hear is the sound of Agro’s hoofs beating the ground. The sound effects are all lifelike and sound great, from the sound of an arrow flying off the bow, to the roars of the behemoths.


The controls are very simple, and respond very well. It is easy to control Agro, and also very satisfying, since he reacts so much like a real horse would. The controls may seem perhaps too simple at first glance, but there is a deeper system ‘hidden’ underneath. Camera controls are also well executed, although a few times, you can find yourself fighting the camera, trying to find the best way to watch the action. After some time with the game, it gets easier to control the camera any way you want.


There is a surprising amount of extra content that will span the game even longer than the 10 to 12 hours it promises the first time through. The replay value is not necessarily very high, but chances are you will like this game a lot, and will want to play through its extra mode and regular quest much more than once.


In conclusion, this game is a true gem. Unfortunately, it will not be as successful as it deserves, especially in the US. This game is a true masterpiece, comparable to only a handful of incredible games. It probably isn’t for the casual gamer, since it is executed in a different manner than the mainstream games nowadays. But the gamer who has the patience and courage to plunge into the game will, without a doubt, find a truly wonderful experience, of such impact that it will live in his or her memory forever.


Final Grade: 98%




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