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Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus

Occasionally a game is made which is beautiful, original and astonishing, something fresh and ground breaking which pushes the boundaries and refuses to play it safe. Shadow of the Colossus is one of these games. It is sad that nearly all games today consist of Sims expansion packs, licensed EA sport games or endless sequels which sell millions, whilst original games manage only a fraction.

Shadow is a game from the same team who created Ico, an unconventional but brilliant game with similar artistic design. The fantastic opening scene really creates atmosphere and whilst initially slow burning it soon picks up pace. The story of the game centres on Wander who sets out resurrect a pale girl named Mono. Accompanied only by his faithful horse Agro alongside a bow and a magical sword he enters into an ancient land to uncover a way to revive his love.

The land he enters is deserted, with only the crumbling remains of an ancient civilization left. In the centre stands a temple which forms a key role in the game. It is here that the body of Mono rests and a strange disembodied voice instructs him of a way to bring her to life. In order to do so he must roam the landscape and battle a series of Colossi and through their defeat secure the resurrection of Mono.

Firstly, don't expect a straightforward Hollywood story, this is a complex, multi-layered experience which requires you to work hard and think for yourself in order to appreciate the subtleties. However the story is satisfying and compelling and really made me desperate to play through the game.

Graphics wise, the game still impresses and when up-scaled on the PS3 it looks crisp and beautiful. The diversity of the game world also gives the game chance to dazzle with a range of vistas on display; particularly memorable are a vast desert, tropical jungle and an enormous lake.

The core game itself consists of two main elements, exploring the landscape to find the Colossi and the battles themselves. Exploring the landscape riding on your faithful steed is a soothing experience, riding though the magnificent scenery whilst using your sword to pin point the location of the creature you seek. The sword you carry has the ability to reflect sunlight which points to your destination and also looks artistic.

When you reach your destination you must then battle the Colossus which might sound odd, a game comprising of 16 boss battles, but instead it is exhilarating and exciting. The 16 Colossi are all remarkably different and suitably terrifying. The first one you encounter is the size of a tower and vibrates the ground when it moves. Others include a 300ft long winged creature and a truly terrifying burrowing snake like monster.

The challenge of defeating a Colossus is in working out how to expose weak points which can again be identified by using your sword. After these are found the next difficulty is getting to them which usually involves a death defying climb up the creature itself, through grabbing onto the moss growing on them, gripping onto ridges of stone or in one memorable instance having to grab onto the beard of a 50ft tall club wielding monster.

Each battle feels difficult and epic in scale but the sense of satisfaction when you discover the strategy and successfully implement it is unparalleled. The sound plays a large part in this, as when you have managed to climb onto a gigantic stone hawk which is flying over the landscape an epic orchestral core kicks in. The music is stunning and different songs for each encounter ramp up the tension and makes each encounter feel special.

This game is dark though and raises some interesting moral questions. Normally when in a boss fight you kill it and move on, but Shadow of the Colossus manages to make you feel guilt for your actions. When you raise your sword and plunge it into a Colossus' weak spot it writhes in agony, desperately trying to shake you off whilst a fountain of dark liquid erupts from the wound. These are living creatures you are murdering, which adds an uneasy feeling to the game designed to provoke reactions.

However there are problems with the game. The controls are a little confusing at first and the interface does take some getting used to, with a system that requires a good read through of the manual to be able to understand it. The controls when riding your horse are also a little unusual. The game designers decided to not always have him obey your commands exactly which can be a little strange. Whilst undoubtedly more realistic, this can be frustrating if trying to carefully avoid stompy death from a gigantic titan.

I am sure that this isn't a game for everyone as it is unusual and takes some time to appreciate and understand. If you stick with it and want to try a game which is unusual, innovative and rewarding then I would recommend this game wholeheartedly. Shadow of the Colossus offers some unique and exceptional experiences and in my view ranks as one of the best games ever created.

9.00/10 9

Shadow of the Colossus (Reviewed on PlayStation 2)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Occasionally a game is made which is beautiful, original and astonishing, something fresh and ground breaking which pushes the boundaries and refuses to play it safe. Shadow of the Colossus is one of these games. It is sad that nearly all games today consist of Sims expansion packs, licensed EA sport games or endless sequels which sell millions, whilst original games manage only a fraction.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield

Writer

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