A game unlike you've ever seen, but Shadow of the Colossus only has itself to blame for its "poor" selling rat
PBz0r wrote this review on .
Those who did buy the game couldn't stop talking about how great this game actually was, and every single reviewer out there mentioned 50Cent: Bulletproof's sales as an example of injustice in this world. And of course, it's not fair, the gaming industry. And I'm sure there are more than 650.000 gamers in this world that can enjoy Shadow of the Colossus, but people who didn't buy the game sometimes really had their reasons. Because reviewers usually exclaim this game just "is" good. And it's not. It has its major flaws. This is Shadow of the Colossus: love it or hate it.
Though this game was released in 2005, you'll ask yourself if this game wasn't actually released back in 2000, because graphically, this game isn't all too impressive. However from the first seconds of this experience (it's an experience, rather than a game), the visual beauty will blow you away. The power of Bloom, Blurr and Brown. There's so much soul in the world of SotC, which is in fact so empty. Landscapes, bosses and buildings are in one word epic. You see ruins throughout the game, not knowing what they once were, temples designed for gods who have seem to have ceased to exist. The game is a beautiful painting, and the game will never let go of you once you fully played it through. This game is a real adventure that even though it's set in a pratcically empty world, simply won't bore you, mostly thanks to the almost perfectly composed music. The music is maybe even the best thing in this game, every melody brilliantly captures the spirit of a place, an event or a battle, and will make playing this game the most epic experience in your life. Even if you were to slay huge colossi in real life, you should bring your iPod listening to these tracks to make it as fun as this game.
Controls in the game are a point of discussion. In a way, the hero Wander doesn't move smoothly at all, and neither does his horse Agro. But on the other hand, Wander isn't a superhero, one might even call him weak (he's good at climbing, though). This makes you feel even smaller in the vast world where everything is at least 5 times larger than you are, be it rocks, trees, creatures or buildings (there aren't a lot of buildings though).Then there's the battles: you encounter a monster, you need to glance only once and you know there's no way you can beat it. But still there's always one way to do so (and one way only). Every boss battle is a puzzle, it's determination and a bright mind that should help you take out the power of pure destruction, in other words: the colossi. The battles are mostly about climbing your opponents instead of hurting them. The climbing controls are excellent and in a way, this is the best working climbing simulator I've seen in my life (OK, it's the only one I've ever seen, but it works, y'know). Though the battles are really slow they're most likely the most spectacular you've seen in a lifetime. This may be a game with boss fights only, but jesus, do these battles kick some ass.
As I said, people who didn't buy Shadow of the Colossus probably had their reasons. So the game is not perfect. Maybe it is for those who like this kind of game and have the patience to complete it, but for those who don't it certainly isn't. To some the vast world may be impressive and beautiful, but to others simply boring. Controls are realistic, but not smooth. Let me give a good example of that.
In many games with horses you simply place your hero on his horse. While riding the horse, you actually move the horse and not the hero. In this game however, you are still controlling Wander while on the horse (Agro), so the horse has a will on its own. Which is innovative, but sometimes it just doesn't work.
At times the game might just freeze, and this is one of the really nasty bugs that appear in Shadow of the Colossus. If you're really into the game, it really sucks when you are suddenly being reminded of the fact this is just a game because it lags like hell. During battles loss of frame rate can add to the experience (yes it can), but when you're simply wandering around with Wander (hence his name), you just want to be free to move around as much as you like and at such times a sudden glitch is like a serious slap in the face.
Now the story of the game is quite strong, but the developers have made an actual story such a minor point in the game, you still won't understand what it was all about after reading wikipedia 3 times. Characters are not being introduced, you don't know who's who, and backgrounds are being left to our imagination, which is good, but the story still lacks depth. The game is great in many ways, but it is not "complete", the game could've been so much better.
Lastly, the game doesn't last. Because if you're still not done after 20 hours, you either really suck, or you enjoy riding around mindlessly more than you should (I know I did). After completing the game once, you can try the unlockable hard mode, also there's an additional speed run mode, but overall the game doesn't have much replay value: the second time is never as fun as the first.
Let's get back to the good aspects of SotC.
What made me put up the tilt to 10? Originality. This game is innovative, breathtaking, groundbreaking and new in so many ways, every PS2-owner should own Shadow of the Colossus. Even if there's only a 10% chance you're gonna enjoy this game as much as I did, it's worth your time and money.
So what's so innovative about this game? Well, the entire game is focused on the experience. The only things in the game are Wander, his horse, his dead girlfriend, some sort of a god, 16 huge beasts and some minor characters that appear near the end of the game. That's it. No more characters, and main protagonist Wander speaks only one line in the entire game. Personally, as a big fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, I wasn't used to this at all. You don't get any stronger, and earn no extra weapons during the game (well there are some in the second playthrough...). It's you and your horse in a dead world, doing what you think is right, making the impossible possible. The atmosphere in SotC is the only one talking, through music that can give you the chills at any given moment. The rest of the experience, you'll have to think up yourself, and you will automatically. SotC it arouses your imagination. This game is in one word beautiful, and shows why videogames are an artform. In the end, these are the games that make a console like the PS2 special.