A finely-tuned HD celebration of two incredible gaming experiences.
Bluepoint Games, the studio behind the PS3 conversions, have done a remarkable job retrofitting these fantastic adventures to run on current high-definition displays, creating a visual splendor that not only does justice to their sources, but also brings them to life like never before. Furthermore, the addition of stereoscopic 3D and widescreen support bring so much more to a well-stocked buffet, implicating the feel of something old being new all over again. It's almost like finding a VHS tape of a movie you loved as a kid and converting it on a Blu-ray disc to be enjoyed in an entirely new way without really compromising the original source.
So how exactly do these games fare on the PS3 platform? ICO, for the most part, looks incredible despite its somewhat aged presentation. It runs as smoothly as you recall from the PS2 game, and plays as well as you remember it. Clearer character models, updated environments and even a couple of new surprises that weren't in the North American PS2 release have been daftly included as an added punch. High definition really brings out the beauty of the game's visual splendor, but it also unintentionally unravels a few ugly flaws like texture draw-in and noticeable aliasing blemishes. However, these are few and far between and shouldn't overly distract your overall experience in any way. And what about Shadow of the Colossus? I've personally gone on record proclaiming this particular game as one of my all-time favorite interactive experiences, and the ICO Collection recreates every nook, dovecote and cranny that players remember from the PS2 release. With an astounding 30 frames per second (roughly a third of the original game) Shadow of the Colossus plays and moves even more beautifully and fluidly than the PS2 release---despite some minor issues of texture draw-in and the sacrifice of that neat screen-blurring camera movement which I felt brought a sense of cinematic flair during the most intense Colossi fights. Other interesting tweaks from the PS2 game include an anti-climactic pause that occurs mere moments after you plunge your sword to extinguish a Colossus' very last, precious inch of its life.
If you have played both games before and are eager to revisit these beloved adventures on your PS3, don't do it for the sake of simply earning trophies. Those reasons alone are irrelevant when you think about how magnificent and epic both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are in scope and interactive magnitude. Ground-breaking, emotional storytelling, superb production values and some of the most unique gameplay ever in a video game help set these games apart from everything else found on the market today. The ICO Collection packages these amazing experiences in one brilliant high-definition disc, inviting both ardent fans and interested newcomers to breathe in the aromatic splendor with a resulting, satisfied sigh. Whatever crowd you find yourself in, you owe it to yourself to add this important collection to your game library.