Jump to content

Shadow of the Colossus

Posted by Apocalypse, 31 May 2010 · 98 views

If you're even minutely in tune with Playstation gaming, you've heard of Shadow of the Colossus. It received universal accolades and I have not heard a single bad thing about the game. I bought it, and then quickly realized that something was up with my PS3's PS2 emulation. Oh, wait… nothing was up. Turns out it was nonexistent on my particular model (but not on other 80gb systems, which is what threw me when I did my research). So I just borrowed a friend's PS2.

And then turns out he lost his memory card. I finally got a new card from another friend with the warning that it was untested and there was the possibility that it might not work. I slid that guy right in the PS2 and… it didn't work. But I could at least still play the game, provided I did not need to save and never shut off the system. And I didn't for two and a half days.

A little background: the game begins with a lone traveler, seeking the aid of some mystic force to resurrect his dead… Uh, girlfriend? Sister? Let's just go with woman. He needs to resurrect his dead woman. The mystic force naturally agrees, but only on one condition: this warrior goes and kills the great colossi of the land with his magical sword. The task is accepted because the game must begin.

I'll just rip the band-aid off right now: I'm fairly disappointed with the game, overall. All of its parts together do not make a good game, and I was surprised considering I'd never heard an ill word said of the game. But, fear not, because the reason the game was so lauded in the first place, the colossus fights, I found excellent, for the most part.

The only enemies in the world are the sixteen colossi, but they are enemies enough. Each is a massive and unique beast that can only be slain by climbing atop them and stabbing them in the magical equivalent of private parts, known as the vital points. How to reach these points (and occasionally where those points are) is where the trick comes in: getting atop a colossus, hanging on, climbing about, and stabbing the weak point is no easy task, especially towards the end when the difficulty is ramped up. Speaking of the difficulty, the curve is excellent. The first two fights are there to introduce the colossi and the core concepts of defeating them, and after that, each one is unique (mostly) and the fights are increasingly epic and difficult.

My only real complaint is that while the fights were truly a thing to behold (and play) they were occasionally bogged down by figuring out the trick to defeating the colossus. On one or two occasions, I was actually stymied by the colossus itself (like the little fast bugger… I can't keep dodging this guy and solve the puzzle at the same time!) but luckily such occasions were few and far between. Though, to an onlooker, the game would be way more epic when played by a veteran player. Less solving puzzles and more enacting the solutions. The best fights were usually the ones in which I intuited the solution, or lucked my way into it before I explored the battle to its extent, at which point I could leap into action.

I use the word puzzle, but this ain't no crossword. "Solving" should here be interpreted as "Figuring out how to climb aboard this behemoth, which is all the while shaking and rolling to fling you from its hairy hide, and slaying it in the most jaw-dropping way imaginable," and I guess "puzzles" would be the period because that first sentence does it a modicum of justice. I say "modicum" because the fights are indescribable, especially when performed in an efficient manner. The heated orchestral score will strike up and you begin an action movie sequence that is utterly cinematic and diabolically thrilling. They simply must be played to be believed.

That part of the game does deserve the praise it has received, but I didn't find a whole lot beyond the colossi that I appreciated, particularly because I followed Red Dead Redemption up with this game and couldn't help but compare. The controls, for the most part, are finicky and awkward, particularly those on horseback. The game tries to develop a camaraderie with your horse, Agro, since he is your only ally in these underdog fights. I tried to like Agro, I really did. I even felt the love, during fights in which he played a role. But the horse mechanics are ridiculous. Getting him to start running is almost as much of a battle as a colossus, because this horse seems to think there's something leisurely about this whole scenario and that he can take his sweet time. Another annoyance was that whenever he encountered terrain that he even thought he might not like (say, a bit of rough rock about ten feet away from a boulder), he veers to the left at a 90 degree angle, which more often than not resulted into him crashing into a new obstacle and stopping. At which point I had to get him running again and furthered my frustrations. After Red Dead's horses, I just had no tolerance for clunky controls. I believe the example that sums up my whole ordeal was the point in which the plot called for you and Agro to leap across a small gap onto a bridge, at which point it would start collapsing and you had to race it. Of course, I had abandoned Agro a minute before after I got fed up with navigating him through twisting inclines and proceeded on foot. Guess who doesn't have the speed to outrace a crumbling bridge? It's the main character.

The open world was quite beautiful and varied, but navigating it sullied my appreciation for it. That and I was also comparing it to Red Dead's sprawling vistas and finding the PS2 graphics lacking, and rather unfairly deciding not to acknowledge this handicap. The platforming and camera also slapped me in the face a few times, sometimes going so far as to cause me to fall to my death and making me start waaaay back at the central temple, where I would have to ride all the way to the colossus again, because I had not yet begun the fight and triggered the checkpoint.

Let's talk for a second about the main character. I really did like the guy, even though he was weirdly effeminate. He had the face and hair of a woman, and a rather lithe frame, which makes me wonder why the modelers didn't either give him a few more masculine features, or just go all out and make him female. That's the Japanese for ya, I guess. Anyway, he was smoothly animated and quite the badass (of course, going through those over the top fights would make anyone a badass). He looked, like no other video game character I've ever seen, like he was putting a massive amount of effort into his actions. I'd see him run full-tilt with the frenzied motion of sprinting that few video game characters can muster in their animations, barely outrunning some beast behind him. When he dove for cover, he motherphloxing dove for cover; he moved like if he didn't make it through that door coming up, he wasn't going to make it at all, which I appreciated to no end, because that was undoubtedly the case. Failing to outrun a colossus would not end well for anyone. He did not turn the corner; he scrambled around it. He did not cling; he held onto matted fur for dear life as he ragdolled violently to the throes of the titan beneath him. He did not move with the methodical, almost careful climb of an Assassins' Creed main character; he slipped slightly, caught his grip, and climbed again with all the vigor of a man in the throes of an adrenaline-fueled, tooth-and-nail fight to the death.

I feel the need to comment on the artistic merit of the game, in closing. I would not deny this game the title of art, but one must understand that an artful game does not necessitate a good game. Shadow of the Colossus had no end of flaws, and I can't forgive the flaws it had even though it succeeded amazingly in some regards. I could go off on a tangent about the empty and still world, and how the needless slaughter of these majestic creatures, coupled with stringed instruments lamenting their fall, brings with it the grim knowledge that there will never be another of those beasts in the world again, but I won't. Odds are if you're a gamer, you've heard it anyway. And the game did push a few of my buttons; for example, two closing sequences in which the outcome was predetermined but the game allowed you to play them anyway, because the entire point was that you weren't supposed to succumb to the denoument without a struggle (and I fear I am bordering on spoilers here) but I won't heap praise on a game that only gets it right half the time.

I'll give Shadow of the Colossus a 7 out of 10. It's a must-play, if you can, but don't expect anything outside of the colossus fights to rock your socks off. And, actually, don't expect all of the colossus fights to remove your socks in any manner, either.

October 2017

151617181920 21

My Picture

0 user(s) viewing

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


    Search My Blog