Developer: Bluepoint Games
Release Date: 9/27/2011
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The Good: Fantastic graphics, slaying each colossus is exhilarating, beautiful atmosphere and visuals, touching ending
The Bad: Not much story, pretty short, frustrating controls and game mechanics
I have been wanting to review this game forever, and now I have the chance. I played this back in 2005 when it first came out and it was just unreal. SotC still has some of the best graphics to grace the PS2, it almost looked next-gen at the time. Of course it suffered from massive slowdown, but now we can play it with some extra graphical effects and at 60FPS. There’s not much of a story here, there never is with Famito Ueda’s games. You are a boy named Wander who brings a girl to a temple, a cursed land, and vows to destroy all 16 colossi in order to bring her back to life. The game has one of the most touching endings I can remember.
The game is very basic, you just head to each colossus and slay it. There is a huge open world, but it is very barren and void of life, but that’s the away it is supposed to be. You feel very alone and helpless in this land of brown and gray. You have two weapons, a sword and a bow. You can hold the sword up to the light to guide you to the next colossus which really isn’t that hard. Once you find it you have to figure out how to get on top of it and that’s the tricky part. Each colossus is completely different. Some are tall, some are fat, some are the size of a lion. These lumbering beasts will attack, but you need to find their weak spots. One colossus has weak spots on the bottom of its feet. When it walks you need to use your bow and shoot it. It then falls over and you can jump up and grab its fur and start climbing. Some aren’t so easy, in fact there are no hints on how to get on top of these beasts. One tricky water serpent requires you to swim over him and then his tail will come out of the water so you can grab it.
The best part is when you get on these things. Each colossus is like a level in itself. You can to climb around and hold the R1 button to stay on. They will try to shake you and your window to actually stab the glowing weak spots is really small. You have a stamina meter and when it depletes you let go and fall back down. This can be really frustrating if getting on top of the colossus is already frustrating or a long fiasco. As you slay these monsters your stamina and health increase, but you still need to watch out. The worst part about the game are the God awful controls. They just suck and the game mechanics are sluggish and unresponsive. If it weren’t for this the game would be perfect. Wander’s animations are a bit jerky and when the colossi shake you and your stamina is dropping you just want to charge your stab and kill it, but sure enough you get shaken again right as you start to charge. Wander flops around and it just feels sluggish. When you try walking on the colossus Wander will fall and tumble, some times right down to the ground. I almost threw my controller several times because of this. You will mainly die because of the mechanics, not your skills.
Let’s talk about your horse. Aggro is a main character, but I felt like I was driving a Mac truck. He won’t move if you push the stick forward, instead you have to mash X and it takes forever for his momentum to get going. You can only tap the stick left and right to steer him, but he moves too quickly and runs right into walls, which he then stops on a dime and turns completely around. Maneuvering through tight areas is a serious pain. The horse controls are just terrible. This is probably the only bad part about the game, there is nothing else like this game out there. The colossi themselves look fantastic and are just gigantic. You really feel helpless and wonder how you are going to take this thing down. It all adds to the foreboding atmosphere of the game, the loneliness and helplessness that you feel throughout.
The graphics are superb even to this day. The PS3 version adds some texture filtering, anti-aliasing, and of course the frame rate is 60 now. There’s also some extra bloom added so the lighting looks great. However, despite all this greatness, the game is pretty short and you can beat it in about 5-6 hours. All you do is slay all 16 colossi and you’re done. However, it is a very memorable experience.
Overall, Shadow of the Colossus was a milestone for the PS2, and is still one of the best games ever made. The frustrating controls and game mechanics keep this game from being as perfect as all the rest. Have patience and just deal with it. Every PlayStation fan should play this game.