Shadow of the Colossus Review

Shadow of the Colossus is, simply, one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in years. You cannot help but love this game, yet the uniqueness of the title alone forces a very critical eye. I’m happy to say that Shadow of the Colossus will smack down every critic with a breathtaking gameplay experience. I was immensely skeptical of the basic premise of the game – all boss battles, all the time – but was captivated by the second battle. You play a young hero who must hunt and destroy 16 Colossi to give life back to a fallen love. Why? I dunno. Cause a voice in a temple told you? The game is shrouded in mystery, and the lack of exposition only brings the gameplay to you faster, and with passion that is simultaneously vicious and reserved. Literally, you’re facing the first Colossus within ten minutes of starting the game: no boring storytelling, no cheap pop theme song. Anybody who is looking for a Final FantasyÂ-type story will be disappointed, the story is left for the gamer to discover alone.

Each Colossus you face poses a new challenge: you must find and attack any number of mystical symbols on the beast. This is no easy task, as you’re basically fighting beasts the size of tanks, airplanes, and entire city blocks. One of the greatest features is the physical battle on the beast. Since you’re fighting on a living creature (sort of), each footstep will shake you, and the animations on the Colossi are truly stunning. Here is where the game distinguishes itself: each beast is a puzzle, and you must figure out how to mount, scale, and defeat each beast on your own. At your disposal are a horse, a magic sword, and a bow. The level-up system is a rare one: it doesn’t exist. You play the entire game with your hands, your sword, your steed, your bow, and your brain.

The controls are, like the rest of the game, very simple. Each button does something, with no true combos to rack up points (if there were points, which there are not). The only considerable fault with the game lies with the controls. They aren’t totally intuitive (i.e.: Triangle to Jump) . You’ll have to think before pressing for the first few battles if you use the default configuration. Fortunately, you can switch the buttons around as much as you want in the options menu.

During the gameplay, the graphics in Shadow of the Colossus are fluid, breathtaking, and realistic. Anyone looking for a busy horizon should look elsewhere. The scenery is beautifully bare and stunningly real, and the world is vast. The natural beauty in this game surpasses anything I’ve ever seen on a screen in my lifetime. Canyons give way to falling lakes, meadows merge with geyser-filled lakebeds, and lush green valleys play host to your adventure. Fog permeates the landscape, and sunlight effects are utilized well in lens flares, reflections, and glare. The hair on the hero, and the horse could be better animated, but those are the only visual drawbacks to an otherwise incredible graphical palette. The design on the Colossi is amazingly imaginative, combining dinosaurs, mythic beasts, and architecture into a truly incredible visual.

The sound quality for the title is high, never have I heard better natural sounds in a game. Especially delightful are the sounds your horse makes, and the quality is apparent when you move from one bit of terrain to another and hear the hooves move from stone, to grass, to sand. The musical orchestration is something to look forward to; each Colossus has a slightly different score. Take too long, though, and the score will reach its’ end and start over, while you’re in mid-battle.

Overall, Shadow of the Colossus is equal parts puzzle and action. Figuring out how to defeat each Colossus is as rewarding, if not more rewarding, than actually defeating the beast itself. The complex gameplay is contrasted well by the bare story, basic controls, and pristine graphics, but may not be the best bet for younger gamers. The title is much like a fine cigar, a complex wine, or a well-aged cheese: best for those with patience and an understanding of the uniqueness of Shadow of the Colossus. For those who can appreciate it, the game will stay enjoyable from start to finish, especially when you consider that the game must be played through at least three times to unveil all of the secrets. By the end, you’ll be on top of your house, stabbing at your chimney with a chef’s knife, hoping that you could visit the beautiful world of Shadow of the Colossus for a while longer. This is a gaming masterpiece.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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