Shadow of the Colossus

Console: Playstation 2
No. of Players: 1
Developed by: SCEI
Release Date: October 18, 2005
Released by: SONY

Shadow of the Colossus
Story 90/100

The story of Shadow of the Colossus is very open-ended. Even as you finish the game there is no clear answer to who anyone is. All you know is that the main character has brought a dead girl to the ‘Forbidden Lands’ following a legend that he can bring her back to life there. We don’t know who she is all that we know about her is that her name is “Mono”. We aren’t told why he brought her here or why he wants to resurrect her. The only thing you are told is that she was sacrificed and the main character wants to bring her back.

There in the temple where he places her to rest, the main character (who we aren’t told his name but is called “Wander” in the credits, possibly referring to the simple fact that he is wondering the lands looking for a way to revive Mono) meets a being called Dormin. Dormin is a god-like being that speaks from the light coming through from the sky. Dormin originally tries to scare and kill Wander, but after Dormin sees that Wander has the “Ancient Sword” Dormin stops the attack. (We aren’t told where Wander got the sword from either by the way.)

Dormin tells Wander that there is only one way to bring the girl back is to defeat the Colossi that are scattered around the Forbidden Land. Only then will Dormin have the power to bring her back. Dormin warns Wander that in order for him to bring Mono back Wander will have to pay a heavy price. Wander agrees and sets out on his mission to destroy the Colossus. Guided by the light of the Ancient Sword Wander searches the Forbidden Land to find and defeat the 16 Colossal beasts.

As simple as it seems the story seems there is a lot of mystery and suspicion behind it. Firstly having been given such little information about the character, it drives you to want to finish the game and find out more. The ending might leave you more confused that you were when you started the game however.

The few cut scenes that are in the game—mainly the ones following after you defeat a Colossi—are very ambiguous and it makes you curious as to what they are trying to imply. The story being so open-ended gives you a lot of freedom to create your own background story. Many fans of the game have come up with interesting theories as to why Wander brought the girl to the Forbidden, who Dormin really is and etc. Except for the ending, which gives you a bit more information to work with, you pretty much have say as to what you think is going on.

Gameplay 100/100

How many ways can a person say amazing! The gameplay is just to die for! A while back I read an article in GamePro magazine about what’s wrong in video games. Things that were mentioned were: games’ obsession with random boxes scattered around the game’s universe, the use of the “elements” i.e. fire, water, air, ground etc; the fact that your character is the savior the world. Well there are more but that’s not my point, my point is that the article was completely right; Shadow of the Colossus travels on a different path.

Now this might be a shocker but there are no side quests, no other enemies besides the 16 Colossus, no treasure chest, no other weapons besides the ones you start out with, and no other characters besides Wander, Mono, Dormin, and a priest that makes an appearance at the end. A very small cast indeed, don’t you think? Don’t worry that’s a rhetorical question.

Game play is awesome due to several things. The first being that it’s so simple and yet at the same time it’s really requires you to think. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but bear with me. The only sort of battling you do is battling the Colossi, simple right? Well, yes and no. You see the only things you have to kill the Colossi with your sword and bow-and-arrow. It seems like an impossible feat but it can be done, it just requires you to think hard and make use of your surroundings. Most of the things you’ll have to do is use the environment around you to climb aboard the Colossi and find their weak spot while holding on for dear life because the Colossi will try to shack your off and they will try hard! There is no clear why to do it, you just have to figure out how. You don’t have any magic, special weapons or special moves to help you, and no combos for people that love button-smashing. That’s the challenge of the game and that’s its main attraction. Since there are no distractions you’re just left with the core. It’s not easy but it’s very rewarding at the end.

One thing that’s great about the game is the fact that there is no leveling up, or more items to collect, no abilities to learn and etc. I know it might not sound very interesting if nothing new will be happening but it will be.

You’ll be playing this game and be astounded by the simplicity of it and at the same time astounded by the sheer magnitude of what you are actually doing. You are destroying the Colossi, these beasts are literally larger than the screen!

Graphics 100/100

The graphics aren’t the cell-shaded favorites of most fans but they are still amazing. The first thing you will take notice of is the world you are playing in, and how realistic it is. Literally never seen such a realistic world in my game-playing life. The world is huge and, I’m making an estimation here, but 95% of the world is free to explore. Mind you there are no enemies or hidden treasures but still it’s an amazing ride on the horse to just go exploring. It took me close to an half an hour to explore the southern side of the Forbidden Land and I enjoyed every moment of it. I would say a good comparison would be the Calm Lands from Final Fantasy X and X-2 and take three steps up from that. It is just an amazing thing to see.

However the world is just part of it. The next amazing thing about this game in terms of graphics has to be the Colossi themselves. Each Colossi is an amazing sight to behold. Each of them is modeled after something, and it’s clear what that is right off the bat, but what’s amazing about is the realism and contextual amazement each Colossus has, each with their own distinct characteristics which is made clear by the moments and gestures.

The last thing that proves how amazing the graphics are in this game is with the game mechanics. A good example is how the horse moves. Now in many games that I’ve played where you had the ability to ride a horse, it was simply a matter of getting on the horse and pushing a button. Now that’s simple but most of the time it wasn’t very realistic and the horse pretty much went in 7 directions: straight, left, right, 45° degrees right and 45°degrees left—well that’s all different in this game. First of all the horse, whose name in Argo, has a much more intelligent A.I. than most bosses in other games. The horse will freely wonder on its own. You can call on him when you need him and he’ll usually follow you. Also he won’t kill himself because when a cliff is nearby he’ll automatically stop to save himself. Also he gallops like a real horse and that’s because it requires you to do more than just press a button and the direction pad. It will take both analog sticks to control the horse smoothly. This might seem tedious and annoying at first but once you get the hang of it, it runs (pun) very smoothly. And the horse moves like a real horse would.

The most obvious thing to point out is the interaction between the Colossi, the environment and the main character Wander. When the Colossi move and shake the earth, the earth literally shakes and you stake with it. Cool, huh? Dirt and dust is being thrown into the air and you are stumbling to just stand up. The Colossi, in the exception to a few instances where they can’t move because they are so huge, are very responsive to you. Their A.I. is very impressive which just makes defeating them even better.

Controls and Camera 90/100

Controls are so simple! You have just the basics to work with so you don’t have to worry about combos or anything. This makes the game much more difficult because all you have to work with is your sword and bow-and-arrow. You’ll have to think through most battles because your button-smashing ability won’t do you much good. Simply because you’ll have to jump and angle yourself correctly to make the leap, while still holding onto the edge of the pillar, or one of many instances like that one. Plus since the only way to do damage to the Colossi is to hit their weak spot, which is about 0.05 of their body size, you’ll have to do all sorts of stuff to get up there and once your there you don’t want to fall.

The controls will take a few minutes to get used and will become second nature to you.

However, the camera is another story. The camera seems, at times, very out of control. It never seems centered on the main character and several times while playing the camera just took over and went back to the default angle—which didn’t really help me. Still once you learn how to use both at the same time you shouldn’t have a problem. I suggest spending some time just strolling around getting use to everything.

Personal Thoughts

Truly a game that stands out amongst the crowd. It was great to play it all the way through. It’s hard for me to say why this game is so amazing. Usually all the characteristics that this game has are the things you don’t want to have in other games; however, for some reason it works stellar in this game. I think it’s because it was all intentional. The game was meant to be this way. You actually get to see the good to hot having to worry about countless enemies that just annoy you and just focus on what’s important: the bosses. Shadow of the Colossus took a risk removing traditionally always acceptable features in games for something new and different. But it worked well. Shadow of the Colossus is a game not like many others. A game with new spins on the world of video games. There’s an interesting story–well not so much interesting as it is mysterious—and a beautiful world to explore. And most importantly of all: a breath of fresh air from the standard routine of game play. This is worth a try just for the experience alone.

Final Grade 90/100

By Cherubim

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.