Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Shadow of the Colossus is a game that always interested me, even before I really knew anything about it. Ever since I saw the game's cover art, I knew I needed to try it. I read a review or two, looked at the screenshots, and decided it would be worth a try. When I finally did get my hands on it, Shadow of the Colossus blew my mind with a pure sense of amazement more than anything else I have ever played. I knew that the scenery and views would be breathtaking, I knew that the giant fights would be incredible, but I can honestly say I was not expecting such a spectacular experience. But enough with how amazed I was; let's get to the heart of the matter.
There is very little exposition in Shadow of the Colossus. All you know is that you, the hero, are bringing an unconscious girl (presumably dead) to a giant temple, where hopefully you can save her by defeating all the sixteen great Colossi. It sets a mysterious mood, and works very well for the setting. You'll mainly be doing two things in Shadow of the Colossus: exploring the deep and beautiful lands and, of course, fighting the Colossi themselves. An integral part of both experiences includes the climbing mechanic. When near a ledge, or something else that you can climb, you can press and hold R1 to grab on and scale whatever it is you're climbing. You can clamber up all kinds of objects, such as large trees, lonely temples, and ancient ruins. The well-made system is especially needed when climbing the Colossi, since, as the name implies, these things are big.
They each have a unique appearance and behavior, and their awe-inspiring power is earth-shattering. The only way to bring these creatures down is to find their weak point and plunge your sword into it, sending forth a fountain of dark blood. That will deal damage to your foe, and after several hits, bring it down. Getting to the spot is usually the hard part. You might have to climb onto the massive creature's back, or shoot arrows at it from a distance, or perhaps knock it off a ledge; any number of things to get on top of it. Imagine a really, really huge figure made of stone looming above, raising its cold, blunted sword. At the last moment, you realize... it's aiming for you. You dash off clumsily as fast as you can go, leaping out of the way just in time as the massive weapon slams down into the ground, causing such a terrible shake of raw power, and sending so much dust and dirt spraying into the air, that you can't see anything for several moments. You pick yourself off the ground and look up to see its colossal form stomping towards you once more. That's when you realize that this whole quest thing might not be as simple as you first thought. These climatic battles are epic in the true sense of the word, and require just the right mix of action and thought. Although it's ocassionaly frustrating when you can't figure out what to do, it's hard to find fault here.
The relationship between player and horse is incredible. He's there the whole time, through thick and thin. You go through peril after peril with him, adventure after adventure, battle after battle. You can just hang out near a lake and jump off rocks onto his back as he gently nuzzles your hand; or you might get thrown off of him in the middle of a battle, and while you lie stunned on the ground, you see him stumble and fall, which somehow makes you feel so guilty for bringing him into this whole thing. I've had many happy times aimlessly riding him around the vast fields and valleys, firing arrows into the sky for no apparent reason. I didn't really realize it as I played, but I became more and more attached to my horse as time wore on, and ended up giving him nicknames and found many games to play with him. He's the one individual who is there for you, and it truly is a wonderful thing. This just adds to the beauty and depth of the game. You can't really explain Shadow of the Colossus. It's something that you would do well to try for yourself.
Never has a world been more beautiful and engaging than the one Shadow of the Colossus has created. From the sand that kicks up in the desert to the sparkling water of a lake, everything in Shadow of the Colossus is strikingly real. The animations for the characters and Colossi are life-like, the scenery is magnificent, and everything else is superb. The game has an understated haze to it, along with high-contrast lighting mixed with deep shadows, adding to the mysterious mood. The art design is fantastic, complete with intricately designed runes on the ancient towers and structures along with striking scenes of epic clashes. There are dozens of little touches you wouldn't expect, and several different kinds of small animals roam the colossal world, such as hawks and turtles. Every once in a while there will be some odd pop-ups for distant scenery as things grow closer, and the frame rate can dip slightly now and then, but that is easily excused by the fact that, not only is this one of the largest worlds I've ever seen in a game, but there is no loading time, not even a fade out, to get from place to place. You can travel across the entire map as a whole, from the depths of a cave out through the vast deserts, past the grassy plains, into quiet forests, all the way to the tip of a giant temple, which really enriches the experience.
The gameplay and graphics were superb, and the sound doesn't fall in standards. Once again, everything is spot on and realistic. It has all of the elements needed to bring the game together, and creates a believable world. The desolate sound of the winds blowing all around you creates a memorable atmosphere of a lonely yet beautiful world, with the beating of your horse's hoofs as the tempo for a journey. There is voice acting for the cutscenes, but the characters speak in a fictional language, which fits the game well. The music, however, is even better. From the dramatic fight songs to the victorious score that sometimes rings out while atop a massive Colossus completely brings you into the moment. Just listening to the music allows you to see the enourmus monsters in your mind, as the drums boom out the footsteps and the powerful-sounding horns and strings warn of their great might. This is quite simply some of the most masterful and greatest music I have ever heard, and I love every piece.
There are sixteen Colossi in all, all of which aren't overly difficult. Although it takes quite a bit of time to defeat every one of them, you'll find yourself wishing it wasn't all over at the end. However, the world is so big, it will take a long time to explore it all. And even if you do, you can fight the Colossi over again (with several different modes), find secrets along the way, and more. There's a lot packaged into this game, but I wouldn't want to spoil any of it for you; so in the end, the value is actually much better than you might think.