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Shadow of the Colossus
  opened by paleface at 03:01:34 11/03/05  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Adventure; reg=NA]
I didn't get into Ico too much; well, okay, so I pretty much got stuck at the very first puzzle, and haven't yet gone back. But I mean to, I really do...only...the team's follow-up, Shadow of the Colossus, is so much more engaging.
Like Ico, Shadow sets a meticulously animated, adventurous boy in a barren, nearly colorless, yet breathtakingly atmospheric world, trying to save a girl. Good way to start an epic, really. And while both deal with solving puzzles encountered in the course of a grand adventure, while Ico's were of the sit back and ponder, then go push a block variety, Shadow's puzzles have you wondering how in the heck you're going to take down a 200-foot giant armed only with a bow and magic sword.
Oh, and a horse. Riding around on the horse through this scenic world is a pure joy. The horse AI snorts, shies, charges, follows, and worries just like you'd think a big horse should. Your sword does this cool glowy thing to point you in the direction of your next colossal foe, you jump on your horse's back, put your heels to him, and roaring off you go.
Each colossi appears to have a different weak spot. You've got to use your puny weapons, plus your incredible skills of clinging and climbing, to locate the beast's weakness, get to it, and give it the killing blow--or three.
It's nothing but a boss rush mode! Yes, the game doesn't mess around; it's just one big huge boss dude after another. They went straight for a awestriking feeling of massive scale, and they nailed it. Just having a colossus turn, spot you, and growl, is a blood-chilling experience. And then actually climbing up on them while they're kicking around, trying to squish you--woo!
The subdued palettes, massive barren expanses, and smoothly flowing animations make for quite the lovely experience. The orchestral score is one of the best music soundtracks I can recall hearing--and the music changes depending on just how bad the beastie wants to squish you. Extra points for not only supporting progressive-scan output--nearly unheard-of even in these latter PS2 days--but enabling you to switch to it in the game menus, something that probably only a few other PS2 games allow. Widescreen support is here as well, and I've seen it, and it is neat. The massive scenes can sometimes push the console to its limits, as you see the framerate stagger a bit, but the epic feeling that these scenes give you is worth the price, and anyway the action is more of the careful, planned variety than the twitch variety that would be harmed by framerate inconsistency.
A beautiful, mold-breaking game--and a very fun one. I suppose I should go finish Ico first, but dang, those colossi are such a rush.
  paleface 03:05:16 11/03/05
What with those massive bosses running around, it's easy for me to forget to mention the little things that help to make this game so special. But things like the smooth blur transition when going to the pause (map) screen, the very slick motion blur effect when spinning the camera around, and the eagle that may come and check you out as you ride your horse past a certain spot of the beginning castle should not be overlooked, as they add to the mystery and style of the game immensely. If only every game had this kind of attention to detail.

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