PC ¦ PlayStation 3 ¦ Xbox 360 ¦ Wii ¦ DS ¦ PSP ¦ Others ¦ DGC Grade Table

Shadow of the Colossus PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Shadow of the Colossus, an introduction.

I don't think there is any doubt that Shadow of the Colossus is the most anticipated PlayStation 2 game for quite a while. The reason for this of course is that the game has been created by the developers who were responsible for Ico, a game that most regard as the finest ever on the PlayStation 2. However, whilst some have labelled Shadow of the Colossus as the sequel to Ico, that isn't actually the case. In fact Shadow of the Colossus is a very different type of game.

What's the game about?

In Shadow of the Colossus you'll control a traveller on horseback who, at the beginning of the game, is making his way to a temple with his young love who has recently passed away. It was a voice from the heavens that inspired this traveller to travel to this temple with the young woman's body and after placing her on an altar he is then told what he must do to restore her spirit to her body. Essentially this traveller must seek out and destroy 16 Colossi. Only then will his love's spirit be restored to her body. There's no levelling up, no item finding or any of the usual stuff. The task is simply to locate each of the Colossi and defeat them. The traveller is armed with nothing more than his sword, his bow and his wits.

What's good about the game?

If someone were to suggest that a game that contained little more than a total of 16 boss fights would be amazing you'd think they were being silly. Such a crude description of Shadow of the Colossus doesn't do the game any justice at all though and each of the 16 gargantuan battles that await you is really something else. Each one would have provided a fitting final boss to any RPG or action game you've ever played and to have 16 of these huge beasts in one game is an amazing experience. Even the first of these Colossi that you'll have to battle will stun you as he is huge. I don't think I've ever seen enemies this large in a game. Of course having large enemies doesn't really make the game special. It's the way you have to defeat these Colossi that really makes the game a memorable experience.

To begin with you'll have to find the Colossi. The traveller will do this by holding up his sword which will then emit a beam of light in the direction of the next Colossi. Riding his trusty steed Agro, the traveller will cross all kinds of terrain and landscapes in an effort to seek out the next Colossi and when he eventually finds him the battle will then begin. The Colossi can't just be attacked in a random fashion. Each of them have weak spots known as vitals and you can only hurt the Colossi by hitting these points. Naturally these vitals are not in the easiest of places. They can be on the back of a leg, on a creature's bottom, on their head and even on the soles of their feet. The Colossi are all of a different nature too. Some are on two legs, some on four and there's even winged Colossi to deal with. Actually getting to a Colossi's vitals is a real challenge in most cases as you'll have to climb up the beasts. What makes this climbing a real challenge is that there are only certain parts that can be climbed (the hairy parts) and you'll have to contend with the physics of these creatures trying to shake you off. You can't maintain your grip continuously either. There is a grip gauge, which depletes when the traveller is holding on, and when this is depleted he will not be able to maintain his grip. Naturally the Colossi will try to attack you and when they do, they do a massive amount of damage. You have a health bar and while there are no health potions or such like, the bar will slowly refill if you avoid getting hit for a while. Should you be killed (and yes a single hit can take you out in some cases) you are simply put back at the start of the battle so you don't have to find the Colossi again.

What's not so good about the game?

The biggest problem some gamers will have is that the game isn't Ico 2. Really there isn't a lot to pick fault with here and the only disappointment some gamers might have is that they were expecting something very different. The control system does feel a little odd to begin with but after half an hour or so you will have adjusted to it, so that really isn't an issue. Camera control can be a little problematic at times but again it's not a major problem and after the battle with the first of the Colossi, you won't really have an issue with it. Frame rate drops are frequent and it's understandable given the size of the enemies and the size of the environments. The frame rate dips are unfortunate but are never so low as to make combat awkward, which is all that counts really.

How does it look?

It's fair to say that Shadow of the Colossus asks a lot of the PlayStation 2 and the console only just about delivers. The Colossi are absolutely huge (really I can't overemphasis just how big these enemies are) and are nicely detailed. The landscapes you'll travel around to get to the Colossi are very good too and considering this game is running on the PlayStation 2, there are some impressive environmental lighting effects on display. As we've just mentioned there are some frame rate dips and they are noticeable but it's no surprise really given the amount of work the aging console is being asked to do in Shadow of the Colossus.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The speech in Shadow of the Colossus is in Japanese, not English, so therefore subtitles are a necessity, which is good news for deaf gamers. All important dialogue is shown in text which means you'll be able to follow the story. Not every item of speech is subtitled though. For instance when the traveller calls for his horse, Agro, there are no subtitles for this. When the grip meter is almost depleted it will emit a beeping noise and there are no captions for this, although the gauge is placed on the bottom right of the screen and is easy to see at all times so it's not really a problem.

Final thoughts.

When reviewing a game it's always customary to draw comparisons with other games but in the case of Shadow of the Colossus that really isn't possible as there hasn't really been anything like it before. Essentially the game is a collection of 16 amazing boss fights. Had these fights been the usual kind of thing then this game would have been an absolute flop. However, all of these fights are an amazing experience as they require a lot of thought and when you've defeated each of the Colossi it feels very satisfying. It's not a game for everyone though. Those expecting to do other things and wanting more of a story will be disappointed but those who do take a liking to the game will find it one of the most memorable on the PlayStation 2 to date.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Shadow of the Colossus is a completely original gaming experience that you really have to play to appreciate just how good it is. Never before have you fought enemies like the Colossi and the experience is truly amazing.