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March 6, 2006
Shadow of the Colossus - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
16/2/2006SonySony1MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
320KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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The game is artistically stunning.
It's a bloody crime. The way Sony Europe failed to push ICO into millions of gamers consoles in the territory is still a mystery to those that have played it. The game was fresh, gorgeous, and a complete joy to play. The game wasn't about the most polygons, the best times or the biggest weapons. At its heart Sony Japan's title is one of the most pure and enjoyable puzzle solving titles ever. Now the team that brought us ICO is unleashing their second game, Shadow of the Colossus. While it's not a sequel there is more then a passing resemblance.

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Riding across the plains.
Known as Wanda and Colossus in Japan the game is centered around a young man in an ancient land. One day he discovers the lifeless body of a young girl whose soul is trapped in his horse. After traveling the lands he enters a large shrine which, upon entering, looks like endless fields. He soon discovers (through a god-like voice) that the only way to revive the girl is to defeat giant beasts that live in the lands.

Using your horse you need to swiftly travel over plains to awaken and then catch up to the giant colossi. When you get close enough you simply press the triangle button to jump onto the monsters, hold down R1 to hang onto them, and climb up to attack their weak spots. Inevitably these are usually at the furthest point from where you start, or at least the most difficult spot to reach. Sounds pretty easy really right? Well its not. As you're climbing the monsters they keep on moving and you must quickly adapt to their new configuration. Ledges that were there disappear while new ones are created. It really isn't too dissimilar to progressing though an ever changing maze.

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Riding beside the enemy.
Shadow of the Colossus includes 16 creatures in total to defeat, each of which is vastly different from the next. To do this you are equipped with a sword and bow and arrow, each useful at the right moment. Some look like giant human-type vehicles while others are more bird-like taking to the skies making your task all the more difficult. Each has its own personality and unique methods to be defeated. One thing is certain, when they spot you, or you start attacking them they get pretty pissed and will do all manner of things to try and stop you, be it attacking with a weapon, stomping on you, or shaking violently.

There are a couple of neat bonuses when you complete the game. Firstly you'll unlock a harder difficulty level but perhaps more exciting is the Time Attack which, as the name suggests, will time you against the colossi. As well as these unlockables the game includes a nice little making of video, and trailer for ICO.

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Attacking the weak spot.
The game isn't without its small problems. Sometimes it's hard to get a grasp of where' you're meant to go, or some things that look like ledges aren't and you'll soon be plummeting back to the ground. The controls also take a bit of getting used to but the game gives you some platform sections before reaching the first colossus to help train you while the first colossus is also fairly easy to navigate. I'm also a little disappointed that there aren't more creatures to attack. I'm not talking full colossus either, even some smaller creatures to battle could have been fun. I was also extremely disappointed by the storyline which, well, is virtually non-existent for the vast majority of the game and really is one area where they could have put in a bit more effort. Finally the game could have been a bit longer. The 16 colossi won't take too long to defeat (some as little as 15-20 minutes) so the entire game lasts around 8-10 hours, a little on the short side still for us.

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Those monsters are massive!
One of the hardest areas to score in this game was the graphics. From an artistic standpoint this game is simply astounding. Be it the wide open plains, the gorgeous buildings, or the stunning enemy colossus' everything is simply jaw droppingly gorgeous. If there was an award for Artistic Design in a Video Game at the Academy Awards this would win hands down. As I mentioned in the preview it's not until you see Shadow of the Colossus in motion to get a sense of scale for the enemies. They are massive, and would fill many screens - hence the need to often manually move the camera.

Unfortunately the game is let down graphically in the technical side. The game does look a bit rough around the edges at times with a choppy frame rate in places, and rather muted colours. There is some significant draw-in and pop-up in places, especially when you're riding around at high speed. Worse is the camera which require some of the most heavy manipulation I've seen in a game in recent years, and is certainly distracting to the gameplay in places. Fortunately the Shadow of the Colossus does include both 60Hz and Widescreen modes.

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The second colossus.
Audio in the game is extremely impressive. With such large creatures moving across the game world you'd expect plenty of bass as they plant their feet, and that's exactly what you get. The music is generally orchestra based with some gothic styled chants also helping to set the mood. If there's one area which slightly disappoints it's the speech, which isn't English - or indeed any known language. Still, it does give the game a sense of mystical epicness.

While it struggles technically (I'd give my right arm for an updated PS3 version with silky smooth graphics) Shadow of the Colossus still an astonishing title deserving to sell millions of copies. This is certainly one to add to the collection.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSArtistically its worth 99%, technically 60%. Overall it's solid.
72%
SOUNDGreat music and effects really adds plenty of atmosphere to this game.
86%
GAMEPLAYThis game is pure genius, and pure enjoyment. Superb gameplay.
94%
VALUEOne of the most enjoyable games that you'll play over several times.
83%
OVERALLShadow of the Colossus isn't the best game technically, but is one of the greatest achievements in gameplay in the entire history of video games. One to add to your collections at all costs - fortunately it's only $AU79.95 for you!
87%

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