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Hands On: Shadow Of The Colossus

Standing on the shoulders of giants.

You know, there’s a reason for the high definition re-releases of both Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus being so late to the party, but it’s hard not to assume it’s purely for marketing purposes.  Releasing the pair as late as possible (to drum up hype for The Last Guardian) is a smart idea, but technically at least it’s a little bit tricky to see just where all that precious development time has gone to.

Atmosphere still might not be done as well anywhere else.
Sure, it’s naturally better looking than the PS2 original, but in Sony’s media room at E3, against the likes of Journey and Uncharted 3, Shadow carries an air of ‘last-gen’ that no amount of upscaling and added particle effects is going to take away.  Make no mistake, it’s still a beautiful game in terms of scale and scope, but it’s looking old now, and although the textures have been tweaked and the lighting boosted a tad, little has changed.

Naturally, it’s now much, much smoother in terms of frame rate, and this is a huge thing as anyone that played the original would know.  Shadow pushed the PlayStation 2 beyond its limits, but what was once a crawling, juddery mess is locked at 30 fps – it makes a big difference, especially on horseback and half way up one of the numerous titular colossi.  The frame rate holds up in 3D too, which at least provided some depth to the visuals.

The old UI is an eyesore, though – at least at this stage; remnants of the PS2 version are echoed in poor low resolution typography and ugly menus, and new features (like a 3D slider) are shoehorned in – but it was never a title that really needed anything more than the most basic of overlays.  What still rings true, above all these niggles and issues, is the art – it’s still picture perfect and although technically dated, the character designs are exemplary and utterly wonderful.

The gameplay is still a real pleasure.
And, of course, it’s an amazing game.  From your first outings as Wander leaves the shrine, scrambling to get onto Agro the horse (yes, mounting is still a bit buggy) and discovering your first enemy, Shadow of the Colossus is a brilliant ride.  The subtle, almost invisible storytelling is a joy, and the playful exploration aspects are a particular delight.  None of that has dulled over the years, and anyone that didn’t play this before will relish the re-release.

But yes, it is a re-release.  This isn’t a remake by any stretch – the visuals are better but not by a massive leap – but if you go into this just expecting a stunning game that aspect won’t disappoint.  And as a refresher for The Last Guardian, this and Ico (arguably the better of the two here) are must haves.  We look forward to the final version of the game, and bringing down those colossi.

  1. Crocadillian
    Since: Feb 2011

    Oh, I thought that the game would have been reworked at least a little bit. Both these games I missed out on though, and I probably owe it to myself to play them, especially with their, ‘critical acclaim’ :3.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:05.
    • rht992
      Since: Apr 2009

      same but with all the new stuff coming out it could be a while longer before i get my hands on them :(

      Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 18:06.
  2. Carl
    Since: Jan 2009

    Still looks most better than most “next-gen” games, when running on PS2.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:13.
  3. Youles
    Since: Feb 2011

    I already have these and completed them…but the trophies, what about the trophies?! Must I buy them again :(

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:13.
  4. bacon_nuts
    Since: Mar 2011

    I dont even care that it doesn’t look that much better, the atmosphere, emotional connection to characters, music and most of all gameplay are astoundingly awesome.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:14.
    • Akuar
      Since: Jul 2010

      Same, Shadow is a beautiful game, like no other. One of the definite highlights of the year for me.

      Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:26.
  5. hazelam
    Since: Feb 2009

    i’ve got the ps2 version, and i’m somewhat ashamed to admit i couldn’t even beat the first colossus.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:16.
    • BrainDiver
      Since: Feb 2011

      I picked SoTC up shortly after I got my first PS3, and am ashamed to say I was beaten by the terrible framerate before I even GOT to the first colossus ;p

      Comment posted on 24/06/2011 at 04:21.
  6. Forrest_01
    Since: Jun 2009

    Still don’t know whether these games would be worth my time, as I mainly have no idea what sort of games they are, so not entirely sure I would enjoy them!!

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:20.
    • DrNate86
      Since: Apr 2010

      I played a bit of the PS2 version a while back. It’s a very slow and thoughtful game. You spend a lot of time just riding your horse around. The action on the Colossi is great, very similar to the Castlevania titans if you ever played that. There are long periods of nothing but riding past scenery though, so it depends if you find that appealing or dull really!

      Comment posted on 24/06/2011 at 17:33.
  7. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    Really looking forward to playing SotC as I never played it before. Now you’ve given me second thoughts on if it’s worth the full price. Bargin bin maybe?

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:34.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      If you’re looking to play SOTC try to make sure Ico is under your belt first. It’ll all make sense, I promise.

      Obviously if you’ve played Ico then ignore this comment. :)

      Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:49.
      • gazzagb
        Master of speling mitakse
        Since: Feb 2009

        Played neither, but I’m only really interested in SotC, Ico looks a bit boring.

        Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 18:53.
      • skibadee
        Since: Oct 2009

        will do that Mike :)

        Comment posted on 24/06/2011 at 02:40.
  8. iiekka
    Since: Feb 2009

    been buying lots of ps2 games recently so great stuff out on that console, was looking at getting these 2 before i heard of the remake defo gona pick it up.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 17:49.
  9. Origami Killer
    Since: May 2010

    i feel bad that i have never played this game, but a bit disappointing that they havnt improved it that much :/

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 19:06.
    • shields_t
      Since: Oct 2008

      Still got the Sly Fox games to play through for the first time but I reckon this could still make my list.

      Comment posted on 24/06/2011 at 08:44.
  10. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    I’m not looking for current gen visuals from any of the remakes, just for them to look as good on my HDtv as they did when i first played them on Sdtv. So far i’ve been delighted with GoW collection and BG&E HD and i’m sure Ico/SotC will be an absolute pleasure to play again.

    Comment posted on 23/06/2011 at 19:10.
    • BrainDiver
      Since: Feb 2011

      My sentiments exactly. Well said :)

      Comment posted on 24/06/2011 at 04:25.

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