Game: "Shadow of the Colossus"
System: PlayStation 2
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Sony

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 1/13/2008

Review: Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most engrossing, captivating games I have ever played, and there is no doubt that it belongs firmly cemented on my "Top Five Favorite Games of All-Time" list. The designers took a huge gamble in this game comprised of nothing but sixteen epic boss fights, but by eliminating the tedium of level grinding, it allowed them to focus all of their energy on the kinds of battles that tend to be the most enjoyable part of any game. Why bother with all the crap you normally have to trudge through to get to the good stuff, when you can just skip past all that and get straight to the main event you came for in the first place?

But it's not as if you simply teleport from boss to boss. No, you have to travel the countryside, seeking the next colossus on your hit list, and crossing over some beautiful terrain in the process. Despite the graphical limitations of the PS2, this is one of the most gorgeous games I have ever seen. There are no enemies to distract you from the breathtaking scenery, and the completely barren landscape does far more for the game's moody atmosphere than any number of smallfry goblin fights ever could. You get the real sense as you travel the sparse terrain that something terrible happened here. Similarly, the narrative is minimalistic as well, giving you just the basics you need to understand why you're here doing what you're doing. You fill in the blanks yourself. It doesn't sound like it should be so compelling, but somehow it is.

And then of course there are the colossi themselves. Just when you think you've gotten the basic pattern and expect the next colossus to be even bigger yet, they throw you a curveball and you're fighting something you didn't see coming. Figuring out how to defeat each colossus is the fun part, as simply bombarding it with everything you've got won't suffice. Each one has a weakness, and the game requires you to pay close attention to the clues in order to figure out what that weakness is. Some colossi are easy, some are insanely challenging, but all are fun, and after you defeat the game you can go back to your temple headquarters and instantly teleport back to your favorite battles, replaying them again and again to try to beat your old times.

This is one of those games that's so epic and cinematic in scope that it's nearly as much fun to watch as it is to play. I enjoy seeing my friends playing the game for the first time, and watching how quickly they manage to solve the puzzles compared to my own first trek through the game. This game is addictive as hell, too; you'll find yourself wanting to get to the next colossus "just to see what it looks like" before you call it a day, and next thing you know you'll have fought three more than you planned. If you've never played this game, you owe it to yourself to check it out. And if you don't like action games, watch a friend play through it. This is a beautiful, awesome journey that demands to be seen if not experienced.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Jan 14th, 2008, 06:11 AM
I kind of sputtered out after the fifth colossus and never bothered to finish the game. I suppose I just found the journey to the temple and back to the colossi to be tedious after a while.
drifting in the void
Jan 14th, 2008, 06:12 AM
The Sotc-Land has this warm-emptiness to it, this feeling that itīs kind of "dead, but itīs okay", kind of a gentle sadness. (Havenīt played through it yet, so I donīt know what really happened there). The only downfall is the occasional framerate slowdown imho.
Waiting for the worms.
Jan 14th, 2008, 07:25 AM
I beat this one once, and that was enough. The boss fights were incredible, the landscape beautiful, and the controls felt stiff and slow. I'm stiff and slow. I don't want my vidjagames reminding me of that!
That damn kid
Jan 14th, 2008, 07:28 AM
This game kicked alot of ass, although my cousins didnt know how to find the colossi and never even saw the first one : /
Jan 14th, 2008, 10:03 AM
I never got to play this one. I did see it featured prominently in "Reign Over Me" though. I thought it looked really fun. I like epic boss fights, maybe if it is or becomes one of the greatest hits titles I might check it out though.
Space Viking Repo Man
Jan 14th, 2008, 10:12 AM
Hasn't it been a Greatest Hit for a while now?
Jan 14th, 2008, 10:35 AM
I agree with Nick. I enjoyed the beauty of the game, but the pace was too slow and there wasn't anything else but temple, boss fight, temple, boss fight, temple, boss fight. Yawn. I got stuck on one of the four legged bosses (where you had to shoot the bottom of it's feet with arrows or something) and just thought "why even bother?".
Ants Who Ruin Your Dinner
Jan 14th, 2008, 12:47 PM
I hate this game.

I don't think it's a stretch to say the camera is the worst I've yet dealt with.

The colossi fights are easy, drawn out, and tedious. The catfish where you plod around in this giant lake, trying to align yourself to get scooped up by its tail while avoiding those electrified barbs but the wanderer swims so slow and the camera and depth perception throw you off so much it takes forever to actually do this, and when you DO get on it, stab out the spines, and get to the head it submerges and you have to let go and do it aaaaaaall over again. The salamander I had to flip over ten times to kill the first time, though in a replay to get screenshots I discovered a way to cut it down to five, which takes it from "ridiculous" to "really unnecessary". The kappa where a glitch or oversight has the Dormin telling you to abandon what you're doing when you climb up its back, which gets you where you need to be. The dragon I figured out how to ground in two seconds, then took me another half hour of fluff to actually kill it. The final which I had to climb no less than five times because whenever I tried to jump from its left bicep to its right hand, the sloppy camera and controls would somehow put me on its tricep with my only option being to let go and climb up it again, climbing which amounts to "hold R1 and tap Triangle". Also, you're given the answers to fifteen of the sixteen colossi, either by the Dormin or the sword.

I guess I can see how the world could have been beautiful had more attention been put into the world and making it look less like a computer generated it and getting the grid patterns off everything, instead of seeing how high they could crank the fog and bloom.

It's riddled with cliches. The only reason the first lion is afraid of fire is because some law book out there says "beasts are afraid of fire". It's inflammable, which throws out "it can get hurt by fire" and it lives in a small temple with four giant candelabras, which throws out "it doesn't understand fire". The "big reveal" at the end can be seen coming a mile away because it's been used in just about every cartoon ever made. Hell, the game's bloody name is a cliche.

Also, I've determined that the only explanation for the plot and world is that the wanderer is Dracula incarnate. Or more likely, somebody was too caught up in trying to rip off Vagrant Story that they overlooked WHY what happened in Vagrant Story happened.
Ancient Mariner
Jan 14th, 2008, 03:22 PM
"I TOTALLY HATED EVERY PART OF THIS GODDAM GAME BUT I Played It All the way through anyway"
Jan 14th, 2008, 04:10 PM
Is there only a handful of people who can appreciate artistic merit nowadays?

I loved the game anyway and thought it frustrated just enough to challenge me without either being piss easy or sweetcorn-in-your-shit hard. The roaming around the epic landscape almost made me gasp in adulation more than once. Sure the game had some issues with the camera and such but the overall feel of the game overcomes the problems.
Your Doing It Wrong
Jan 14th, 2008, 07:52 PM
I loved the game, i loved the visuals, i loved the gameplay, i loved it all!
Forum Virgin
Jan 14th, 2008, 09:39 PM
I've only played bits and pieces of the game, as I don't own it myself, but this is a fairly spot on review. The only part that I can add (and some may disagree with me here) is the sense of feeling bad for the Colossi. It's almost as if your the bad guy in all this, yet due to the story telling, your only getting a glimpse of what's actually going on. Great review proto!
Dr.Acula MD
Jan 14th, 2008, 11:40 PM
I adored this game after absolutely loathing Ico. I couldn't stand Ico and found it bland. I thought that SotC added a sense of epicness to the game world and I love the whole thought of an entire region (big enough for SIXTEEN COLOSSI to roam around) being completely cut off from everything and forgotten....

Certainly one of my fave PS2 games of all time.
Jan 15th, 2008, 12:25 AM
Unforutnately, I never got past the demo of this from one of the Jampacks. I'd heard the rave reviews, though it was a great concept for a game, and did find it visually stunning. Unfortunately, I have to agree with folks about the clunky controls. Now, I'm no savant, but I've been gaming for odd-on 20+ years and when I can't grasp the controls in a 15-minute demo, it totally turns me off from playing the game. I don't want to have to think about what my fingers are doing on what buttons. I want to be able to react to what I'm seeing on the screen without having to think "Okay, do I hit X and L1 or do I hit X and O? O twice?" And yeah, hated the camera, too. Some of the jumps, even in the demo, were impossible because I wasn't at the proper angle.

I think it's wonderful that this game is such a hit and I have no argument with the people that love it and think it's beautiful, but personally, I fall more into the camp of "Let's watch someone play" rather than doing it myself.
Rape you...
Jan 15th, 2008, 06:46 AM
I loved this game, but it isn't "the best game ever" for me. I hated the end boss, not because he/she was too hard or anything, but because you have this fucking tower just standing still, throwing beams at you. (Thank god that fucking horse died before the battle...)
Anyway, i liked ICO better...
Top 5 games:
#1: We love Katamari damacy
#2: Dragon Quest 8
#3: System Shock 2
#4: Tomb Raider's
#5: Horror games (Silent Hill, Fatal Frame etc...)
Can't even THINK straight
Jan 15th, 2008, 12:34 PM
This is one of those memorable games indeedy.
Funky Dynamite
Jan 15th, 2008, 02:21 PM
I thought it was a great game, and I never had any problems with the controls.

However, I will say that some of the battles were artificially long, like the catfish one, but the worst for me was the one where you fight the giant turtle-like colossus in the barren geyser field. You had to get that bastard to stand a certain way over a geyser right as it's erupting, and meanwhile, he's blasting the shit out of you with his mouth laser.
Ants Who Ruin Your Dinner
Jan 15th, 2008, 02:50 PM
I was going to mention that one because it pissed the holy fuck out of me the first time and is the exact moment I started hating this game, but in the replay, I beat it in ten minutes including the time it took to get there. Maybe it would have been less infuriating the first time had I remembered the horse which actually CAN outrun the shots, but there's still the catfish, the salamander, the kappa, the dragon, both lions ESPECIALLY the second, and the man.

And hell, it probably takes five minutes to stab the swordsman to death because you have to climb up the back of his head, down his forehead, press whatever button is Attack I don't remember, wait a second, stab, wait for him to stop bucking, notice your grip meter's low, climb back up his forehead and down back onto his shoulders, let go, let the grip meter recharge, grab him when he moves funny to signal the start of his shaking, and repeat about six times.
Resident Lurker
Jan 15th, 2008, 03:02 PM
I love games like this and Portal: games that are fairly short but challenging without being insanely difficult. Both games had an excellent sense of mood, as well.
I hate this hacker crap!
Jan 15th, 2008, 03:55 PM
I just remember not having much difficulty with this one, and that's where it lose some points for me.
Jan 15th, 2008, 05:24 PM
All the riding back and forth from the temple to the colossi was to much for me. To boring and repetitive. This isn't a game for people that can't stand doing things over and over again. But it definitely had a good concept. And the visuals were fantastic.
Suicidal Chipmunk
Jan 15th, 2008, 06:01 PM
I never played this game, i played a demo one time, but it didn't seem like the kind of game i'd be into.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 15th, 2008, 06:21 PM
I'm surprised to hear so many people had a problem with the controls. Yeah, the camera sometimes did stupid things (but what game with a moving camera doesn't have that problem?), but after the first hour or so of playing I had the controls mastered.
Freelance Product Tester
Jan 27th, 2008, 03:47 PM
I've never played it, and I don't think I will. The "Obvious Weak Point" part of it seems stupid.
Emu Emu is offline
Level 29 ♂
Jan 28th, 2008, 12:13 AM
Spending hours hunting for the weak point would be gay, and it's not like you can just leap straight up to it and shove your sword in. It moves around on some of the bosses after you damage them to a certain extent, and the goal of the game is even getting there in the first place.
Your Illegitimate Child
Jan 30th, 2008, 03:37 AM
The final colossus is epic. I sure hope none of you dimwits consider that "spoilage", because well, we could all see it coming: epic.
Crazy Russian
Feb 19th, 2008, 03:25 PM
I liked this game... For an hour or so. It's just too repetitive and bland for my taste... Yeah, yeah, visuals are pretty, but, well... Grey. Really-really grey. The sort of grey you see in black and white movies. Really... Ico kicked this game's ass.
frappez le cochon rouge
Feb 19th, 2008, 10:52 PM
By the way, that one horse colossus screwed me over and over and over.
Ants Who Ruin Your Dinner
Feb 20th, 2008, 05:49 PM
The final colossus is like that episode of Doug where he goes to see a monster movie, hides just before the monster is unveiled twice, then the third time he sees the monster and breaks out laughing because you can see the zipper in the back of the costume.
Emu Emu is offline
Level 29 ♂
Feb 20th, 2008, 06:58 PM
Except this monster is a thousand feet tall and hurling fireballs at you.
Ants Who Ruin Your Dinner
Feb 20th, 2008, 08:05 PM
It's a 200 foot tall shrieking man in a dress and its fireballs are stopped by thin walls and it's not even throwing them for half the fight.