Game: "Shadow of the Colossus"
System: PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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