Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Shadow Of The Colossus

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Electronic Theatre Image            Many games spawned from heritage such Shadow Of The Colossus breed unrivalled market success. Final Fantasy VII saw the series scale to new heights with the Japanese public demanding more than three separate releases, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time remains considered one of the best videogames ever made and Dragon Quest: The Journey Of The Cursed King is finally making its way to Europe – the first in the series to do so. However, unlike these major franchises, Shadow Of The Colossus is riding on the past success of but one title: a title that received little commercial success at release, but since has become the backbone of any PlayStation2 collector’s assembly: ICO.

            Four years after the title’s bloodline predecessor, Shadow Of The Colossus bears noElectronic Theatre Image memory of ICO. The title acts as an individual in its own right, refusing to be balanced with ICO; instead reaching its own dizzying heights. Shadow Of The Colossus is an Adventure title with a stark contrast to the traditions of the genre, that, and the apparently shared world, are where ICO and Shadow Of The Colossus draw the line, and go their separate ways.

Shadow Of The Colossus draws on the player’s emotive response to the on-screen action. The Colossi, striking and magnificently beautiful, are astonishingly detailed and stunningly individual. It’s with this beauty that striking that final, slow-motion blow creates a sense of impending guilt. The Colossi shriek with every wound as putrid life flows forth, and their final, graceful departure is one of the most memorable moments in gaming history; all sixteen times.

The title is founded in that rarest of videogame traditions – art. Films, music and literature have their place, and videogames need to carve a niche. The likes of the NintendoDS’s Electroplankton and the GameCube’s Resident Evil 4 help to acknowledge the suggestion, but do little to alert the mainstream audience to their artistic value. Shadow of The Colossus takes the monumental path of putting its flourishing beauty in the face of the player, before continuing to unravel its gameplay mechanisms. The adventure sees our protagonist Electronic Theatre Imageon a mission to defeat sixteen Colossi – the huge beasts towering across the landscape – in order to please some of the most seemingly untrustworthy Gods and resurrect his dead girlfriend. With a sweeping landscape claiming one of the largest play-fields ever in a videogame, finding several of the Colossi may prove a challenge in it’s self. However, the real puzzle is not only how to mount each Colossi, but how to defeat them also. Each Colossi has a number of weak points, marked by a glowing symbol, each must be located, and attacked in-turn. Ascending the Colossi sees you clambering through their fur and armour whilst constantly monitoring your Grip Meter; whereas all the while the Colossi staggers, flies, swims or gallops about. Defeating the Colossi remains the same throughout – find the weak point, attack, find the next weak point, repeat – but it’s through this repetition that the game excels; each has a sense of dignity to it’s construction, and each a sense of gratification for discovering it’s beauty. With even the slightest of play, it quickly becomes apparent that the hunt, the epic race for what our protagonist sees as vengeance, is actually the most dormant of exercises in Shadow Of The Colossus; Aggro – our hero’s mighty steed – is no Epona, and never should he try to be. A sideline, a nothing more – epic in scale, but far from grand in it’s own revelation and paling in comparison to the felling of the beasts – the exploration is little more than breathing space.

While creating such an epic and broad landscape with such astonishing attention to detail is all well to marvel, the barren-of-life nature of the globe marks the world Shadow Of The Colossus is confined to as a glory for technical development, but an utter conundrum as to exactly why it was necessary. GUN was recently panned by critics for featuring a landscape far from densely populated, and yet Shadow Of The Colossus has Electronic Theatre Imagereceived much acclaim for counter-balancing the suggestion: GUN’s landscape was fruitful, Shadow Of The Colossus’ sterile.

The control system unfortunately refuses to reflect the foundation of the title, with over-complicated jumping and climbing procedures and poor Analogue Calibration, resulting in both the protagonist and his trusty steed appearing as cumbersome at the best of times. Often, in the heat of battle, this disability is overcome by your own adrenaline, but far too often it makes reaching the Colossi a more belittling task than travelling between islands in The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

            The graphical splendour of the title is undoubtedly astonishing; with its epic landscape and fantastic draw distance uncompromised, and some exceptional Loading Times that would challenge both the GameCube and Xbox. However, the PlayStation2’s weaker performance quickly rears its ugly head as occasional – but substantial – problems occur with lighting, object distance and even texture mapping up to ten feet in front of your avatar. The Colossi however, are nothing short of magnificent. The frankly ridiculous attention to detail and sheer scale of each is commendable – but the beauty of the animation goes far deeper, as each hulking monstrosity reveals its own life-force: each remains an individual in every aspect.

            The title’s Soundtrack has not been left to the MIDI designers either. Sweeping orchestral movements come into play as you approach each Colossi, followed by thundering, foreboding harmonies as you mount the beasts. Each time flesh is pierced, the puncture echoes in your ears as the innocent giants howl in pain.

            Shadow Of The Colossus is a technical marvel – there’s no doubt about it. Critics have commented that Shadow Of The Colossus appears as a shallow construct; simulating only sixteen Boss Fights. However, it’s comments such as these that play a contrastElectronic Theatre Image to the beauty in Shadow Of The Colossus, as it’s clearly not a title for everyone. The staggering beauty and challenge involved in felling each of the beasts acts as a Level in the a-typical videogame formula but, for all its misguided annotations, Shadow Of The Colossus proves that there’s little wrong with the traditions of the industry; it’s in their presentation in which we can create art. Electronic Theatre Image  









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