Shadow of the Colossus Review

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Posted by Icemael (6317 posts) -

☆☆  (out of five) 
 
Shadow of the Colossus is, essentially, one long action-adventure boss rush. The only enemies in the game are sixteen gargantuan colossi the main character has to kill in order to resurrect a dead princess, and the only times at which you aren't fighting one of them of is when you're riding to the next. It's a great concept. A particularly well-designed boss fight is often the highlight of an action title, and an entire game with nothing but bosses should in theory be an amazingly challenging, incredibly intense non-stop adrenaline rush -- the kind of experience video game enthusiasts dream of.

Shadow of the Colossus is not that. Each boss battle has some sort of trick to it. A puzzle, if you will. Solve that puzzle, and you get an opportunity to mount the boss. From there all you have to do is climb the creature's furry parts until you get to a shiny part, which you then need to stab a couple of times. After a couple of stabs the boss' life bar will be depleted, and he will fall to the ground. That's it. That's every boss in the game.

"But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely these puzzles are complex affairs that require a great deal of creative thinking?" Nope. They're all incredibly simple, and solving them is as easy as finding a single standout feature in the environment or on the colossus and exploiting it. "But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely the furry parts you need to climb offer amazing platforming challenges?" Nope. All you do is hold down the R1 button to stick to the fur, move with the analogue stick and jump with the triangle button if necessary (in most battles, it's not, and when it is it requires no skill of any kind). "But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely the stabbing of the shiny parts requires immaculate timing?" Nope. The colossi will occasionally try to shake you off, but all you need to do is keep holding the R1 button until they stop -- which they usually do long enough that you can wait a couple of seconds and still have time to attack -- and then start stabbing. Should you happen to fall off, you can just climb up again right away to try once more.

The only thing that saves this game from being a complete failure is the presentation. The orchestral soundtrack is powerful (though the way it fades in and out as your distance to a colossus changes can, at times, be jarring), the vast, empty landscapes are quite beautiful, and the colossi are some of the most imposing enemies ever seen in a video game. Some clump around on two legs carrying enormous weapons, some walk on four as wild beasts, some swim in the depths of dark lakes and some soar through the skies, but they all have one thing in common: they are, as their names suggest, absolutely colossal monstrosities of fur and ancient stone. The ground trembles with their every step, and approaching them -- not to speak of climbing them -- is quite the audio-visual experience.

Unfortunately, even the aesthetic side of the game isn't without its issues. The game runs very poorly, and it's rare to see anything resembling thirty frames per second. It never ventures into the realm of the unplayable, but the poor frame rate can when it's at its worst be fairly distracting and take away from the experience quite a bit. Also, the use of bloom and blur (presumably to conceal the primitive environmental textures) is excessive, and hurts the presentation more than it helps it.

Hopefully, one day other, better developers will try their hands at making boss-only games. Hopefully, those games will be amazing. Sadly, all we have for the time being (that I know of, at least) is Shadow of the Colossus: a failure in many ways, and a success only in one.

#1 Posted by Icemael (6317 posts) -

☆☆  (out of five) 
 
Shadow of the Colossus is, essentially, one long action-adventure boss rush. The only enemies in the game are sixteen gargantuan colossi the main character has to kill in order to resurrect a dead princess, and the only times at which you aren't fighting one of them of is when you're riding to the next. It's a great concept. A particularly well-designed boss fight is often the highlight of an action title, and an entire game with nothing but bosses should in theory be an amazingly challenging, incredibly intense non-stop adrenaline rush -- the kind of experience video game enthusiasts dream of.

Shadow of the Colossus is not that. Each boss battle has some sort of trick to it. A puzzle, if you will. Solve that puzzle, and you get an opportunity to mount the boss. From there all you have to do is climb the creature's furry parts until you get to a shiny part, which you then need to stab a couple of times. After a couple of stabs the boss' life bar will be depleted, and he will fall to the ground. That's it. That's every boss in the game.

"But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely these puzzles are complex affairs that require a great deal of creative thinking?" Nope. They're all incredibly simple, and solving them is as easy as finding a single standout feature in the environment or on the colossus and exploiting it. "But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely the furry parts you need to climb offer amazing platforming challenges?" Nope. All you do is hold down the R1 button to stick to the fur, move with the analogue stick and jump with the triangle button if necessary (in most battles, it's not, and when it is it requires no skill of any kind). "But Mr. Reviewer," you say. "Surely the stabbing of the shiny parts requires immaculate timing?" Nope. The colossi will occasionally try to shake you off, but all you need to do is keep holding the R1 button until they stop -- which they usually do long enough that you can wait a couple of seconds and still have time to attack -- and then start stabbing. Should you happen to fall off, you can just climb up again right away to try once more.

The only thing that saves this game from being a complete failure is the presentation. The orchestral soundtrack is powerful (though the way it fades in and out as your distance to a colossus changes can, at times, be jarring), the vast, empty landscapes are quite beautiful, and the colossi are some of the most imposing enemies ever seen in a video game. Some clump around on two legs carrying enormous weapons, some walk on four as wild beasts, some swim in the depths of dark lakes and some soar through the skies, but they all have one thing in common: they are, as their names suggest, absolutely colossal monstrosities of fur and ancient stone. The ground trembles with their every step, and approaching them -- not to speak of climbing them -- is quite the audio-visual experience.

Unfortunately, even the aesthetic side of the game isn't without its issues. The game runs very poorly, and it's rare to see anything resembling thirty frames per second. It never ventures into the realm of the unplayable, but the poor frame rate can when it's at its worst be fairly distracting and take away from the experience quite a bit. Also, the use of bloom and blur (presumably to conceal the primitive environmental textures) is excessive, and hurts the presentation more than it helps it.

Hopefully, one day other, better developers will try their hands at making boss-only games. Hopefully, those games will be amazing. Sadly, all we have for the time being (that I know of, at least) is Shadow of the Colossus: a failure in many ways, and a success only in one.

#2 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#3 Posted by Beforet (2920 posts) -

And let the show begin.

#4 Posted by eroticfishcake (7783 posts) -

Time has not been particularly kind to that game 'cause damn that framerate was always awful. But yeah I can see where you're coming from. Although I did like SoTC I just didn't really find it very enjoyable as everyone seemed to say it was and mind you I got the game a bit later then most people. I love the concept but yeah, it could've been a bit more...graceful so to speak. Them two flying colossi were pretty damn awesome at the time though, still are.

#5 Posted by Abram03 (36 posts) -

Huh.  I still love it for some reason.  And I played it several years after it came out. 

#6 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

It just seems like you didn't like it because it wasn't particularly challenging, I mean the same thing applies to every Zelda game ever made except there are dungeons in between with a few more puzzles. It didn't find Portal 2's single player particularly challenging at all, but it was still fun because I just enjoyed existing in that world and seeing what it had to offer. I don't think a game needs challenging gameplay to be great.
 
It reads like you went in with a certain expectation that wasn't fulfilled rather than really being upset with what the game had to offer, except for the shitty frame rate but hey that's what HD collections are for right.

#7 Edited by RagingLion (1365 posts) -

:)  I understand your reasoning.  I don't think you're being completely unfair but I have to say that for me SotC might be the best game I've ever played.  I think the nub of having such different end conclusions is whether the underlying mechanics stuck out over the 'experience' or not.  Most of the time I was thinking I'm fighting these giant creatures (the 'experience') which was awesome and awe-inspiring, but if you get to the point where you're thinking "I'm just being made to perform these mechanics in sequence" then it loses it's power and the degree of emotional resonance.  The tone derived from traveling about the countryside to the colossi and the actual fact that I was killing these creatures also got to me.   Edit:  I will disagree with you on one point: "better developers" - I am so glad Team Ico exist and I think they are superb at what they do.
 
Quick plug in case you're interested, which also explains a bit more why I love this game:  my list of my 9 favourite colossi.

#8 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5232 posts) -

This came out of no where.

#9 Posted by phish09 (1109 posts) -

Pretty current review.  What's up next?  Pong?

#10 Posted by zombie2011 (4972 posts) -

I thought the game went downhill quickly, the first few colossi were amazing but none of the other colossi were as good as the first 3.

#11 Posted by Mystyr_E (1190 posts) -
@zombie2011: #13 will disagree with you 
 
and I disagree but hey, different strokes and all that  
#12 Posted by Monte (229 posts) -

I lol'ed

#13 Posted by Marz (5649 posts) -

I would agree the framerate was fairly bad at times.  But that game threw some of the biggest bosses ever seen in a video game at you and it was jaw dropping just to think you were actually fighting an enemy on that scale in real time.  But yeah that was in 2005, i personally wouldn't review old games myself because gaming has come further along and the technical achievements of that game aren't so unique nowadays so the gameplay just seems average if you want to dissect it for what it is in the present.

#14 Posted by zombie2011 (4972 posts) -
@Mystyr_E said:
@zombie2011: #13 will disagree with you  and I disagree but hey, different strokes and all that  
That was the worst one, i almost stopped playing the game at that point. Jumping on the wings of that thing was so fucking lame. 
 
The 3rd one is the best, and nothing comes close to it. 
#15 Posted by Beforet (2920 posts) -

@SethPhotopoulos said:

This came out of no where.

I wouldn't say that; a rerelease is just around the corner. Wouldn't be surprised to see people taking a look at the original to see how it holds up.

#16 Posted by Icemael (6317 posts) -
@LordXavierBritish: After playing Ico, I certainly didn't expect this to be the "ideal" boss rush game I described. In fact, my expectations were pretty much spot-on.

@SethPhotopoulos@phish09: Why does a review have to be "current"? Most of the reviews I read are for older games. New games I have any interest in, I've usually followed closely enough that I don't really need reviews to decide whether or not I should give them a shot.

Also, the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD collection is coming out soon.
#17 Posted by Zero_ (1973 posts) -

I'm probably in the minority, but I enjoyed the slow downs in the game - added this cool unintentional slow-mo effect to a lot of cool scenes.

#18 Posted by iam3green (14390 posts) -

i enjoyed the game when i got it. if i remember correctly, the frames were bad. the bosses were different. it felt like you were climbing something big, which they meant to do. it was one amazing part of the game. the music sounded great. i thought they could use more music in it at times. 
 
i have to say that i can't wait when the remake is coming out.

#19 Posted by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

I liked the game, haven't finished it though mainly due to the framerate issues which seem to be solved with the HD editions that are coming out soon.

#20 Posted by FourWude (2261 posts) -

5/5 for SoTC.

My review says fuck you.

#21 Posted by NTM (7344 posts) -

The game was awesome on PS2, and will be better in the upcoming collection. It's already gone down in the history book as awesome, awesome awesome.

#22 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

Oh, you poor lost soul. Being unable to appreciate one of the greatest games of all time just makes me feel sorry for you.

#23 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

My review of your attempt at trolling.

 
☆☆  (out of five)
#24 Posted by Landon (4139 posts) -

  

#25 Posted by LiquidSwords (2738 posts) -

@Icemael:

YOU ARE A GINORMOUS HOMO!

#26 Posted by jlev880 (204 posts) -

This is strange, I was playing this game 10 minutes ago.

#27 Posted by TheCableKid (206 posts) -

@FourWude said:

5/5 for SoTC.

My review says fuck you.

Agreed

#28 Posted by RE_Player1 (7558 posts) -

I think you're wrong. Also why make this a blog post and not an actual user review? That is all.

#29 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7079 posts) -

@FourWude said:

5/5 for SoTC.

My review says fuck you.

This. I fucking loved the hell out of this game.

#30 Posted by Bones8677 (3232 posts) -

You hated Limbo, Flower, and now Shadow of the Colossus. I'm sensing a pattern here...

#31 Posted by Vonocourt (2127 posts) -

@FourWude said:

5/5 for SoTC.

My review says fuck you.

Sometimes your Matt Berry avatar can go against the content of the post...not this time.

#32 Posted by Bubbly (253 posts) -

OP made good points. I played the game almost a year after it came out and it just never grabbed me. It was weird as I am someone who immensely enjoys a good single player game (love L.A. Noire, point and click adventure games, etc.) and the game just never had the emotional resonance with me like it did for others. I remember just being really bored playing it. There were times when I would be trying to take down a colossus and get really excited and start having fun, but those moments were few and far between. And the framerate definitely removed some of its immersiveness when it was at its worst. I'll give the HD collection a shot, but I don't know if I'll turn around on it.

#33 Posted by neozeke (378 posts) -

This post reminded me to play my copy of Shadow Of Colossus again. Man, that game is pretty good. 

#34 Posted by Claude (16255 posts) -

I didn't enjoy it. I tried to finish it a few times but got frustrated and finally quit. Shadow of the Colossus was a disappointment after loving ICO.

#35 Posted by Slaker117 (4838 posts) -
@RE_Player92: No, what happened to you Christmas theme! You had it for so long, why change it now?
#36 Posted by Red (5995 posts) -

Your main way of criticizing the game is by simply describing it vaguely. If you boil every game down to its exact parts, it just sounds stupid. 
Halo: You go around and shoot people. Sometimes you get on vehicles and shoot people. That's it. That's the entire game. 
Mario: You jump on stuff. I mean, really nintendo, a game where you jump on stuff? That's it? 
Guitar Hero: So you pretend you're playing a song on a guitar. Every single song plays EXACTLY the same. 
 
I'm fine with you disliking a game I love, but not in such a poorly thought-out way.  
And honestly, when you're dealing with a game you know is so beloved by people, you could act like less of a tool. As I always say, phrasing your opinion as if it is fact just makes people wanna punch you in the face. But then again, I'm pretty sure you knew that. 
 
 
Oh SoTC. How I love you.

#37 Posted by Bones8677 (3232 posts) -

My Rebuttal, good sir. 

Shadow of the Colossus (4.5 out of 5)

A True Video Game Epic

Shadow of the Colossus is a game by Team Ico who previously created the titular Ico game. SotC has a rather unique experience with puzzle solving and action, tied together by one of the most breathtaking presentations ever in the medium. The world of SotC is minimal in its design and yet is perhaps one of the most well realized.

 It's moments like this that sends chills down the spine.

There are no other people, no buildings except for the occasional ruin, and few animals. And yet despite this it feels as if it’s a place that could almost exist, as if it’s a small part in a larger world that has long forgotten about it.

 You play as a young man who has taken his loved one to a temple in hopes of bringing her back to life. The guardians of this temple agree IF you honor one simple offer. Destroy the 16 Colossi that wander the land and your loved one will be revived. So it’s up to you and your horse and it’s off to kill something for which you have little understanding of.

 As was said, SotC gameplay is really nothing more than a collection of boss encounters. There’s no trash between them, just you and the hulks of nature. Each Colossus presents a challenge in which you must discover and exploit so that you may climb upon them to deliver the finishing blow. Sure there’s nothing really more complicated than that, but the experience of battling and slaying these beasts is so remarkable and exciting that you’ll be cheering every time you take one down.

 The battles can be truly awe-inspiring.

SotC is not without its flaws. When action builds there is a common tendency of frame rate drops. These drops make the puzzle solving difficult and therefore make the battles more difficult as well. Some battles are rather unforgiving, as some will not give you a second chance if you screw up. And finally the save stations tend to be located far away from where the nearest colossus is. Constantly having to restart a battle from these points, gets old very fast.

Despite these problems, Shadow of the Colossus is truly a spectacle, a perfect mesh of story and gameplay. It does so much with so little that it often rivals what bigger Triple-A titles do with their resources. It’s a simple story about love and loss, but manages to become in epic is size and scope. SotC is a relatively old game, but it still resonates within gamers’ minds as a game that took so many risks and manages to land them. It’s a must play for anyone who wants something different from the medium. The fact that so many people use this single game as proof that video games can be legitimate art forms is a testament to how important and special it is.
#38 Posted by Eric_Buck (1289 posts) -

Cool. Do Pacman next!

#39 Posted by SSully (4169 posts) -

Yeah Half life 2 was pretty shitty too. Oh and A Link to the Past? Fuck that game, I mean 2D??? Who the hell are they trying to kid?

#40 Posted by EVO (3896 posts) -

Do you even like video games? You always seem to be hating on them. Playstation games in particular.

#41 Posted by RE_Player1 (7558 posts) -
@Slaker117 Wow someone noticed :p I dunno I've gotten so many pm's asking me for months why I have a Christmas theme avatar so I finally decided to take 5 seconds out of my life and change it.
#42 Posted by Icemael (6317 posts) -
@SeriouslyNow said:

My review of your attempt at trolling.

 ☆☆  (out of five)
I give this post four stars out of five on the SeriouslyNow Shitty Posting Scale. Not your shittiest post, but it's up there.

@Bones8677 said:
You hated Limbo, Flower, and now Shadow of the Colossus. I'm sensing a pattern here...
The pattern being that I generally don't like artsy games. But hey, it's always easier to yell "troll" than to use your brain.

@Red said:
Your main way of criticizing the game is by simply describing it vaguely. If you boil every game down to its exact parts, it just sounds stupid.
My main way of criticizing the game is breaking it down and explaining why the parts are poor. That's every negative video game review ever, if you haven't noticed. Go read some and you'll see.

@Red said:
And honestly, when you're dealing with a game you know is so beloved by people, you could act like less of a tool. As I always say, phrasing your opinion as if it is fact just makes people wanna punch you in the face.
Writing "in my opinion", "in my honest opinion" or "in my honest opinion, no kidding, this is just my opinion and I want you to know that" is a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. If someone doesn't understand that all reviews are fucking opinions, he shouldn't be reading reviews in the first place. And I'm not going to mince words just because a game is popular.

@EVO said:
Do you even like video games? You always seem to be hating on them. Playstation games in particular.
Would I post regularly on a video game forum if I did not love video games?
#43 Posted by SeriouslyNow (8534 posts) -

@Icemael: If you don't like artsy games why review them at all? People who do something voluntarily that they don't like and then complain about it are just vying for attention. Your review is an attention seeking troll. You are an attention seeking troll. Your avatar is an attention seeking...oh wait. Your avatar is serious isn't it?

#44 Edited by Icemael (6317 posts) -
@SeriouslyNow: I review them because I enjoy writing reviews. And I play them because I think "maybe this one will actually be as good as people say". I never, ever buy a game I think there's no chance I'll enjoy.

@SeriouslyNow said:

Your review is an attention seeking troll. You are an attention seeking troll.

As I said, it's easier to yell "troll" than to use your brain. Not that you're capable of using it, judging by your posts in this thread and others.
#45 Posted by mylifeforAiur (3483 posts) -

I don't think I disliked the game as much as you, but I'm certainly willing to admit that it has a considerable amount of caveats.

#46 Posted by Red (5995 posts) -
@Icemael: Except you didn't explain why the parts are poor. You explained why they are easy and boring by over simplifying and generalizing. While, yes, the core mechanics and goal of every boss battle is the same, that is true for pretty much every other game in existence. In SoTC, you find some way to mount the colossus and then try and stab it somewhere. In Metal Gear Solid, you shoot the boss until it dies. In Mario, you jump around dodging attacks until you can somehow hurt the boss. In world of warcraft you use spells and attacks to bring a boss's health down. The difficulty in SotC (or pretty much every game) does not come from the complexity of its mechanics, but in the ways you must adapt your knowledge of those mechanics. In SotC's case, you must find the weakness of a boss while avoiding its attacks, then, while mounting it manage the grip meter and the platforming to get to its weak point. But, whatever, you find it easy, or simple. That's still nowhere near a good enough reason to dislike the game as much as you do. This review just honestly seems like you decided you wanted to write a negative review about SoTC, decided a score and then tried to lazily fill it up with things that sound negative. All without playing it. 
 
In other words: trolllllll
#47 Posted by project343 (2818 posts) -

If this is trolling, you've got me. I'm livid. This is one of my favourite games of all time after picking it up in a bargain bin a few years ago. Will never forget that experience.

#48 Posted by Herocide (440 posts) -

God forbid someone should have an opinion without being labelled a troll. 
 
I enjoyed what I played of Shadow of the Colossus, albeit I was late to the party and found the frame rate to be pretty jarring. I'd give it a 7/10.

#49 Edited by Icemael (6317 posts) -
@Red said:

@Icemael: Except you didn't explain why the parts are poor. You explained why they are easy and boring by over simplifying and generalizing.

They're poor because they're easy and boring, for crying out loud. And simplification and generalization are cornerstones of criticism. But feel free to explain how I'm "oversimplifying". Had I talked about the riding and described each individual boss puzzle, my review would practically have been a walkthrough, so I really don't know what supposedly important part it is I'm supposedly excluding.

@Red said:

But, whatever, you find it easy, or simple. That's still nowhere near a good enough reason to dislike the game as much as you do.

It's boring and it runs poorly. That's a two-star game at most as far as I'm concerned.

@Red said:

This review just honestly seems like you decided you wanted to write a negative review about SoTC, decided a score and then tried to lazily fill it up with things that sound negative. All without playing it. In other words: trolllllll

Whatever helps you sleep at night.
#50 Posted by TheLeamenator (146 posts) -
@FourWude: Mine as well.

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