Shadow of the Colossus

By: Fs_Metal
Game title: Shadow of the Colossus
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: Playstation 2
ESRB Rating: Teen
Developer: Sony
Release date: October 18, 2005
Overall rating: 9.5

Every once in a great while, the gaming world is treated to something truly special. It receives a game that is very unique and extremely well executed. Such games usually shine radiantly among the stockpiles of sequels and ripoffs. One such masterpiece is Shadow of the Colossus, an extravagant and elaborate action adventure game that hit shelves in 2005 for the Playstation 2. As the title suggests, everything about Shadow of the Colossus is massive, but what is it about this game that makes it something truly special? Read on to find out.

Gameplay - 10

Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most fun games I have ever played. Basically, it's like this. There is a massive world to explore (which you do on your trusty stead Argo). Within the world are 16 colossi that you have to track down and sleigh. Lucky for you, you have a sword that, when held up in good light, emits rays of light that, when converged to a point, show you the direction you need to head in to get to the next colossus. You are not merely left in the dark when it comes to finding them.

Once you find the creature, the first thing you are likely to do is say something to the effect of "oh my God." Then you have to figure out how to defeat him. This is where the sword comes in handy again. You can aim the rays of light at the colossus to figure out it's weak spot. The first thin you have to figure out is how to get onto the creature, so that you can climb him and stab it's weak spots, marked with a sigil, with your sword. This is the most fun part of the game. Figuring out how to get onto each colossus and how to climb them is a bit like a puzzle, and it is alot of fun to do. DO NOT USE A WALKTHROUGH! It will ruin this experience, and trust me. This is something you really want to experience Now, the sword is not your only weapon. You also have a bow and arrow that you will use on many of the colossi, whether it is just to get their attention or to attack certain spots so you can attempt to climb them. The bow will come in handy at some point in the game. You will be glad that you have it. You can also do various other things with the bow, like shooting the white lizards and the fruits in the trees, which increase your health and your grip gauge. Hunting these down can be a pain because the world is so big, but it can also be a joy if you love exploration (and I do). Either way, if you see one of these two in your travels, be sure to stop and get them with your bow and arrow. They are a great help.

There are no enemies to fight in between bosses. There are just the 16 bosses and you. The world is vast and very empty, which helps to emphasize the feeling of loneliness that lies over the forbidden land. IT also serves another purpose. It ensures that nothing detracts from the core gameplay of the 16 best boss fights ever to grace any console. It might sound boring to have a world with only 16 creatures to fight inhabiting it, but it is nothing of the sort. The game is an experience to behold, and an extremely fun one at that.

Graphics - 9.5/10

One glance at Shadow of the Colossus, it's designs on the creatures and it's massive world will draw anyone to the conclusion that the game was a labor of love for it's developement staff. While it may not be the most technically proficient game in the world, the art style for it is stunningly beautiful. It is true that this game has alot of jaggies, but the draw distance on this game is absolutely amazing. It rivals that of Grand Theft Auto. You can see for miles in this game. This makes it fun to climb up to high points in the land and look out over just to see how much of the world you can see. The best thing about the graphics of Shadow of the Colossus is it's art style. This game really emphasizes it's strong, sad emotions through it's coloring. Don't expect bright colors here. Expect a drab in color, but beautiful none the less, world. That is exactly what you will get. Shadow of the Colossus uses an original art style for it's world and it's creatures. I have never seen anything like it, and it is incredibly beautiful. Even the screenshots are amazing to look at. It goes without saying that this is one of the most beautiful games on the Playstation 2, and, in this case, graphics really do enhance the experience because the art is so wonderful.

There is one other graphical hitch, though, and it is major. The game has serious framerate issues when there is alot going on. It can really stutter and stall at times. That's the sole reason the graphics don't get a 10. The framerate is solid for most of the game, but it really slows down sometimes, usually during the boss fights. IT does to show just how much this game pushes the PS2 though. It is absolutely beautiful, aside from this. The art alone is worth atleast watching someone else play.

Sound - 10/10

The sound in Shadow of the Colossus could not be any better. First off, the music is some of the best that I have ever heard in anything, really. It is absolutely fantastic, and it stands up with the best of the best, such as Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy. It really is that good. SOTC has a collection of 42 symphonic songs in it's soundtrack, and each one is excellent. The colossi themes are epic, and the melodic stuff really helps to drive your emotions. It is incredibly powerful and very moving IT is, essentailly on the same level as some of the best movie soundtracks out there, such as the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Lord of the Rings. Honestly, it is that good. Speaking of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the game does kind of take a que from that. Alot of it is very quiet with no music. Infact, whenever you are out in the land riding out to meet the next colossus, the only sounds are the horse galloping, whatever sounds Wander might be making and the sounds of nature, such as rushing water. It works very well in emphasizing the feeling of being alone that blankets the entire land. It all sounds excellent, from the voice acting in a made up language, to the swinging of the sword, to the sound of Argo galloping across the lands mighty plains. The sound in this game is absolutely top notch, much like virtually everything else about it.

Story - 9.5

Shadow of the Colossus starts off with a long scene of Wander riding on his horse with a girl wrapped in a blanket on the back of it. She is dead, and he is riding for the forbidden land with a unique sword in hope of seeking out the aid of a deity named Dormin so that it might bring her back to life. That is it's special power. He rides across a massive bridge to enter the forbidden land and into the Shrine of Worship, where Dormin says that it will do this deed provided that Wander kill 16 colossi that inhabit the land. It also says that there will be consequences for his actions, but Wander throws all doubt to the size and says he will do it.

This is the basic set up for the game, and, throughout the vast majority of the game, there is nothing more to the story than you riding out and defeating each colossus. Why, then? Why would the story get a very high score of a 9.5? Well, that would be because of the ending sequence. After all 16 go down, you are treated to a truly spectacular 20 minute ending sequence that will either confuse you or amaze you. It adds ALOT to the story, and it is all fantastic to watch it unfold. I won't spoil anything for you, but I assure you that if you think you know how this game will end, you are way off the mark. The end is a huge surprise and is a welcome edition to an absolutely wonderful game. It, alone, makes the story to this game excellent, and you are going to love it when you see it. I assure you of that.

Replay value - 9.5/10

Let me put it this way, I have beaten this game twice, and it has lost none of it's spark. It would be easy to play through this game multiple times because it is so much fun, and that is not counting all the stuff you can do in the world, or the stuff you unlock once you beat it. About that,m after finishing the game, you unlock both time trial mode and hard mode. To do the time trials, you have to stand in front of the collapsed idol of the colossus and pray. You are then taken to do the fight all over again with a time limit for you to attempt to beat. Hard mode should be pretty self explanatory. Ontop of this, there is a secret garden you can try to reach, extra weapons you can obtain, as well as white lizards and fruits to hunt down. There is more than enough to do in this game to keep it spinning in your PS2 for a long time.

Final thoughts -

Shadow of the Colossus is a unique blend of action gaming and adventure. It also feels like a bit of a puzzle game at time when trying to figure out how to climb onto each colossus. The game is breathtakingly beautiful to look at, and the soundtrack manages to match it in beauty, which is quite an accomplishment. The ending sequence is more than worth the wait, as it is fantastic, and the game is so much fun that you are likely to want to play it more than once. All in all, Shadow of the Colossus is the complete package and is an absolute masterpiece that deserves a spot in every gamers library of games.

Gameplay - 10/10
A beautiful world to explore and the 16 best boss fights in any video game ever, even rivaling Metal Gear Solid

Graphics - 9.5/10
Jaggies and frame rate issues aside, this game is a sight to behold. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and utilizes a beautiful and very unique art style

Sound - 10/10
One of the greatest soundtracks of all time. It is every bit as beautiful as the graphics are

Story - 9.5/10
Throughout the vast majority of the game, the story is straightforward, but the 20+ minute ending sequence is more than worth it. Stick around for an extra scene after the credits

Replay Value - 9.5/10
It's so much fun that you will want to play through it again. There are several unlockables to play after you beat the game as well