Shadow of the Colossus

November 30, 2006

[i][b]”Some mountains are scaled. Others are slain.”[/b][/i]

And you’ll be slaying quite a few mountains here in 16 boss-style fights. That’s what makes [i]Shadow of the Colossus[/i] so unique.

Canon-wise, [i]SotC[/i] is a prequel to the events of [i]Ico[/i], another interesting platform game released four years prior to the release of [i]SotC[/i]. The nameless hero in the story has stolen a special sword and brought his dead wife/girlfriend/lover/unrequited object of affection (the game isn’t really clear on their relationship) Mono to a forbidden temple in a desperate attempt to revive her. The ancient god of the temple is all too happy to do the task, but the hero must first destroy all 16 idols in the temple to prove his worth.

Well, if it was that easy, we would have a rather short, boring game. The only way to destroy the idols is to kill the colossi that wander the island. When a colossus is dead, its corresponding idol will be destroyed.

So that’s your task for the next 15 hours: The god gives you a hint about your next colossus. You use your sword to catch the sunlight and pinpoint its location. Then you somehow kill the monster.

Visually, the game is as gorgeous as its predecessor. The landscape ranges from deserts to lush forests, and all is beautifully rendered without the designs repeating or becoming boring. The buildings have the same architecture as [i]Ico[/i], albeit brighter and sunnier. And the characters have similar designs to the [i]Ico[/i] characters, all the way down to both heroes having horns on their heads. The colossi that you climb all over are amazing to look at as they rumble over the landscape. (Try not to get killed as you take a moment to gawk at them.)

The movements of the hero and his faithful steed are very fluid and realistic. The hero is not a superman by any means. If he runs too fast you will see him stumble over rocks in his path. He also tumbles and scrambles all over the colossus when it tries to shake you off. The horse also moves like a real life horse and is about as capricious as one.

Whether you are exploring the landscape or climbing on the colossi, the sound is always appropriate. You can hear birds chirp, the horse’s clops on the rocky terrain, and arrows hit things with a resounding thwack. The colossus fights bring in epic-sounding orchestral music that makes you truly feel as if you are attempting the impossible.

No. Really. At some points, you feel like you are attempting the impossible. Life isn’t too much of a concern, since it replenishes itself pretty quickly if you stay still long enough. However, you have to keep your eye on the circular grip strength meter, which slowly depletes over time the longer you cling for dear life on a colossus’s furry skin. As you explore the landscape, the game is kind enough to provide you with white-tailed lizards and fruit that you can shoot down and eat to help you with the later colossi.

While you A

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.