The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus collection Review

Posted: December 23, 2011 by E-mann in REVIEWS

Considered by many to be the two biggest examples of video games as art, Team Ico’s masterpieces have returned in The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection.  Have these games withstood the test of time?  Or have the years tarnished their once brilliant luster?

To that last question, I whole heartily say no.  Ico and Shadow of the Colossus still deliver an experience that is unlike any other in gaming before or since.  Both games combine beautiful ambiance, third-person platforming and puzzle-solving under one key concept, that emotion should be the driving force behind what is played.

It has been 11 years since the release of Ico.  A least for me, the game represents a really great unexpected find that was worth every penny.  Since completing the game, I have always recommended the title to whoever I could. Unfortunately the game hasn’t been easy to obtain until now.

In Ico you play Ico (a horned boy) in his adventure to escape a castle that he and Yorda (a mysterious tall pale girl) are imprisoned in.  At its core, Ico is an interactive fairytale where you need to save the princess despite the insurmountable odds.  A key story element lies in the connection and bond of leading Yorda through the castle and trying to protect her from the dangers of the game. The game consists of platforming, combat, and puzzle solving mostly at the expense of Yorda who is not as nimble as Ico.  For the most part there is nothing that can kill you other than high falls, however Yorda getting captured causes a game over.  For better or worse, Yorda is a key and the majority of the game is an escort mission. Yorda can be a bit difficult at times due to her AI not being as sharp but like any relationship your are going to have issues with your partner.  Sometimes calling her over to you can be a bit of a task.  Also you’ll run into a couple wonky camera angles since the game has a fixed cinematic camera. These are minor complaints however when looking at the game as a whole.

In Shadow of the Colossus, you are Wander and you’re on a quest to restore a lost companion’s life in a mysterious forbidden land.  In order to do so, Wander must defeat 16 Colossi that roam the land as commanded by a disembodied voice.  The world of Shadow of the Colossus is open. You can “wander” and explore every inch of the forbidden land.  Despite your freedom, there is a looming sense of loneliness.  Except for Wander, his horse and the Colossi, there are no enemies or other characters.  Shadow of the Colossus is essentially a game of boss battles. They are the meat and potatoes of the game.  Each colossus is its own challenge.  They are almost game levels. You need to climb and platform around their bodies in order to find their weak points and attack them. That’s not without its problems of course because the camera has a bit of a mind of its own and has some issues focusing on you which can be a little frustrating on a difficult jump.

As far as HD remakes goes, The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus collection is top of the food chain.  The graphics are beautiful, sharp and run at a solid 60 FPS. A lot of love was put in to these remakes from selection menus to the loads of additional content like documentaries and interviews.

U.S. fans of Ico will get an extra treat when replaying the game.  This version of Ico is based on the final European version which had many features and additions not seen in the States.  There is a redesigned puzzle room, unlockable two-player mode, alternate ending and special English translation for Yorda and a new weapon (which becomes available after a full playthrough).  The only minor draw back to the two player mode in Ico is that it’s only local play. It would have been awesome to play through the game via the Playstation network with a friend.  There is also the addition of stereoscopic 3D and Trophy support for each game.

It was fun to go back and play these wonderful games over again.  Personally I found myself amazed at how much I remembered from both.  It was like watching a favorite movie you knew all the lines from.  If you haven’t played either game you are definitely in for a treat.  You should do yourself a favor and pick up Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection.

Liked

  • Fun and interesting game design
  • Atmospheric graphics and art design
  • Having the definitive version of Ico which has extra content

Disliked

  • The inability to  quit back to the main menu
  • Bad camera angles

The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus collection was developed by Team Ico / Blue Point and published by Sony computer entertainment.  It was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and is available now for $39.99.  The copy played for this review was a new retail copy.

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