Pros:Simple but not simplistic. A unique, mesmerizing experience.
Cons:Some graphical sputtering and limited replay value.
The Bottom Line: Despite some flaws, Shadow of the Colossus is an artistic masterpiece that everyone should play.
Shadow of the Colossus is something different. Like Hollywood's summer blockbusters, most current games try to wow you with flash and special effects from the start. In contrast, the austere vista that serves as SotC's title screen foreshadows the shockingly minimalist approach to gameplay taken by the game's designers. While this flies in the face of popular trends, I found this reductionist view surprisingly refreshing and engrossing.
Recommend this product?
The objective of SotC is to find and defeat 16 Colossi - gargantuan behemoths of stone and fur that shake the earth and block out the sky. Your character, accompanied by his trusty steed, is armed only with a sword and bow. Though you have a magically endless supply of arrows , they inflict about as much damage to these Colossi as a BB-gun might to Sherman tank. Consequently, the game boils down to 16 re-enactments of David vs. Goliath. And in each confrontation, David's only chance at survival is to find the weakness in the Philistine's imposing visage. Like in the Zelda series, each boss fight is both a test of puzzle-solving and manual dexterity. The Zelda bosses were the highlights of each game. SotC's genius is that it consists solely of such moments.
But beyond the game design and mechanics, what makes SotC an unforgettable experience is the artistry that pervades every aspect. SotC is the rare piece of entertainment (be it film, text, or especially game) that can truly be called artistic. From the beautiful but barren landscape to the breathtaking recreation of sunlight to the menacing majesty of the Colossi to the hopeful but poignant musical score, it is clear that this game was a labor of love. The storyline, like the gameplay, is simple but also has great depth. Many "artistic" films trip over the line between profound and perplexing. I won't spoil anything here, but the storyline in SotC is detailed enough to reveal a vast mythology, but also leaves key elements to interpretation. Just like after reading an incredible novel or watching an evocative movie, you'll want to talk about this game with someone when you're done (please leave some comments!).
All this is not to say that Shadow of the Colossus is not without flaws. Visually speaking, though beautiful, the game does become choppy rather frequently. And like most games from a 3rd person perspective, the viewpoint frequently drifts to an obscured perspective and must be correctly manually. Additionally, in comparison to faster-paced action games, the controls are a little sluggish and awkward. Some of the awkwardness seems to be by design in order to convey the difficulties in navigating certain environments. But be forewarned that you may sense some frustration over a lack of responsiveness.
These flaws, which are significant, do degrade the overall gaming experience. But despite these imperfections, Shadow of the Colossus is a true masterpiece. It is original, moving, and thoroughly engrossing and is without doubt one of my best entertainment experiences this year.
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