Shadow of the Colossus

Picked Shadow of the Colossus up this afternoon and have put a couple of hours into it so far. Here’s my first impressions, which are kind of mixed.

  1. It doesn’t look good at all. Maybe it’s the TV I’m playing it on (cheap in general and no S-Video) and it’ll look better once I get home on my regular set, but the game looks extremely washed out, fuzzy, and bland. Ico was like this too, but SotC seems much more so. There’s hardly any color here at all, and it’s kind of hard to see things.

  2. I’m constantly fighting with the camera. The game does weird things with the camera, like change it on you for no apparent reason. For example, say my dude is running through a WIDE open area. Suddenly the camea swivels out to the side so that he’s not in the center of the screen. I try to rotate the camera with the right analog stick, but it’s just distracting and I suddenly notice that I’ve veered off to the left. I’ve come up with a solution to this problem, which I call “Stop fighting the camera and let it do whatever the hell it wants.” This works somewhat, but it’s still kind of annoying.

  3. I battled my first colossus and it was a GREAT experience. Here’s a webcam pic of what I looked like during the encounter:

Seriously. It was awesome. I hope the rest of them are as exciting as this one.

Kind of early to form an opinion beyond these first impressions, but I’ll write more after putting some more time in with it.

Other impressions?

  1. It doesn’t look good at all.

In my opinion, from playing it a very little and watching over another guy’s shoulder for an hour or so, this is one of the most visually stunning videogames ever. The overall effect is like nothing I have seen before and the art design on the colossi is great. Really, I was amazed to see something look this good on a PS2.

Can’t say much about the gameplay – the controls were difficult to master and I didn’t play it long enough to evaluate it more deeply.

I’ll preface this statement by saying I buy new games over the $30 price point maybe once or twice a year. I had a choice to buy this or Civ 4.

I figured my dollars would send a louder message by supporting this game at launch.

I’ll get Civ 4 used next year, I’m no rush.

Two down:

Nice. The second didn’t take much time at all. Both were awesome looking though. Very visceral though. The whole process of holding the sword, and plunging it in to the body, with black grease/smoke pouring out.

Re: Graphics

From what I’ve seen, S-video output and progressive scan do wonders for SotC. The problem with its art style is indeed a lack of contrast in some areas, which is mostly fixed by the hardware upgrades. Without it, as I am currently playing, the game’s visual quality (to my eye) drops significantly when I move from a high contrast area (most bosses) back to a low contrast area (central temple).

Re: Camera

Yea its a stone cold bitch the one or two times you need to futz with it, but you can adjust the sensitivity greatly from the options menu, which helps, but most of the time I just hold down L1 to camera lock on the colosuss. Problem solved, mostly.

Re: Bosses

6 down, 10 to go. Number 5 is so far my favorite - you have to ride on the wings of a GIANT STONE BIRD while it does sharp banking turns and barrel rolls to try and drop you. Thats like, five kinds of awesome right there.

Two down here as well. Having played the demo, I charged through the first Colossus in all of 3 minutes time.

The second one took me a good hour because of my incessant boobery in locating the ‘other vital point’. I was trying all sorts of stupid stuff, when in fact the answer was plainly obvious the whole time. I slapped myself when I finally found it, and then a wave of dissapointment crept over me as I realized I need not at all focus any energy on the location I was so certain had to be a weak spot. Phooey.

I’m really liking this game a lot though, it’s giving me similar vibes that Tomb Raider 1 did way back in late '96. I’ll agree that the camera can occasionnally be a trial to deal with, and the texturing isn’t the best, yet I still find the game stunning to look at. (Playing 16:9 mode on an HD set)

Oh and the music is phenomenal.

I second the motion of the game looking poor. I don’t really care about the color palette, but the PS2 really can’t handle the kind of thing they’ve tried to do. Textures suffer even more than usual, and on top of that, their animations are crap, and so quantized I’m surprised they even bothered. They might as well have just freeze framed everything and flipped between it, sprite style.

I haven’t played it yet, but man, that’s some quality hyperbole there.

–Dave

Well, here’s some non-hyperbole: The animations are so quantized that they look broken and/or buggy.

Yeah, I just finished that one and was grinning the whole time. Well, once I figured out how to mount the dang thing.

I like the game, but my concern at this point is that I’m going to blow through it so fast. Is it really just tracking down and slaying ond colossus after another? There really aren’t any other kinds of challenges? I was hoping for “Ico with big mofo colossi to climb and stab” but at this point there doesn’t seem to be any kind of exploration, puzzle solving (beyond the colossi themselves), or really cool environments like in Ico. It feels to me like the colossus fights should be spaced out and reached after doing some of that other stuff.

Yeah, I just finished that one and was grinning the whole time. Well, once I figured out how to mount the dang thing.

I like the game, but my concern at this point is that I’m going to blow through it so fast. Is it really just tracking down and slaying ond colossus after another? There really aren’t any other kinds of challenges? I was hoping for “Ico with big mofo colossi to climb and stab” but at this point there doesn’t seem to be any kind of exploration, puzzle solving (beyond the colossi themselves), or really cool environments like in Ico. It feels to me like the colossus fights should be spaced out and reached after doing some of that other stuff.[/quote]

Seconded, only minus the BS fights with those damn shadow thingys. The short climb to Colosuss #1 gave me hope there would be just a little platforming action to get to each boss, but no dice. So its merely great instead of mindblowingly awesome - but I have high hopes for the future of this developer. Can you imagine what their next game, on a next gen console, with next gen textures and lighting effects will look like?

EDIT: And if I normally pay $50 for 20 hours of a decent game, I will absolutely shell out $40 for 10 hours of a great game. I.e. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.

Agreed, the world is big, but rather empty and limp of any real platforming/dexterity challenges that make reaching the colossi a trial within itself. I was really hoping for some serious “Now how the %$&^ am I supposed to get way up there?” Lara Croft moments, but instead I just ride that taxi named Aggro. Rather straightforward.

The colossi are pretty fun to take down though.

The battles with the colossi are stunning. Probably some of the best gaming moments I’ve ever had. I especially love the effects, the way the ground shakes and everything blurs when the colosi attack, the whoose a blur when you are hanging onto the back of the flying colossus, etc.

I started to realize something last night. The colosi themselves are pretty stunning looking. They don’t come across as particullarly evil or menacing, they are just huge majestic creatures. After having to antagonize one of the colossi with my bow so it would even attack me, it dawned on me that they aren’t particularly violent creatures either. Think about it, its not like these guys are roaming the countryside terrorizing the local inhabitants or anything. Infact it looks like many of them are sleeping until you show up trying to poke them with your magical sword. And even then, they only attack you when you get close - they seem mostly defensive.

It just strikes me as a bit odd, I mean these colosi look like harmless, natural creatures seemingly hundreds if not thousands of years old, and don’t seem particularly evil. You are just running around destroying these magnificent beasts because some gibbersish talking bozo in the sky told you it would bring back your dead girlfriend. He might as well have told you to go kick kittens or slay some fluffy bunnies.

That being said, it is still a fantastic game and i’m enjoying it immensly.

ps - why does it look like all my limbs are going to simultaneously fall off when I jump?

pps - is anyone else reminded of those stupid esuvee commercials when the see the colosi?

:?:

Couple Questions:

Are there a lot of powerups?
Is there more than one strategy to use per boss?
Do you only have the sword, bow, and horse?
Can you do a lot of tricks with the sword, bow and horse?

There are none. This ain’t Mario. Hell, I was surprised there’s a health bar.

Not really.

Right.

Nope. Although you do use the sword to find the Colossi!

Based on this little Q&A, you’d likely think the game is boring. Perhaps not even a game. On the contrary, it’s tons of fun, refreshing, and will go down as a favorite of many (most?) that play it.

It’s very much boiled down and has a great tranquility to it. You do nothing but find and fight the Colossi. The fun is in figuring out how to take these huge magestic creatures down, and watching as your character holds on for dear life.

Only powerups are Nitro boost, fireball attack, triple jump, and that weird skull icon that I believe transforms the horse into a giant mechanized tank temporarily, but I haven’t found one yet.

Seriously though, considering there is nothing in the game that progresses your hero, it is a bit surprising that you at least don’t even have the freedom to tackle the colossi in any given order. Very strict in its linearity so far. Actually I’ve read that there are hidden geckos and frogs or something that extend your grip meter and health gauge when you find and kill them, but it would seem overkill given how surprisingly little damage a 100 foot drop does to your vitality.

The biggest puzzle in the game involves figuring out the exact way to hop aboard the colossi, each one presenting a unique mini-solution. Once aboard though, they all seem to go down in the same manner(so far). It’s mostly a battle of attrition trying to manage your grip meter between hitting safe spots and searching for the ‘vital stab point’ as they try to toss you every which way off their backs.

The game is kept simple to play, but you can stand on top of your horse while in motion and shoot arrows which looks really neat.

Correct, that’s not hyperbole. It’s just completely wrong.

Excellent point, and I think this may factor in later in the game. At the beginning the voice/god/skylight thing says you may pay a terrible price in the end for what you do, and I imagine it’s related to hunting down and killing these magnificent creatures. Bringing one down is fantastic, but the sad music and the slow collapse of the collosi tend to make me feel a slight pang of guilt for killing them.

Overall I love it so far (five down). The framerate is a bit chunky in places, and it took a while to really figure out how to control the horse effectively, but the world is fascinating just to ride through. I was kind of hoping for more Ico-esque climbing sequences on the way to the colossi, but I’m satisfied with taking in the scenery and wondering what this obviously dying world once was. It really does need to be played in progressive scan for the full effect, though. With normal cables and even S-video to some degree, it’s very shimmery.

The battle against the fifth colossus may be my favorite thing in a game so far this year, narrowly edging out the Krauser fights in RE4. Hopefully SotC can keep up this momentum and the battles will continue to raise the bar throughout the game.

Guess we haven’t played the same set of games, because the bar has been raised far above what this game offers in terms of animation.

Guess we haven’t played the same set of games, because the bar has been raised far above what this game offers in terms of animation.[/quote]

Which, of course, doesn’t make plain good animation bad simply because it’s not phenomenal. I would say SotC has excellent animation. Look at the weight in the movement of the colossi or the fluidity of the main character when hanging on for dear life or recovering from a fall, or the horse in motion or simply standing there stamping its hooves. Occasionally it looks choppy due to the inconsistent framerate, but the animation itself is rock solid.