The Art Of Killing

A Review Of "Shadow Of The Colossus"

Platform: PS2

What is art? A painting by da Vinci? Michelangelo's David? A guitar solo by Hendrix, maybe. But while Mona Lisa can be seen, David can be felt, and a riff by Jimi can be heard, none of these art forms can be controlled. They are what they were when created. But now video games, no longer confined to being kill simulators and virtual ping-pong, can become controllable art. "Shadow of the Colossus" proves this point.

It's difficult to give "Shadow of the Colossus" a specific genre. Action, adventure, platformer, even fighting all make sense. This is because the gameplay is so original that SotC barely scratches the surface of what could be. The focus of the game is the defeat of the Colossi, hulking creatures that are the embodiment of strange idols the player must destroy. There are 16 in total, each different from the last. Some resemble the true Colossus, bipedal humanoids, often wielding large stone weapons. Others are shaped like massive animals, crabs, bulls and even snakes.

What all have in common is the armor they wear, ornate stone that you can grab the edges of, furry hides that can be attacked or used as a climbable wall, and magical weak points that must be destroyed in order for the monster to be killed. The weapon list is more diverse than you might expect; the game generally allows the sword and bow to be used, but special equipment can be found in special modes of play. Outside of battle, the gameplay footage could easily be used as "Lord of the Rings" stock footage. Traveling around on your horse is more fun than you'd think, especially when "that little hill" ahead of you is actually the end of a cliff that leads to a 500-foot drop, common in this strange land.

"Shadow of the Colossus" is a beautifully made game. Each part of the world is crafted to be not only fantastic and eye catching, but with an added sense of realism as well. Land bridges extend over huge coves; a highway-sized bridge spans the vast badlands. In the west, ruins and temples dot the long stretch of desert.

The world isn't divided into levels; in fact, it's hard to really classify it into sections. Everything is one large area, and there are no load times for just exploring the map. As for the characters, the game manages to keep them looking original because there are so few. The Colossi, clearly the main focus of the game, are stunning. They really are walking sculptures, creatures wearing armor that both protects them and acts as a platform for the player to maneuver around.

The sound is perfect. I'm not going to lie; I have the entire soundtrack on my computer. In the peaceful rides to your enemies, calm music flows from one track to another. A short song, some kind of ancient melody, accompanies discovering a new area. And the overtures for the battles seem as overwhelming as the Colossi themselves.

It's rare that a game as good as "Shadow of the Colossus" comes out. But when one achieves the level of speed, intensity and pure beauty that this game has, you can't afford to miss it.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment