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Reviews VideoGame / Shadow Of The Colossus

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06/14/2014 15:02:00 •••

It's worth getting for the novelty and aesthetics, but actual gameplay is a matter of taste

The game straddles a line between awesomely grand and tediously hollow. One moment, the orchestral score rises, and a classical hero gains the upper hand against a mighty foe. The next moment, fiddly controls see you fall off, and you swear when you realize you'll have to spend the next few minutes getting back into position.

One moment, you're quiet with appreciation as the voice of Dormin delivers a riddle in the magnificent temple where you begin each task, and you are left to ponder further the history behind the temple, the voices, and the colossi themselves. The next moment, you're bored stiff as you ride past yet another rocky outcrop and abandoned structure, and start to suspect the developers were too lazy to add any substance to the story, like explaining why I should feel sad about killing the things when I just spent my money on this game and it offers nothing else worth doing.

One moment, you're compelled to stop and drink in every detail of the colossus that has just raised its head to the sky, and to marvel at the unique flavour of its surroundings, before beginning to plan your attack. The next moment, you realize they've just served up a tweaked version of a colossus you've already fought, and Dormin's "tips" are really starting to get on your nerves.

One moment, your heart is pumping, your blood racing, and your mouth grinning in blood-lust as the weak point is revealed and you lunge for it. The next moment, you're wondering if the endgame is going to reveal any new information on these things or if this is just item number nine on your grocery list.

My point is that this is a hard game to judge. It's definitely got an artistic style to appreciate, and it employs gameplay mechanics you wouldn't have thought would work, but it also makes some poor trade-offs between an enjoyable game and an artistic experience of a grand, desolate style, erring too often for the latter. The story is highly ambiguous and comes off as insubstantial as a result, since you're not even told who these characters are, never mind why you should care about them.

As for the true stars of the show, it's unfortunate that there are so few, since even one or two bad ones quickly take a big chunk of the game's quality with them. My favourites tend to be more action-oriented ones, but YMMV.

Overall worth getting, but expect some rough bits.

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