I was poking around on the articles page for no reason, and after a quick look-over of some of the mini-reviews, I discovered that I was rather harsh on Shadow of the Colossus when I reviewed it. I don’t remember being that down on it, and in retrospect, I think maybe I could have been a little nicer.
I guess the main reason that I was so cold toward the game back then is because my review was based on a rushed initial playthrough and a go at the easy time trials. Between now and then, I’ve bought the game (at $20, I definitely recommend picking it up) and played through it at least six more times.
I think the key to enjoying the game to its full potential is not to focus on getting to the end, but rather to take as long as you can to accomplish anything. While the environment doesn’t offer a lot of options when it comes to goofing off, there are a couple things to do. For one, speeding toward a cliff on Agro and then leaping from him over the side is always fun. What, you think dying isn’t fun? Oh, but I beg to differ. Half the fun of Shadow of the Colossus is finding new and/or higher places from where you can fling yourself to your death. Watching Wander flail hopelessly through the air only to crumple on the ground with a satisfying thud is perhaps a little sadistic, but holy cow is it ever entertaining to watch. It’s like the episode of Family Guy where they move to the south. You can hear Peter lament “It’s in my raccoon wounds” a million times, and it will always, always be funny.
Where climbing and deadly falls are concerned, let’s not forget the crowning achievement for any Shadow of the Colossus player: climbing the Shrine. It took me many hours of effort and painful deaths, but I did it. I had to resort to a YouTube video to figure out the last step, but even though I had to enlist some help, I still felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction as I stood atop of the Shrine. And while it may seem tedious to spend like seventy hours crossing a single bridge, it’s still exciting, because of all the effort it took to get to that bridge. And when you get across? Well, let’s say that it’s not easy to find such a good place to leap from. Setting targets helps. Once I almost landed right on Agro. Probably best that I didn’t though, as the universe probably would have imploded from the occurrence of a feat so near-impossible.
Of course, playing the game properly is perfectly good fun too. The thrill of single-handedly taking on a monster that’s eleventy-billion times your size never dulls. Not ever. And while the music provided by the game suits the moment well enough, putting your own soundtrack to the madness can enhance the experience tenfold. I play while listening to different music every time, and the pace of the music kind of changes how I go about the battles. It’s hard to explain, but it makes the experience seem a little different each time.
I guess the only thing I still hold against Shadow of the Colossus is the story. It’s still totally dumb, regardless of the fact that after spending a lot of time researching it on the internet I understand it a little better. However, that tiny gripe aside, I totally have to revise my opinion on the game. It’s not a renter anymore. Now that it’s a Playstation Greatest Hits title, and therefore only costs $20, it’s totally a buyer. I pick this one up every now and then and play through the entire game in one or two sittings. Aside from Guitar Hero, I think that Shadow of the Colossus is more than likely my most played PS2 game, and that’s saying a lot considering that the first time I played it I didn’t walk away with an overly positive opinion.