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Shadow of the Colossus

Spruced-up remasters are commonplace these days, but Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 stands out for the sheer significance the original game. Often ranked highly among the best games ever made, this sweeping action adventure follows the lonely quest of Wander and his trusty steed Agro as they take down gargantuan stone beings who roam the land. The gameplay is largely the same, albeit with the option to use a new control scheme, but the visuals are (if you’ll pardon the pun) a colossal improvement, with completely redone textures and character models replacing the now-muddy-looking textures of the PS2 original. Hopefully this PS4 remaster will retain all the magic of the original and modernize this masterpiece for anyone who missed it the first time.



The Paris Games Week demo offered three Colossus to tackle: one, three and 13. Anyone familiar with the game will immediately know exactly what’s in store in each of these enormous boss battles. But for anyone coming into the game fresh, they’re in for a real treat.

The first thing that’s striking is how beautiful the game is. Making excellent use of HDR, it’s simply stunning. This doesn’t just look good for a PS2 remake, this looks great for a PS4 game, period.

 The lighting effects as the sun rises over the mountains, or breaks through the trees as you journey through the forest is beautiful. Taking on the Colossus also reveals great detail in their fur. Bluepoint has truly done a stellar job bringing this game to Sony’s latest console.

 

Gameplay

The game plays exactly as it used to, or more specifically, how you think it used to. While still retaining some of the quirkiness of the original, the game is now way more fluid, and is fully up to date with modern gamers’ expectations. The movement controls feel tight, and getting around the environment feels smooth, and traversal comes naturally. This is crucial in combat, and the camera keeps up with rapid movement well, which is crucial in those all-important Colossus battles.

It took a few attempts to get to grips with climbing. Learning to hold R2 the whole time, letting go only in the brief moments I felt brave enough to leap up a Colossus, or from one ledge to the next, was tricky. A few failed attempts and I was up to speed.

Riding on horseback can also be cumbersome at times, especially if trying to either use your sword’s light to guide your way or fire arrows. The camera zooms in very close, meaning you completely lose track of where your horse is going, and can completely veer off course while trying to aim a shot. But most of the time this isn’t a problem.

One thing this game definitely hasn’t added for a new audience are better tutorials. Don’t expect Shadow of the Colossus to hold your hand much; if you don’t know what you’re doing, grab a guide to learn the basics. This is very much a game that presents a world and expects you to learn on the go.

There were a couple of times where I felt completely stuck, and it was only after being told how to combine some of the game’s control mechanics that I was able to move on to the next part of the game. For example, I got completely lost trying to find the thirteenth Colossus, taking the wrong exit through the forest as I followed my sword’s light and ended up in a swamp, as opposed to the desert where the game was (poorly) trying to guide me.

The star of the show is of course the fights with the Colossus themselves, and all three were incredible. Each offering something a little different, they carried that thrilling sense of accomplishment that follows an epic and challenging battle.

 

The Verdict

I remember becoming so frustrated when I first played the game back in the day because I kept getting thrown off the first Colossus thanks to clunky controls and the inconsistent ability to grab, but that was definitely not the case here. Keeping a close eye on my stamina, I slowly but surely was able to work my way up the giant beast, and take it down.

The excellent camera really does capture the sense of scale, pulling out to a great distance as the Colossus moves away or prepares an attack, before zooming in close as you attack or climb around it. Every single battle was utterly thrilling, and the frustration I previously felt playing this game in both its iterations fell away and were replaced by pure fun.
I’m gobsmacked at how good Shadow of the Colossus looks and how great it feels to play. It certainly retains the core old-school challenge that made it such a classic, but it feels modern and won’t alienate a new audience looking for a challenge.

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