The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Video game elitists insist that people must earn the right to call
themselves gamers. Enjoying playing games isn’t enough; you need to
prove your dedication by experiencing a shifting collection of
definitive titles. The specific entries vary, but both Ico and Shadow of
the Colossus are frequently mentioned on such lists. I don’t advocate
that exclusionary view of gaming, but I agree that these titles from
Team Ico perfectly illuminate many facets of the medium’s appeal.
games provide a broad spectrum of experiences. On one end, you have the
adrenaline-fueled action embodied by Sony’s other compilation this
month, God of War: Origins Collection. On the other end of the spectrum
are Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, titles that rely on understatement
and ambiguity to convey their stories. You won’t find any combo
multipliers or headshots, but these adventures slowly and deliberately
build an emotional connection in a way that few games have accomplished
before or since.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus seem simple on the
surface. The former is about guiding a young woman through a castle,
and the latter is about killing 16 monsters to bring a loved one back to
life. Through subtle character interactions and vibrant visuals, these
straightforward premises are transformed into engrossing tales. Both
efforts from director Fumito Ueda and his team are often cited as
examples of video games as an art form, and their remastered
incarnations only add more weight to the argument.
framerate and HD visuals benefit both titles significantly, which isn’t a
trivial statement considering how good these games looked when they
first released. In terms of content, Shadow of the Colossus is
essentially the same, but Ico is based on the original’s European
release so it has a few differences from the North American PS2 version.
A few puzzles are slightly altered (including one timing-based piston
jump that took me multiple attempts), but the most notable changes arise
after you’ve beaten the game. On subsequent playthroughs, Yorda’s
dialogue is accompanied by legible subtitles, so you can finally
understand her. You can also activate a co-op mode in which a second
player controls Yorda. The camera still focuses on Ico, and Yorda can’t
do anything she couldn’t before, but having a human control her means
she moves more intelligently and efficiently. Both of these extras are
cool bonuses for hardcore fans, encouraging at least two playthroughs.
Ico has the most additional stuff, Shadow of the Colossus excels in its
own new way. Both titles in the collection feature 3D support, but
Shadow of the Colossus uses it the best. I usually think that 3D is a
stupid gimmick, but this marks the only time it has enhanced my
experience rather than feeling like a throwaway novelty. The scale of
the colossi – and the sense of vertigo caused by dangling from them – is
conveyed well through the 3D effect. The end result isn’t cool enough
to justify the purchase of a 3D TV, but it’s a nice perk for those who
already own one.
Games from previous generations face the danger
of not resonating with modern audiences. Gaming evolves rapidly, and
what worked five years ago may not cut it today. This was not even a
remote concern as I replayed both games in this collection. Yes, the
controls in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are rusty by current
standards, but the basic mechanics aren’t what made these games
landmarks in the industry. These sad and compelling masterpieces create
immersive worlds, interesting characters, and memorable journeys. That
hasn’t changed in the intervening years, and playing through them again
in this unbeatable package only serves as a reminder that no other
developer can imitate Team Ico’s singular style.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.