The lights are on
Ten years after Ico's original release, the HD version has
hit shelves along with the sequel and loose prequel Shadow of the Colossus.
Both games now run in full 1080p with stereoscopic 3D and are packaged on one
disc for $40. Rather than haphazardly remake this collection, Team Ico has
demonstrated their full talent in game design by making these classics just as
memorable as they were years ago.
There exists no better example of a cult classic than Ico.
Receiving generally favorable scores when it was first released in 2001, Ico
never fully caught on with the public. This is the chance for those who missed
the PS2 version to experience a tale of believable companionship and unprovoked
sacrifice. The main character Ico, the basis for the name of the game and
developer, has been imprisoned within a mysterious castle where he finds a girl
of unknown origin. Controlling only Ico and prompting the girl, Yorda, to
follow, players have to escape the castle while solving mind bending puzzles and
fighting off shadow beasts.
Not much has changed in the realm of gameplay. Players still
drag Yorda along, fighting off enemies with the swing of a stick or sword, and
she still acts as an unusually gangly, helpless maiden whose only purpose is to
open locked doors. However, the relationship between Ico and Yorda is as strong
as ever, making these frustrating segments seem less pointed and unbearable.
One noteworthy change is that this HD collection is based off the PAL version
of the original, instead of the North American version. While this means little
for those in Europe, those elsewhere receive slightly
altered segments; the primary difference being a new game plus mechanic that
enables co-op play with Yorda. The other, slightly less noticeable alteration
is a new puzzle half way through the story. Furthermore, bonus content in the
way of commentary and early concept videos pertaining to both Ico and Shadow of
the Colossus are also available.
Moving on to the second updated game in the collection,
Shadow of the Colossus is as much a sequel to Ico as it is an improvement. Regarded
by many critics as one of the greatest PS2 games, it is the primary driving
force behind video games as an art form. Players control the mysterious
traveler, Wander, as he tries to resurrect his sacrificed love by toppling 16
colossi with the help of a magic sword and his horse, Agro.
Fans should be glad to hear that the HD version doesn't
dilute the original's reputation in any way. The scenic vistas are actually
improved with the higher quality visuals, as is the sense of awe at being in
the huge open world. Quickly changing terrains, from grassy plains to arid
desert, is still amazing. One previous complaint from the original was its
funky control scheme. A button configuration option is now available, making
the button layout more comparable to today's standards. Some of the later
colossi are still frustrating beyond comprehension, but with the option of a
new control scheme, this frustration is more due to player error than a misstep
in game design.
With the enhanced graphics and better controls, this is the
optimal method to experience these two classics. Both Ico and Shadow of the
Colossus are masterpieces of gaming and the HD update simply serves to solidify
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