ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection Review

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection bonus video clipclips from the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection bonus video content2011-09-26T17:30:44.000Z

The PlayStation 3 has been a great opportunity for older games to shine once again. Enhanced re-releases have not only help to overcome technical deficiencies that were unavoidable on the original hardware, but they can also help introduce them to a new audience that may have missed them the first time around.

But at the same time, I have the same basic attitudes towards them as I do the Star Wars re-releases. Take the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, which happens to cover two of my most favorite games: there was really nothing wrong with how they were originally. In fact, I enjoyed all the imperfections that some might scoff at.

I guess it shows what a huge gaming dork I am, but the reason why I prefer enjoy older titles is because game makers simply had to try harder to accomplish what they wanted. And seeing games that push the hardware far past the point of what was originally intended is something I personally enjoy.

Granted, erratic frame rates can be a hindrance after a while, but I try to view such things in context. Something most folks could care less about. At least some are in agreement that seeing a bunch of idiots playing make believe in the desert is more compelling than some CGI puppets. But enough about Star Wars…

Actually, no. My primary beef with the Special Editions and moving forward is how, if you’re going to make improvements, go all the way. As blasphemous as it may sounds, since Empire Strikes Back is clearly the best of the bunch, I was shocked and even disappointed that the entirety of the AT-AT scene wasn’t replaced by computer-generated imagery.

Though I guess the fact that it remains the one original to be barely touched, despite the other being perpetually tinkered with, is evidence of it being so damn good in the first place. But my point being is, why not take full advantage of today’s tech? Hence why I’ve always been fundamentally turned off by all the re-releases. Ultimately, they feel like cheap and easy cash-ins, to ask fans to buy the same games over again.

So yeah, I basically didn’t want to enjoy Ico & SoTC all over again because I thought the originals look already, but also I wanted a total make over as well. Pretty contradictory I know. Well guess what: I was wrong. The HD collection is still pretty damn awesome.

Other reviewers have hailed it as modern masterpiece, a true realization of the powerful potential that the medium is capable of, in terms of game design, art direction, and everything in between. To that I say “late to the part, I see”. But there’s no denying that they truly do live up to the hype, and are also the best examples of video games as art. And maybe it’s for the best that they’re coming now, well after that somewhat silly debate has run out of steam. I can see some avoiding the original releases since they were constantly being brought up my douche-chill educing game academic types.

There’s also no denying that the enhanced resolution makes details that had been previously lost in a blurry haze become clear at long last. So diehard fans will indeed not miss the lower resolution or erratic frame rates, because the beautiful animation also stands out more so than ever before. All the technical issues, which didn’t hinder the proceedings, are nonetheless done away with, in order for the story, atmosphere, and action to really shine.

But if you’re not familiar with the originals, apologies, and here’s a brief explanation: Ico has you trying to escape a castle by solving puzzles and overcoming shadowy beasts, all with a helpless girl by your side (who is the object of the aforementioned dark figures). Shadow of the Colossus has you trying to take down 16 giant beasts to appease the gods, so your dead girlfriend will be brought back to life.

The Last Guardian
[BoxTitle]The Last Guardian[/BoxTitle] [Trailer]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHzHoMT5eRg[/Trailer]

Those aren’t the best descriptions, but when you get down to it, if one tried to describe Super Mario Bros, it would probably sound equally lame. It’s all about the execution, as demonstrated by SoTC especially. When folks first heard about a game in which all you do is take down 16 bosses, in any order really, and with absolutely no other enemies to deal with… all you do is ride your horse along long ass stretches of terrain, seriously… many scoffed at the notion.

But the end product was a profoundly deep, dare I say existential exercise in motivations, consequences, and simply being. Which still made for a damn fine game. The same with Ico, which has you leading a girl around, literally by hand. Sounds lame, and pretty cheesy, yet it all works in the confines of a game. And again, it’s even better than before on various levels.

Another reason for fanboys of both to put down their hard earned cash on games they’ve already played a million times is for the extras. There’s a good deal of behind the scenes, pre-production footage. That, yes, you’ve already seen before on YouTube. But to have it all together, and in Blu-ray quality, is nice. Though the best part is the roundtable between the game’s creator, Fumito Ueda, and his colleges, all chatting about their creation and other related aspects in a very frank manner (especially among Japanese creative types, who are generally super positive about whatever they say, especially the competition). No need for me to spoil the goods.

In the end, it’s a collection containing two games worth re-visiting, and if it’s your first time, there’s absolutely no reason to finally check them out. If anything, they’re the perfect primer for the game Ueda has been working on since, and which is due sometime next year (we all hope). That being The Last Guardian, which will be the PS3’s new gold standard for pretty much everything.

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