ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection - PS3

Also known as: ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Classics HD

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ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3)
Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Media: Blu-Ray Arcade origin:No
Developer: Team ICO Soft. Co.: SCEE
Publishers: SCEE (US/GB)
Released: 30 Sept 2011 (GB)
May 2011 (US)
Ratings: PEGI 12+
Accessories: Stereoscopic 3D
Features: DualShock 3 Vibration Function


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Some games really do transcend their low-brow plastic-spooned birth and enter the world of art. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, art being all personal like. Ico on the other hand, lives on as arguably the first attempt at delivering an emotive and interactive piece of console art.

You play Ico, a boy born of a generational curse that sees him grow horn-like growths from within his skull. Cowering under the shadow of an empire that sees his birth as a prophesised threat to its existence, Ico’s family is apathetic when the ghostly horsemen come to take him away. They always knew it would happen and to fight it would only bring further misery to the already ostracised.

The game begins when Ico is left for dead in a catacomb, buried alive. He pushes it open and it falls, crashing to ground. Immediately the vastness of the castle and the scale of the escape task is realised. The first room is huge, almost overwhelming. All is grey, old, decaying. There is nothing organic in the place, just ramshackled ramparts and staircases that trail away into nothingness. A feeling of loneliness and an empathy with Ico’s smallness are the first pieces in a puzzle that will change the way you think about videogames for ever. There is no background music in Ico, with the development team opting for environmental noises instead. This delivers further feelings of tangibility, with the scuffing of Ico’s feet reverberating around his chamber.

The opening scene reaches its climax when Ico finds a translucent, beautiful girl trapped inside a hanging cage in one of the castles giant inner chambers. She is Yorda. Neither Ico nor Yorda know where they are, or how to escape. The massive castle has no exits, the rooms seemingly isolated and singular. However, the bond between the two children, though never vocalised, is about as close to love as a videogame can portray. When Ico, diminutive, unkempt and deformed, rescues Yorda, delicate and angelic, there is an unspoken understanding of a common need and a link between them that simply forces the player to become involved.

And the relationship between the two and your understanding of it, again transcends what is usually possible within a videogame. Perhaps it reminds you of those times when you were younger, 12 or so, still a bit scruffy, and you meet a girl, slightly older, who is beautiful. You play together on holiday and you can do more than her. You can, as Ico can, jump further, run faster, though none of that really matters to either of you. There is a bond forged in the confusion of entering adulthood that is a moment in life passing faster than you could understand at the time.

It is now that the true brilliance of the game mechanic that underpins Ico hits home. Ico is tough and rugged but Yorda is fragile and weak. Holding down R1 makes Ico grasp Yorda’s hand, and he drags her with him as they seek to escape. But certain problems are too much for the girl. She cannot jump or fall far. She cannot push obstacles and cannot climb. Ico must manipulate the castle at every turn to get Yorda through. At no point during this do you wonder why he must take her with him. You simply understand. Yorda has a connection with the castle. She can operate magical portals into new rooms. There is a delightful balance and co-dependency between the two, something fresh that goes someway towards further underlining the importance of this game. It is this that is the true heart of this RPG.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus was the follow-up from Team Ico. Its not a pick up and play game, and it’s not a game that you can just dip in an out of. It’s a real epic and immersive videogaming experience, which demands your time and attention and rewards you accordingly.

The game is in the style of an epic fantasy adventure yarn set in far off, mysterious lands, in which you play as a lone horseback traveller, riding around the massive, beautiful levels on horseback in search of the titular Colossi.

The background story goes something like this – at the start of the game you find out that your destiny is entwined with that of a lifeless young girl who lies on an altar within a vast temple. The girl is helpless, her soul has been lost and there is only one way to retrieve it. Following a voice from the heavens, you are to embark on a dark and dangerous quest to seek out and slay the enormous wandering monsters that roam this strange world. Only through slaying defeat formidable and immense Colossi can you bring life to the girl who lies waiting on the altar.

Each of the unique Colossi are immense in size and strength, and you are required to grasp and climb each one with precision and stealth and find out where their weak point is in order to strike the deathblow to bring them crashing to the ground.

In between slaying these strangely sad and beautiful monsters you have your trusty steed, Agro, for company. Riding Agro around the extensive lonely plains, mountains, lush countryside, sinister lakes, great caves and ancient ruins is strangely satisfying as an end in itself. Just wandering around on Agro taking in the view is one of the most relaxing videogame experiences you can have.

Shadow of the Colossus is a rare thing indeed, its epic and cinematic, yet subtle and in no way ‘overblown’ as many so-called epic games are.