ajrich's Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
| [March 30, 2008 06:07:28 AM]
| I got a bunch more Colossi before I had to return it to the library. This was a while ago, so I forget how many, but I do remember some things.|
The water snake was drawn about a bit longer than it should have been - especially once all three of the electric prongs are disabled and the thing can no longer harm you. Once the last prong is disabled, it would have been good design to also disable the the part of the AI that makes it dive beneath the water for an indefinite period of time, which forces you to let go of the thing and start the climbing step all over again.
The bull chased me out of its lair at least twice. At one point it was bugged and I had to expose myself to its attack in order to get it to leave a small part of the stage, and I barely made it to the lake that prevents it from following you to the surface.
The hint system I praised earlier failed pretty spectacularly at the turtle colossus. There's absolutely no mention of a key game mechanic unique to this level: the stones on the creature's head can be struck to guide its movement. I had to look the damn thing up on gamefaqs, which a well designed game should never do.
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| [February 21, 2008 01:22:31 AM]
Only got two Colossi this time, mostly because the bird presented a step up in challenge: this one actually came close to killing me, and threw me off after I climbed on it - both more than once. It was the first colossus that wasn't effectively a puzzle - before the bird, once I figured out what was necessary, it was trivial for me to accomplish it. I also got a much better feel for the horse. Unlike most game vehicles, the horse in this game mostly steers itself. This is especially evident when riding through narrow paths - the horse will make the small adjustments necessary to navigate a crooked stone bridge on its own, and attempting to steer through them manually will only slow you down.
By description, Shadow of the Colossus at first seems to be a string of boss battles separated by games of hide-and-seek. However, the bosses are more like levels than boss battles, as their bodies constitute an environment which must be navigated in order to reach a goal point. A puzzle element precedes the core navigation which constitutes the meat of the game: reaching the navigable portion of any given Colossus' hide is not a simple matter of running up to its leg and jumping on. There is an automatic hint system, which has thus far delivered genuinely helpful advice after giving me a reasonable interval in which to figure things out for myself, not a trivial design accomplishment by all accounts.
I haven't mentioned the presentation side of things at all yet, but since it appears that from the sixth Colossus on finding the fight is no longer trivial, I have to in order to make a gameplay related point. Shadow of the Colossus was made to be a beautiful game, and it is, but the aesthetic chosen for this purpose was very realistic, and so has fallen to the common fate of all realistic games: the relentless march of technological advancement has dated it. Therefore, the forced delay between battles, which was designed to show off the world, is far less justifiable than it may have been at launch. Worse, if one gets lost, the only hint available is the sword's ability to point you towards the next target, which doesn't even work in every area (it requires sunlight).
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| [February 20, 2008 03:53:13 AM]
Shadow of the Colossus requires the player to locate and destroy a series of enormous creatures, the eponymous Colossi. In order to do so, the player must climb over their bodies, seeking "vital points," which may be stabbed in order to damage a Colossus. Climbing is limited by a timer, presented as a shrinking red circle in the lower right corner of the screen, which is replenished whenever the player is standing, rather than holding on or falling.
Having defeated the first three colossi in a little more than an hour, my impression thus far is that Shadow of the Colossus is fundamentally about navigation. You ride your horse to the general vicinity of your designated target. Upon arrival, players are either presented with a brief climbing section (which separates them from their horse) before reaching the Colossus, or the Colossus simply strides onto the scene.
Once the Colossus is present, defeating is is once again a challenge of navigation. Thus far Colossi have provided feeble opposition to navigation - they occasionally shake themselves, which can throw the player off platforms or stop their movement while climbing. However, so far I've found that holding R1 while standing on Colossi platforms, which both crouches, thereby improving stability, and grabs the nearest handhold in the event that players are nevertheless thrown off their footing, is sufficient to all but guarantee that once you're on a Colossus, you won't fall off. The one true obstacle is finding a way to climb on - the second Colossi, for example, must be shot in the bottom of one of it's feet to be boarded, which is best achieved when it rises to attack.
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