Saturday 26 January, 2008
“Shadow of the Colossus” (PlayStation 2)
GameLog entry #2:
In this second gameplay session, I found some of the controls to be awkward. For example, when riding Agro, I tired of continually pressing the X button to kick him into action. I would have preferred using one of the analog sticks for movement. I also think there are too many camera-related controls (analog stick, L1, R2)--it is difficult to remember the differences.
I am not sure the camera is entirely successful. The player is able to control it using one of the DualShock analog controls, but the game itself sometimes chooses to move it in a way that prevents the player from seeing where he is going. This happened to me more often when I came upon a rocky impasse, and my horse would turn around and run the other direction, but the camera wouldn't. This is a minor quibble, however, for the camera effectively conveys a sense of excitement--when the horse is galloping full steam, the camera swoops in close, even slightly "jiggling" for a realistic hand held aesthetic.
What is good--very good--about "Shadow of the Colossus" is the challenge of defeating the colossi themselves. Each is a kind of puzzle, in a way, and the player must use logic and skill to defeat them. What is so-so about the game is the time it takes to get to the next challenge. As beautiful as the game world is, I often felt that it took too long to make any progress. The world is vast--so vast--that the player can ride his horse for miles and miles without encountering any body, creature, or object to interact with. The designers have implemented a clue to guide the player to his next destination--he can follow the beam of light reflected off his sword. But even with this as a guide, the pauses between colossi battles can drag on very long. Unfortunately, beyond the initial "wow" factor of the gorgeousness of the game world, this does not make for immersive gameplay. My entire second gameplay experience (1 hr. 10 min.) was spent riding around on my horse, making periodic stops to check the map and calibrate my sword-compass.
The other criticism I have is the map, which is not much help in figuring out where to go next, and how it is implemented in the game. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the convenience of being able to always see both the game world and the map on my Nintendo DS, but I would have liked for the designers to have incorporated a map overlay. As it is, the player must hit "Start," which pauses the action and replaces the game world with the map. I found myself having to toggle back and forth this way all too often--more than I would have liked.
This is a wildly ambitious game with some frustrating elements, but I don't think I will let them deter me from continuing to play and enjoy. Overall, my initial impression is that "shadow of the Colossus" gets more right than it does wrong. If nothing else, the game is a memorable visual feast of the first order.