Thursday, October 27, 2005

One of the Greatest Video Games Ever Made

There is an art to video games. Everything from controls to sound to characters must be designed well to make a good video game. There plenty of excellent video games that incorporate these elements wonderfully. Every now and then though, a video game can become actual art. Last night I bought such a game. It’s called Shadow of the Colossus. Earlier this year another excellent game called God of War was released. One of my favorite moments is a cut scene when your character leaps onto the last of the Titans. The sense of scale was amazing to see, but you couldn’t actually fight the Titan in that world. In Shadow of the Colossus, you get to do just that and you get to do it sixteen times! But this game is much more than that.

The game begins with your character riding a horse across a wasteland to a temple. In the temple you lay down the body of young woman. Your goal is to bring back her soul. To do this you must defeat the sixteen colossi that inhabit the wasteland. But this isn’t for certain. You are told that even if you complete these daunting tasks, there is no certainty that her soul will be returned. The only thing that makes this even a possibility is your magic sword which shows you the location of the colossi and their weak spots. You then go about your tasks of defeating the colossus. All that you have with you is your sword, bow, and horse.

This game is a lonely game, and I mean that in a good way. There are no hordes of baddies to slash through to reach the colossus. You get your information from an unseen deity. There is nobody but you. The game is simply you and your horse against the colossus. I know it sounds boring to simply ride your horse across a wasteland, but trust me the wasteland is so beautifully designed that riding is half the fun. And your horse looks and handles wonderfully. You traverse across narrow natural bridges, wind blown desserts, and the remains of ancient architecture. It all looks phenomenal, and creates what feels like this wasteland is a prison and the colossi are the inmates.

Which brings us to the colossi. They move and carry themselves how you would imagine a colossus would. The ground shakes and cracks with each step. They also look beautiful. To defeat each colossi you must figure out first how to climb on them. Some of them you have to walk up to and jump on. Some you have to jump onto as you ride by them on your horse. The second colossi you have to shoot in the bottom of the hoof. It’s quite exhilarating to stand with bow ready as the colossi brings its front hoofs to crush you. Once you’ve climbed upon the colossi you must then find the weak spots and strike those spots with your sword. This means climbing around while they try to shake you off. To make this even more complicated is that your grip strength will diminish the longer you hold on. There are locations on the colossi where you can stand or crouch to regain your grip strength. It makes for some wonderfully tense moments while you are thrusting your sword into the head of the colossi and you see your grip meter nearly at zero as he shakes his head trying to through you off. Do you try to make one more strike and possible kill him, or play it safe and climb to a place to rest? Do you have enough grip strength to make it to a safe spot? Even at the safe spot you can still get thrown.

All of this makes for a challenging and completely unique gaming experience. Part of what makes this game great is that it’s different from anything you’ve ever played before. It’s the most cinematic game I’ve ever played. It’s also probably one of the greatest and unique games ever made. This is not for your ADD little brother who needs something to with his hands. This is a work of video game art.

10 comments:

Bradford said...

Oh. It's a PS2 only game.

Tim said...

Sweet. I might go buy it. That's the heartiest endorsement I've seen yet. I'm excited, Brad. Thank you.

Bradford said...

Check IGN.com and 1up.com their reviews are far better than mine.

Keymaster said...

My brother-in-law helped create a computer game once. It was called Abuse. Really cool for the time - he designed one of the bad "witches" after my sister. Sadly, this was back in '96 so if you ever find the game it probably won't work on your computer. That's about the only thing I can talk about when it comes to computers.

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/abuse/

Bradford said...

How did your sister take to being the basis for a witch? Is he not in the game making business any more. Reading the review it sounds like a cool sidecroller. I don't know why I never heard of it.

bobby said...

I haven't read your post yet, but on the photos alone I'm hooked. Like War of the Monsters only better I'm assuming. My child within is slugging your shoulder.

Keymaster said...

Abuse was the #1 game in Denmark for a while but never caught on here. He got part of the royalties which helped him fund some of his later art installations. Now he's an art professor at Biola University. Pretty cool, huh?

Bradford said...

Bobby: It's actually nothing like War of the Monsters at least in gameplay, but it does give you that visceral thrill that's similar. It's so much better though.

Keymaster: That is definitely cool. It's nice when royalties can pay for what you wqant to do.

MOL Junior said...

my royalties from being an accountant fund moljunior.typepad.com

faith said...

You already know about me and games...I tend to die readily...but the graphics look amazing...I would give it a try just for the art of it! WOW!