A couple of nights ago, I finally completed Shadow of the Colossus. As a big fan of Ico, I was both thrilled and somewhat disappointed with this title.
The game is beautiful, and the gameplay is inventive and original. Some of the sequences in the game are extremely memorable, and the whole game was rarely boring. It’s a game that any “real” gamer needs to play, in my opinion. Yet, despite all of that, I think the final product must remain squarely in “B” territory.
My biggest complaint, bar none, is with the game control. In particular, riding the horse was an unnecessary pain in the ass. For starters, the horse sometimes just felt like slowing down for the hell of it. I never knew if I was supposed to hold “X” or just keep pounding it until I cracked the horse’s ribs. Especially in tight areas, I had to beat the horse into glue before he’d finally start moving right. Worse, during colossus battle sequences, he would always seem to find something to run into, instead of intelligently maneuvering around an obstacle and continuing on our way. If that wasn’t enough, when trying to shoot the lizards at the save shrines, he would come running into my way - because heaven forbid I was a few steps away from the damn thing.
The controls off the horse, however, were often annoying too. Some moves - like jumping from one ledge to another - failed to take camera orientation into consideration, so while you think you’re supposed to hold the stick in the direction you want to jump (based on the orientation of what you see on the screen), you really have to hold the stick straight down, no matter what. Of course, if you get it wrong, your character falls to his death. Wonderful. There were a lot of little annoying things like that. There were too many issues that kept me from getting swept up in the grandeur of the game.
I never had that problem with Ico. Sure, Ico wasn’t perfect in those regards either, but there wasn’t anything that kept me from just buying into the game world.
In the end, I see this game as being like a movie that’s extremely innovative and a testament to the craft, but isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable thing to watch. Shadow of the Colossus is plenty fun, but temper expectations somewhat before jumping in.