Video Game Review: ‘The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection’ Revives Timeless, Influential Titles

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CHICAGO – Either you’re old enough to have played “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus,” two of the most influential video games of all time, or you’ve surely heard about them over the years that critics have been placing them on higher and higher pedestals. Do they live up the adoration that has been placed at their feet? Find out for yourself with one of the latest HD upgrade collections following in the footsteps of recent packages for “God of War,” “Splinter Cell,” and upcoming ones for “Silent Hill” and “Metal Gear Solid.” One of the current trends seems to be HD upgrades of PS2 hits. This is one of the most essential. Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

But is it one of the most entertaining? I’ll admit to finding “ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus” games that are easier to admire in 2011 than they are to enjoy. We’ve all seen movies that we’re told are crucial to the history of the form that we don’t actually find entertaining. I wouldn’t go that far with these titles but they’re undeniably dated (more so than both of the recent “God of War” collection releases) and I find them games that feel more like a part of history than something you’re going to want to pick up and play on a regular basis. It would be going too far to call them history lessons but they’re most interesting in light of the games they preceded and influenced than they are on their own.

The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection
Photo credit: SCEA

It is remarkable to consider that “ICO” came out ten years ago and while it may look dated, even upgraded in HD, it doesn’t look nearly as much so as most of the titles released in 2001. One of the most notable elements of “ICO” is the emphasis on mood, atmosphere, and location. It’s crystal clear to see how many games have been influenced by this story of a boy lost in a lonely castle. The best fantasy games place their focus on relatable human elements and most people who adore “ICO” point to the storytelling and setting above all else. This was a time when games were still heavily focused on platforming and action. “ICO” tried to create a world with strong environments and an engaging lead character. It has been the foundation of dozens of great RPGs since.

Four years later, “Shadow of the Colossus” would arguably be an even more influential release as the hit game proved that standard structures of RPGs could be shattered by daring developers. When “Shadow” came out, we were used to RPGs that had a strong action foundation. Even the “Zelda” series requires you to unleash Link’s sword quite a bit. “Shadow of the Colossus” was a more peaceful, serene experience about gigantic beasts that roamed the land and required you to find their weakness and topple them to bring your girl back to life. The design of the creatures was stunning and the perspective change was enlightening. In most games, you were the biggest, most important thing in the world. In this one, you were a speck to its gigantic creatures. You were the shadow.

Both games have been included in one affordable collection with trophies, HD upgrades, 7.1 Surround Sound audio tracks (that are arguably the best thing about the new edition), and 3D support. There’s nothing new to the gameplay but the technical polish is impressive enough that these games could feel new to you again. And if you haven’t played them, don’t you kind of feel like you need to in order to understand video game history? Educate yourself.

“The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection” was released by SCEA exclusively for the PS3 on September 27th, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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