If you are roughly the same age as me & played video games, then the chances are you will have owned a PS2. If you did, then you may or may not have played the Team ICO classic Shadow of The Colossus. I came across the game quite late in the PS2's life-cycle, I think I picked it up maybe a couple of weeks before I upgraded to a PS3 on launch day - hence I never got round to finishing it. I felt really bad about not finishing the game because it was such a celebrated title, and what I did play of it was fantastic.
Luckily though, Bluepoint Games have fully remastered this classic for PS4 in glorious HD & following the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I decided to pick this up & finally play through it in full. Check out the launch trailer below:
Shadow of The Colossus tells the story of a character called Wander who enters a forbidden land in search of a cure to bring his girlfriend, Mono, back to life. In order to restore her life, he makes a deal to defeat 16 beings known as Colossi that are spread throughout the land. And with that, you are set on your way - with nothing but your horse (Agro), a sword (which acts are your compass) & a bow.
The gameplay starts from a central point - the temple where you begin your quest, and from here you must make your way across the sprawling, barren, but beautiful landscape in search of the Colossi. This is where the game really differs from other titles; there is no levels, towns or dungeon that you need to explore & there is no enemies other than the Colossi. Using your sword to guide the way (you hold it in the air and it shines a light in the direction of the Colossi), you make your way across the landscape, often traversing bridges & obstacles that will lead to a remote location where you discover the giant Colossi.
The Colossi battles each serve as a cross between a traditional boss battle & a puzzle, usually requiring the player to figure out the giants weak-spots, and how to get to them. This would typically involve finding a way to scale the beast to reach these glowing weak spots & whilst they start relatively simple, as the game progresses they do become quite challenging! The battles are incredible, and offer some of the most rewarding moments I've ever experienced in gaming & the soundtrack that kicks in when you finally get on a Colossi is such a memorable track.
With being a re-master there is a few drawbacks; the controls can be slightly shonky (although not as bad as the original) and they do take some getting used to - the amount of times I forgot to hold R2 whilst climbing & fell to my death was unbelievable. The camera can be a nightmare at times, but it's something that you just get used to eventually.
Visually, the game is spectacular & offers some absolutely breathtaking scenery. Whilst not as vast & certainly not as populated, it reminded me somewhat of last years Game of The Year - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. It offers for some fantastic moments to use the in game photo mode - a feature that now seems to be standard for most Sony 1st party releases. Check out some of my screenshots below:
Overall, I'm delighted that I decided to finally play through this game. It is a true classic, and one that I feel all gamers owe it to themselves to play. It was such a thrilling experience from start to finish - and such a nostalgia rush to when I first played it back in 2006. I wonder if similar will be done to Team ICO's first outing, ICO as I never played that game at all & also it has given me appetite to play their game that spent years in development hell - The Last Guardian. You can pick this game up for less than £20 now & for the satisfaction I took from it, I certainly feel it is money well spent.
You won't play many games like Shadow of The Colossus & it gets 4.5 out of 5 from me.
Goin' Down To South PArk
One day over the Christmas break when I found myself with some time to kill, I booted up my PS4, went on to the PlayStation Store & had a browse. I ended up downloading the 1 hour free trial of South Park: The Fractured but Whole. Fast forward a couple of hours later & I had just bought a second hand copy on eBay. It impressed me that much.
The Fractured but Whole is the squeal to 2014's critically acclaimed South Park: The Stick of Truth. Check out the trailer below:
The Fractured but Whole is an RPG that riffs off the superhero themed episodes of the TV show such as The Coon, Mysterion Rises & Professor Chaos. It sees you take control of "The New Kid" (who you create) & quickly find yourself a member of "Coon & Friends" one of the games two superhero factions, the other being "Freedom Pals". It's a wacky take on the whole "Marvel vs DC" fanboy culture that takes over social media so much these days.
The plot sees Cartman (aka The Coon) task his team of superheros to find a missing cat in order to claim a $100 reward that he will use to create his own version of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), that includes movies with multiple sequels & Netflix shows - it's utterly bonkers!
The game is broken up into chapters that are separated by you re-living your origin story where you acquire new superhero powers each time. Within each of these chapters you will split your time between side quests & main missions. The main missions will usually end in a "dungeon" like area; a strip club, Italian restaurant, police station & a genetics lab to name a few. These areas usually require you to gain a new special ability that will help you progress through towards the boss fight at the end of each area. The side quests are usually trivial fetch & retrieve quests for the colourful characters of South Park but there are a few that will grant you rewards that will make your game-play experience easier. The RPG mechanics them self are simply; turn based combat that is set on a grid system, usually involving you and 3 other members of your team. There is also a basic crafting system where you can craft new costumes, consumables & upgrade items.
The town of South Park itself has been painstakingly re-created to the point it feels like you're watching a 15 hour long episode of the show. Navigating the town itself, along with the fantastic voice work - it is such an authentic re-creation that you often forget your playing a game. It is populated with so many of the shows familiar faces & even though I haven't really watched South Park in a while, there was still so many references that I was able to relate to. Word of warning...do not play this game if you are easily offended!
South Park: The Fractured but Whole was a pure joy to play from start to finish & packed with non-stop laughs. I don't tend to play many RPGs's but the simplistic game play made it extremely refreshing & accessible. I sank 15+ hours into my play-through and not once did it feel like it was dragging.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole gets 4.5 out of 5 from me. Now, it's time to go back & check out The Stick of Truth.
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