on September 27, 2011
It's difficult to believe that over 10 years have passed since Ico was first released, alongside other 2001 classics like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X. Unlike those two games, Ico fared poorly in the sales charts, despite its incredible graphics, great story and gameplay.
However, this was not the end, as 4 years later, the second game by "Team Ico", Shadow of the Colossus (SotC), was strongly promoted and achieved much better sales figures.
Now, Sony has breathed a second life into these games, thanks to this hi-def PS3 re-release.
Both games have been significantly enhanced in this PS3 remastery by Bluepoint Games (who also remastered the God of War Collection and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 games), with the most important changes being:
+ 720p or 1080p @ 30fps framerate, with very little slowdown as found in the PS2 version during intense Colossus battles
+ Native widescreen support for Ico
+ Gameplay is ported from the European version, with the extra puzzle, weapon, and other small changes
+ Trophies! [16 for Ico, 31 for SotC]
+ 7.1 surround sound
+ Behind the scenes videos + 2 dynamic themes (yours to keep!)
+ Reversible cover insert containing original cover art for both games
= 3D support (but only at 720p, and framerate reduces down to 15fps during some of the battles in SotC)
- Textures appear to be more detailed, but they still look blocky close up, and the polygons look the same
- The menu/map in SotC is stretched on a widescreen TV, while the menu for Ico looks sharp and completely redone
I have already beaten Ico and the first few battles of SotC on PS2, and am finding this remake just as enjoyable, especially since there is virtually no slowdown even at 1080p. Do realize that both of these games are relatively short with limited replay value (<5 hours for Ico and <10 hours for SotC, much more if you want all of the trophies). The high production values of both games is maintained during their short stories, and you will likely spend several hours just looking at the beautiful environments in both games (especially Ico). The orchestrated music during each battle in SotC is terrific and fitting, as are the ambient sounds throughout both games. The controls are very simple, but some of the puzzles/colossus battles are incredibly challenging the first time around.
An in depth comparison of the various graphical settings can be found at eurogamer.net [...]
For the $40 MSRP, you are still getting a good bargain, even if the games have been out for 6-10 years, as the visual experience is so much better on an HDTV (if you don't have an HDTV, get one).
Now go out and save a "princess"!
on June 19, 2013
Every once in a while, a game comes along that is more than a game. It goes beyond the preconceived notions that we have about what a video game should look like, feel like and sound like. These gems are far more than just video games, they are experiences in and of themselves. While these treasures are rare to find, with this collection, you have two such games displayed in glorious HD for your Playstation 3 console on one convenient disc.
Ico was my first stop on this disc, and what an experience it is. Ico puts you in the shoes of a little boy who has been cast out and sent to a dark, desolate castle to die simply because he has horns. After breaking free from his prison, Ico begins to wander the dark castle and discovers a majestic looking girl named Yorda locked inside of a cage. He frees her, and the story begins.
Ico essentially functions as one large escort mission- something that would turn most gamers off. Make no mistake, however, this is one escort that you will remember for a lifetime. While guiding Yorda through the castle, you will encounter puzzles, platforming sequences and enemies. What makes Ico unique, however, is that the only enemies you will find throughout the main game are shadow creatures. These shadow creatures have been sent to drag Yorda into their shadow portals at all costs and it is your job to ensure that she does not get whisked away, lest you face a game over.
There are many aspects of Ico that challenge the preconceived ideologies we think a video game should have. But perhaps the biggest one is that the only way to view a game over screen, is to have Yorda be taken away by shadow creatures, or falling from a cliff. This ensures that no matter what, you will always have an eye on Yorda- and that is exactly what the developers had in mind.
The puzzles in Ico aren't terribly challenging, but they aren't cakewalks either. Prepare to spend some time pushing blocks around and swinging from ropes before you finally see the correct method of advancing. As you solve puzzles in a way that allows Ico to progress, you must also ensure that Yorda never strays too far behind and that she will be able to advance with you. Taking her by the hand, you lead her through the puzzles and dazzling locales.
When shadow creatures attack, prepare for an adrenaline rush. They come from all angles, swooping in, swinging at Ico and making every attempt to drag Yorda off. It is these fight sequences that offer the most intense and well crafted parts of the game. If Yorda begins to get dragged off, your eyes immediately go to the shadow creature as you begin an all-out sprint to ensure she isn't dragged into a shadow pit.
The environments and music of Ico are truly dazzling. The environments look fabulous on the PS3, displaying beautiful skies, desolate looking castle textures and rough looking waters well below the castle's confines. The music is gorgeous in its simplicity. Don't go into this game expecting a Danny Elfman arrangement. What music there is plays subtly and this allows for you to hear the interactions between Yorda and Ico as well as the occasional sound of a gull flying overhead or a wave crashing down below the castle.
As you make your way through the game, you will feel more like you are experiencing a divine vision. No part of Ico feels forced upon the gamer, or like a chore. Give Ico a couple of hours. For some, it takes time to get used to because it is unlike anything you have ever played. Allow yourself to get a couple of hours in, even if you become frustrated. You will thank yourself that you did.
Ico ends beautifully and heroically and will leave you questioning just how far companionship manifests itself in your own life. The emotional attachment that the developers have you experiencing with Yorda is absolutely unparalleled and makes this truly a must play for anyone who considers themselves a gamer.
Ico isn't quite perfect, however. Some minor things weigh it down, including a camera that can be downright frustrating. The camera is rather passive in terms of how much control you have over it, so often times you will be unable to see what lies ahead of you as you run down a castle path. Other times, the camera will be positioned in such a way that you can't see a particular jump. This caused me to fall to my death or lose Yorda more than a few times throughout the game. This hiccup is easily overlooked in the grand scheme of this piece of art, however.
Many will also criticize Ico for being too short, but I do believe this is how the developers imagined it. Ico will take most gamers around five hours on average. My play time ended up being about six and a half because of the time I spent appreciating the environments. For some players, you may finish in less than five hours, and this is fine. The length of this game should by no means deter you from experiencing it. Play it all the way through and don't worry about a total play time.
In the grand scheme of things, art is made to be appreciated, regardless of how long it takes you to appreciate it, and draw meaning from it. Ico functions in a similar way. Whether you are advanced enough to blaze through in three hours, or so slow that it takes you eight, you will be touched by a rare gem of a game that delivers an experience very unlike any other you have had before.
For the incredible price that this game now goes for, Ico would easily be worth the price of admission alone.
However, with this amazing bundle, you get a second incredible experience on the same disc.
Enter Shadow of the Colossus. A title that the Ico team began work on after the production of Ico but before its release.
Initially code-named "Nico", Shadow of the Colossus tells the tale of a wandering warrior atop a faithful steed who is willing to do anything to bring the one he loves back from the dead.
At the end of his rope, the wanderer seeks the help of the gods of a distant temple to revive his love. In order for the magic to work, he and his steed Agro must traverse the world and kill 16 colossi who are represented by statues inside of the temple. When the colossi fall, so too do their statue representations.
The wanderer begins a journey that is quite different from Ico in content, but just as emotionally and artistically powerful.
Shadow of the Colossus, like its predecessor, is unlike any other game you have ever played. The game features no enemies except for the 16 colossi you are hunting.
As you ride around the open world on your steed, you will constantly be waiting to be attacked by a random enemy, but it never happens.
In this sense, traveling to the various locations of the colossi is a lot like mentally preparing yourself for an experience. It gives you a chance to think while you continue your journey. When you finally do arrive, the colossi will absolutely take your breath away.
The colossi are likely bigger and more mysterious than any other video game boss you have come in contact with previously. They do more than fill the screen, and you get the sense that they could crush you with one blow.
The process of taking down a colossi involves finding a way to climb onto it and scaling its body until you find a weak point that glows blue. Stabbing this weak point with your sword will drain the health of the colossus, and eventually bring it down.
While its fairly easy to figure out how to climb a colossi, by jumping on a certain part of it or waiting for it to move a certain way, others are a little more difficult and a few notable ones are downright frustrating.
Making the colossi vulnerable can involve your bow, environmental elements and more.
No matter how frustrated you get at some of the colossi, bear down and make yourself pull through. When you finally see the giant topple to the ground, you will want to keep going.
Those who persevere to the end of the this roughly eight hour experience are treated to another beautiful ending.
The real strength of SOC lies in the epic feeling of the colossi battle. The notion that one man is capable of bringing down a beast hundreds of feet tall for the sake of love is something every gamer should experience.
Like Ico, SOC camera can be frustrating at times, too. Sometimes your camera will get stuck inside of a colossi body, or fail to shift fast enough before you get smashed, but like the previous game, it can easily be overlooked.
The music in SOC is atmospheric and beautiful and the visuals create dazzling landscapes and marvelously haunting looking colossi.
When it is all said and done, these two games are must plays for gamers everywhere, and with this fantastic price tag and beautiful graphical overhaul, there has never been a better time to experience them together than now.
Along with the games, the collection comes with two dynamic themes for your PS3 dashboard, as well as insider trailers and interviews with the developers, which are entertaining and worth a look if you really enjoyed the games.
If you haven't experienced these games before, as was the case for me, don't think, just buy these right now and dive right in.
If you have played them before and wish to experience them again, the price is right and graphics are gorgeous.
Every once in a while we gamers need an escape from the Call of Duty clones and the Halo multiplayer.
We need to do more than just race a luxury car or beat up a bad guy.
Every once in a while we need something to remind us why we play games.
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus remind us why we play, and why emotion is the most beautiful human trait.
Gamers of all ages and backgrounds owe it to themselves to allow these two sheer pieces of art to tug at their heart strings and breathe youthful life into their hearts, minds and gaming console.
on September 28, 2011
Regardless of whether you had played ICO or Shadow of the Colossus when they had came out or not, are a game aficionado or a casual player, you owe it to yourself to have these rereleased titles. There are very few people who would claim that these two games are "overrated", as there is much to appreciate, discover, and enjoy in both. These are two timeless, beautiful classics made better. They are very hard to fault.
I won't go into any detail on the content of these two games, as they are best left to player discovery for those playing for the first time. I will say that as adventure games, they fulfill their role and unlike many games these days, does not force unnecessary exposition and plotlines down your throat. They are very minimalist and like a well told story, leave it up to your imagination to fill in some of the blanks.
For the most part, I generally regard older games re-released in HD to be overpriced money grabs by gaming publishers, but every so often, the publishers will do it right. Shadow of the Colossus, in particular, stands out in that it presents the game in the way it was meant to be played. The framerates are much smoother than the original PS2 release, and the atmosphere and presence of the Colossi carries much more impact, as the suspension of disbelief is not interrupted by the aliasing (jagged lines) that plagued the originals.
on September 27, 2011
I was very excited to hear about this release. I was concerned, however, that 1080p simply meant the output signal. But this is not the case. The polygons haven't changed, but the textures were redone at a higher resolution. This makes the characters somewhat blocky, but the incredible detail of the texture makes it worth it. The scenery is even more breathtaking than before.
Ico is much more immersive than the ps2 version. Ico is a puzzle built around spacious architecture. At a higher res, the illusion of depth in these spacious buildings is stronger.
Shadow of the Colossus naturally has more polygons, so the added high-definition makes you feel like you are playing a game made for the ps3.
This game collection is a keeper for me.
on March 14, 2012
These games have received an HD update and trophy support, but almost nothing else about them has been changed. Many gamers will love this fact. Newcomers, however, may find it less than ideal; as controlling is not streamlined by modern standards do not occur as often as today's gamers have grown used to.
One undeniable thing about both games are the allure of their presentation. The ideas and the stories are unique and endearing. You will find yourself sucked into the atmosphere of both, and each will be difficult to forget for its own reasons. Much like Okami, these games are risk-takers on top of being beyond exquisitely artful in their delivery. You can normally tell these are last gen releases, even with the HD update; but that doesn't take away from their power to make an impact on the player's appreciation for just how beautifully imagined they both are.
My main complaint with the collection itself has to deal with controlling. The controls are not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. They just aren't splendid either. ICO's battles are fraught with dumb AI; so the wonky controls are almost forgivable. But Shadow is so heavily dependent on the success of controlling that it's hard to overlook. The best things to keep in mind about Shadow are that inverting camera controls will make things feel more natural, and to realize that you have a stamina meter of sorts which tells you how long you can continue holding on to an enemy. Fix your camera settings, remember to let go of your enemies whenever possible, and the game will progress much smoother.
Regardless of how negative some of this may seem, I still think this is one of the best values to be had on the PS3; even when purchasing new for forty dollars. You get two epic and unforgettable games, which are probably unlike anything else you've played. Familiar control issues and sparse save points dropped the score for this reviewer, but you should still plan on owning this collection; look forward to it even. Because it carries a definite "wow" factor, despite its shortcomings. Buy now.
on October 27, 2011
In short: I'm glad I finally picked these 2 up.
Despite hearing about these games for years, I'd never tried them. I didn't have a PS2 during their heyday (I was an XBox kid), and heard about them much later, spoken of by others with reverence. I'd always meant to pick them up, (I now have a backward-compatible PS3), never got around to it, but now that this HD version is out, I guess it's ok that I waited.
A brilliant platforming game. Having played the God of War games before ICO, it's plainly obvious to me now where many of those games' platforming elements came from. The animations are very fluid and realistic. Meaning characters sometimes jerk suddenly or stumble as real people would when trying to make certain movements. As opposed to most games where characters just sort of float. It's very cool, kind of reminds me of the original Prince of Persia. The thing that's really striking about this game though is how little is actually explained to you. There is NO HUD whatsoever, at any time. There's no tutorial to explain buttons. I didn't know I could perform one action until halfway through the game, when I needed to do it. And having to bring your companion along is immensely rewarding. You really get attached to her.
Shadow of the Colossus:
I am not all the way through yet. But it is every bit as good as ICO, though it is different in many ways. The animation style is the same - much more like actual human movements than video game characters. The Colossi are HUGE, and immensely challenging to climb. Especially at first when you have no clue how they work. Unlike ICO there is some help available. If you haven't progressed in a Colossus fight for a while, a voice from the heavens will offer a hint. It's usually just something small though, to maybe point out something you missed. There is typically still a lot of work for you to do even after this hint. As I understand it, the 16 Colossi are the ONLY enemies in the entire game. So you can imagine how challenging each of them are, and how long they can take to fight. But it is AWESOME doing so. The last one I fought was the coolest so far - and this has been the case with each one. They just keep getting better.
This is just my feelings on these games. If you want more info on how they play, and the content, etc., look them up on a gaming reviews site I guess.
on December 19, 2013
Remember back when "Artisic" games involved actual gameplay and not running around a space looking at pretty things?
These two are undying relics of that age.
Ico, more of a puzzle game than a action game, has you literally holding the hand of a blind girl, trying to lead her out of a castle complete with traps, and shadow creatures trying to take her back. If you leave her alone for too long or she's captured, she's wisked back to her cage where you have to start all over again. Your weapon against these shadow creatures? A wooden sword. Puzzles involve both characters sometimes, and are more than often timed, with the setting as a beautifully dark yet crumbling castle.
Shadow of the Colossus is another beautiful game, whose settings are wide expanses of plains, but the plains are the actual setting. The monsters themselves, each Colossus stands more than ten stories, and are a setting within themselves. Playing as a young man trying to wake his beloved from a coma, you're tasked to climb these huge demigod sized beasts, ranging from walking up right, to on all fours, to swimming, and even flying, and attack their weakpoints. It's a platforming game meets rodeo, where you have to hang on to dear life as you climb, the colossuses trying to shake you off the entire time.
Both games came at the beginning and the end of the PS2's lifespan respectfively, however, each game is beautifully designed, with backdrops that will just make you gasp. Cleaned up with extra features on the PS3, both games are must haves for real gamers. Both offer different sorts of challenges than normally seen in current video games, and the feeling of taking down a HUGE monster colossus is reward in itself. The difficulty of both games does ramp up. with Ico and SotC needing a logical eye to sort out some of the tougher parts.
These games are well worth more than $20 in quality, and a must have for anyone's library.
on September 19, 2012
I played these two games when they first came out and still have them. In fact, I still play Shadow on my PS2 from time to time. But now the HD remake is here and the graphics have been given a great deal of polish, making both games look amazing. Don't be fooled though, even with the HD upgrade, the games do show signs of age.
Out of the two, Shadow is probably my favourite and the one I've been recently playing through remote play on my PS Vita. To use remote play, you must first update your Vita and then the game itself. The quality of the game and frames will depend on your network and the signal from both your PS3 and PS Vita.
Both games share a key feature. They both have an ominous feel to it that will keep you glued to the controller. The background sounds are creepy and quiet, not really sure how to explain it, but it gives the games a unique feeling.
If there's something I could complaint about, would be ICO's controls, that at times can be frustrating, the feeling is gone after a few minutes of trial and error. Players new to the series may have mixed feelings, because at heart, this is a PS2 game. Fans of the series will pleased to see the great games looking better than ever, but most importantly, to see that the games have not been altered in any way that would ruin the great original experience.
on November 8, 2011
I played both of these titles years ago on PS2 and enjoyed them immensely. Both have a sort of austere beauty and convey a sense of loneliness that feels more like an excellent film than a video game. I still have the original PS2 discs and compared the new PS3 games to them on my console with PS2 upsampling turned on and set to "full". There's absolutely no comparison - both games, PS3 native of upsampled PS2 show as 1080p on my Samsung LED tv, but the graphics are worlds apart. The old versions look good in the higher resolution, but it's immediately obvious that they took quite a bit of time remaking large parts of the games with current graphic technology and they clearly did some clever programming to make both titles look like standard PS3 games running at 60fps. If the case didn't mention that they're remade ps2 titles and you haven't played them in their original format you'd never know that they aren't new games made for the PS3.
They've also gone to great lengths to preserve the original flow of gameplay and controls, while fixing the little issues with the old controls and smoothing out the few rough edges the original titles had.
To put things simply, if you've played these and loved them on PS2 and own a PS3, they're 100% worth the purchase. If you've never played them before and own a PS3, they're an even better value. They could have released these at $30-$40 each as single titles, but made them an amazing bargain at $40 for the pair. They're worth every penny - if reviews matter to you, you can check out the old PS2 reviews on your gaming site of choice and learn what the games are about and how they play, then read the PS3 version reviews to see the graphical updates and read about the feature changes and extras. If you enjoy adventure games at all, these are a no-brainer purchase.
on July 29, 2015
Having played the originals on the PS2, I can understand why some would ask, why get this, its just and upscale in graphics right? Sure enough however, I feel that this game has defined an entire genre of games, and has so much replay-ability. Considering the Last Guardian is soon to come out in the future, its a great time to play these games to understand some of the world and universe that these games take place. Be sure to play it in the Order of Shadow of the Colossus and then ICO, while they were released in different orders, the developers have confirmed that the stories take place in that order. Personally, I would recommend that even if you have played the older version, pick this one up for your collection.