Monday, January 28, 2008

Shadow of the Colossus, Part 1

After a lot of creative rearranging, replugging, and tidying up, I got my entertainment setup all arranged with the shiny new PS2 and the Gamecube I got for free a while back. Everything seems to be mostly working, but my TV is out of inputs, so I can only have the Gamecube or PS2 plugged in at a time, not both. I definitely want a new TV.

I was housesitting my parents' house this past weekend, so when I bought the PS2 I was down in St. Mary's County. I hooked it up to their TV to make sure it worked. I also tried playing Shadow of the Colossus for a few minutes. It actually didn't work at first. Insanely long load times, graphical glitches, and lock ups greeted me when I tried to play. But after looking at the disc and wiping off the strange goop I found, it seems to be working perfectly so far. Serves me right for buying the game use.

I've heard a lot about this game, almost all of it good, so I was anxious to see how it goes. When the game loads a cutscene plays showing the main character riding his horse through a treacherous cliffside path and approaching an incredibly long bridge while a rather haunting but beautiful musical score accompanies it. After loading a new game, the cutscene continued and my character wound his way into a sort of temple. He got off his horse, and then picked up something from it that I hadn't noticed at first. I realized it was the body of a woman. He carried her to what looked like an altar then cried out for the attention of some god or mythical being. The god, whose name I can't remember, answered and basically asked what this guy wanted. The hero answered that he wants the woman's soul returned to her. I guessed that meant she was dead, and that this hero was in love with her. The god said that it was impossible for mortals, but since the hero happens to be carrying a special sword, it might be possible for him. All he has to do is destroy the colossi roaming the land. There is a statue in the temple for each one. The hero agrees to do so, but the deity warns that there will be a price to pay. The hero says it doesn't matter and goes on his way.

At this point I'm guessing that this quest isn't going to end well. The god speaking to the hero has a rather creepy sounding voice. The way he spoke about the colossi seemed vaguely sinister and he seemed to be using the hero to serve his own ends. It's just a feeling I have, and we'll see how it turns out. Perhaps the deity is one of the colossi, and is seeking to destroy the others for his own ends? We'll find out, I guess.

After the cutscene ended, I was given control of the main character. Right away, I hit a snag. The direction the camera moves is, by default, inverted from the direction it moves by default on the 360. Pushing up on the analog stick made the camera go down, instead of up like I'm used to. I was able to change this in the options, however. The controller itself took a bit to get used to. It's significantly smaller than the 360's controller, and I felt like my hands were too close together. By the end of my time, however, I was more accustomed to it.

After a tutorial that felt rushed, I found myself facing my first colossus. It was a hulking beast with hooves almost twice my height and it wielded a massive club. It was pretty magnificent to behold from a distance. It shook the ground as it walked and created gigantic cracked footprints int he earth. As I ran towards it I realized just how huge this thing was. Unfortunately, I found myself starting to wrestle with the controls. The control scheme is different from any other game I've played before, so I had a hard time remembering how to jump, climb, and grab on to things. The main portion of the game seems to be climbing these giants and attacking their weak spots until their dead. I basically got trampled to death a few times because I couldn't figure out how to climb up the beast's body. After several tries I started to get the hang of it. There's a meter that shows how strong my grip on the beast is, which helped my realize when I was about to get shaken off. I also found a few platforms on the beasts back which I was able to climb onto to get my bearings.

Climbing this thing was pretty exhilarating once I figured out the controls. I found its first weak spot on its leg and slashed away at it with my sword, and after that was able to climb higher. In some ways it seemed like a giant, furry, walking building. It had hair that I could use to climb, but it also had the aforementioned platforms to use, along with what almost looked like carved stone. It's final weak spot was directly on top of its head. I climbed its fur all the way up and started attacking it. It actually managed to shake me loose and I fell all the way to the ground again. I thought I was dead but I somehow survived. I climbed back up and dealt the final few blows, bringing it crashing to the ground. A mournful piece of music began playing, and I actually felt a little bad about killing this thing. It hadn't done anything to me, I just ran up to it and started slashing away at it. I've heard of people saying they didn't finish this game because they couldn't bring themselves to kill the remaining colossi. I can already understand why.

The whole tone of the game so far is mournful and subdued. The hero is obviously grief stricken from this gir's death, and he's traveled far to get to the temple. The music is sad and mournful. The color scheme so far is washed out browns, yellows, and some greens. It's not a cheery landscape to ride across.

So that was my first hour or so with Shadow of the Colossus. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to play more. I'm not sure how many colossi I have to kill. Maybe eight to ten in all. I know I've read the number somewhere, but the exact number escapes me at the moment. Here's hoping it's a fun quest.

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