Most real-time adventure games have an abundance of similarities and constants, not always in the way of plot but certainly in the facets of everyday adventuring. Usually you’ll visit towns, talk to various villagers and engage in side missions on the main quest. Along the way you most likely will be killing monsters for gold or rupees, upgrading your vast arsenal and generally creating a more powerful character capable of defeating some ultimate evil. Shadow of the Colossus, for the PS2 console, has none of this shit. And guess what... it doesn’t need it.
Quite possibly the second best game released in 2005 (RE4 natch), Shadow of the Colossus is not made for the ADHD set. It’s a one-track quest where your character ends the way he starts. You have a horse (Argo rules!!), a sword, a bow with unlimited arrows and a health meter that only regenerates with time. No potions allowed. A few scant birds are the only normal “life forms” you’ll see as you gallop through beautiful landscapes littered with the ruins of a bygone era. The special lady in your life has been killed so you bring her to some crazy temple to have her resurrected. The wacky faceless/bodiless talking light that lives there tells you it can be done but you first must rid the land of the 16 Colossi that inhabit it. After the challenge is issued, you start riding your faithful steed while using an enchanted sword as a compass to direct you to each subsequent Colossus. To say these guys dwarf you on screen is an understatement. Each not-so-jolly giant is actually a massive moving puzzle that will attack you while you creatively use your surroundings and wits to topple him. This is easily the smartest, most original title I’ve played in years and already has me chanting, “Sequel! Sequel!”
Best Feature: The Colossi are so extraordinary I let myself “die” just to watch the cut-scenes replay and get a second look.
Worst Feature: The compass sword can be less than reliable sending you on some lo-ooong horse rides. Also, you can beat the game in under 10 hours if you have no life.
Weirdest Feature: Slaying the majestic Colossi almost feels criminal. They’re not bothering anyone and this genocide seems awfully suspicious. I’m waiting for a nice plot twist after I finish with #16.