Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

Game review: Shadow of the Colossus

Platform: Sony Playstation 2

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Synopsis
You are a young warrior named Wander and you must slay very irritable creatures many, many, many times your size in order to resurrect Mono, your love. It turns out that you were appropriately named because you must travel great distances, across fields, deserts and forests, through mountains and caves, even swimming lakes, to find the colossi you are to slay. And you have exactly one horse, one sword and one bow (with arrows). Oh, and did I mention how big the colossi are? See the dude in the picture – you could stand on his eyebrows and he would hardly notice.

Gameplay
Yes, I know, this game is from 2005. Ancient. Almost Space Invaders old. But video games are not really my thing – except for Guitar Hero – so I play very few of them very rarely. But I absolutely love this game.

Shadow of the Colossus had me the very first time I stood in the shadow of one of these monsters. I actually felt shocked, saying “oh my effing god” out loud. It seemed almost comical that my tiny little avatar is supposed to fight them, never mind kill them. But with enough perseverance and skill – and tips found online – it can most definitely be done. I’m about 4 hours in and have brought 9 of these mothers down and I’m not a gamer, so there is hope for you, tiny dancer.

The beauty of this game is its simplicity. There are no villages to explore, no other characters to talk to. There’s no treasure to find or hidden passages. And if you take a wrong step off that cliff, your done. Or, if you just want to sit under the shade of that tree, go ahead and eat up the electricity, cause nothing’s going to happen. You have one goal – find the colossus’ weakness and begin the long battle of smiting it.

It’s these battles, however, where Shadow of the Colossus isn’t quite 5 out of 5. They can be exhilarating and a bit of a mind game trying to find and exploit the colossus’ weakness, but they can also be formulaic and a bit tedious when you realize the key is to do the same set of actions – like shoot an arrow into it’s eye, climb on it’s back, stabby stabby, fall off – over and over until it’s dead.

But that is really a small criticism in the face of this game’s massive, massive playability and fun. Though a tiny gamer I may be, I will eventually climb on it’s huge, hairy back and… you get the idea.

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Game review: Okami

Platform: Sony Playstation 2

Okami

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Synopsis
You are Ameratsu, ancient Japanese goddess, returned to earth in the body of a white wolf. While you were gone, evil spread across the land, blackening the forests and skies and spreading fear into the hearts of the villagers. Your job is to defeat evil spirits and restore life and colour to the world.

Gameplay
Okami is a joy to play and to watch. The world is one big beautiful ink painting, and though fluid and fully 3D, is wonderfully flat and animated. The tasks are relatively easy to figure out and the game holds your hand through most of them. Sadly, this is my biggest problem with Okami: it assumes you’re a bit of a dolt. I found myself repeatedly saying “yes, yes, I get it” while my little sidekick – some sort of magical sprite I wish the wolf would just clamp her jaws around – goes on and on explaining the obvious.

But other than that annoyance, Okami just makes you feel good as you restore the sun to the sky and make trees bloom. The way you do this is one of the best features of the game: the Celestial Brush. This tool “flattens” the game, turning the entire scene into a drawing which you paint on with a huge Japanese ink brush. The resulting brush work shimmers to life and either slices an enemy, rebuilds a watermill, or does other awesome things. Hell, this game is so enchanted, just running around leaves clusters of flowers in your wake.

Not the most challenging game around, but it will easily refute those naysayers out there who paint all video games with the same… well, you know.