Sony's post-E3 press conference event was so loud and crowded that it seemed larger than life. But it had nothing on the colossi at the heart of Shadow of the Colossus, one of two HD rereleases contained in the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. If you are a fan of either of those two games, you are surely excited about the sooner-than-expected September 27 release date. Also exciting is the fact that not only will the package be presented in high definition, but it also supports 3D for those with the necessary television and peripherals. But as we learned from our short time with Shadow of the Colossus, you won't need fancy glasses to appreciate just how good this game still looks and just how well the jaw-droppingly enormous giants you face fill the screen.
Shadow of the Colossus looks excellent in HD. Blurry textures and other quirks serve as reminders that this is an older game, but great art is timeless, and it shone through beautifully in the demo we played. As the young protagonist Wander, we sauntered about the land on our horse Agro, drinking in the view. Across the valley, we saw looming spires reaching for the heavens while a stone bridge spanned above. Although the original game famously suffered from frame rate problems, this remix performed beautifully. We were thus able to admire every visual element we ogled. Wander's animations still have that charming awkwardness; he occasionally stumbles as he climbs and runs, and he doesn't always display grace when mounting or dismounting Agro. This mild and intentional clumsiness is an important factor because it makes Wander seem vulnerable.
That vulnerability is important because it emphasizes how intimidating the colossi are in the game. The demo featured the second colossus, a giant four-hoofed creature that emerges from the cliffside. To bring these bad boys down, you must climb them to reach their most sensitive spots; the colossi are living, breathing collections of organic platforms. To first bring this colossus down, you first fire your arrow into the bottom of one of its sensitive hoofs. When the colossus stumbles, you make your way up its limb and grasp onto its matted hair. And so the climb begins with Wander clinging for dear life as the mighty beast tries to shake him off. The colossi aren't the only impressive aspects of this HD overhaul. As in the original, you hold your sword aloft to produce a brilliant light that guides you to your destination. This ingenious idea takes a traditional game mechanic (waypoint location) and makes it an organic part of the experience rather than an interface element.
But then again, Shadow of the Colossus is not your average game. If you didn't play it on the PlayStation 2, this is your chance to get lost in a true classic. Fans of the original release should note that the rerelease uses the European version of the game, rather than the North American release, and thus comes with an ending you may not have experienced for yourself. But whether you are a newcomer or not, you only have a few months to wait before you can give these humongous entities a home.