The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The Guildhall at SMU

Review: “Shadow of the Colossus”

There are few games that I look forward to with great anticipation, and they are usually sequels – “Doom 3,” “HalfLife 2,” “Halo 2,” “Wip3out,” to name a few.

I don’t often feel the pangs of wanting to play a game purely on the hype and a few released screenshots, but ever since I saw a teaser video about “Shadow of the Colossus” (Sony Japan, release date: Oct. 18, 2005), my mouth has been watering. The game promised so much that I began to fear it wouldn’t live up to the hype. For once, my fears were unfounded. For a 1-Colossus demo disc, this game is truly amazing.

What is it?

“Shadow of the Colossus” is almost completely different from any other game I’ve ever played. Similar to “Ico,” which was released some time ago, you have a single task – defeat the Colossi inhabiting the world. True, it does sound like a “defeat the bad guy” game, but fear not – when you fire up the game it’s immediately apparent that “Shadow” is different.

You wake up in a temple. You have no knowledge of how you got there or what to do. You see a young woman laying unconscious on a nearby altar and realize that your purpose is to revive her somehow, even though nothing indicates this. Through on-screen instructions, you are told that holding your sword up will bounce light in the direction of the nearest Colossus. Tentatively I held my sword high, and indeed, a strong beam pointed me to my destiny.

I set off on my journey.


WOW. This game is simply amazing to look at. There is a true sense of scale of your size to the surroundings. Sony claims that this game has no load times and that you can run from one side of the playable world to the other without any pauses or hiccups. I took this claim with a grain of salt. because I’ve heard it before – but it’s true. The size of the world and the surroundings is daunting, and it took me a few minutes to adjust – truth be told, I stood at the altar and gazed around for a good 10 minutes before continuing.

Since the world is so large and you have but a single task, you might think that it’ll be boring going from Colossus to Colossus. Sony Japan has ensured that your journey through the game will be not only exciting but entrancing. There is so much to see, so many little nooks and crannies to visit, that you may spend more time exploring the world than actually defeating the colossi. Just like at the altar, I stood on a clifftop and gazed out at the landscape for quite a while.

True to their name, the Colossi are just that – gigantic. The first Colossus encountered was a Minotaur. As it walked past me (I was cowering behind a rock), my head didn’t reach to the top of his foot. How on earth was I going to defeat him? The Colossi designs are fairly simple, but it is their imposing size that creates their imposing atmosphere.


Travel around the world is greatly eased by the horse you are given to ride. Your trusty steed follows you when you are walking on foot, although it has a tendency to wander off and start eating grass. However, a quick press of the X button calls it back to your side. Sony Japan has added a nice feeling of speed when the you are riding: The world blurs a little when you look to the side. That is just one of the many little touches that add to the excellent design.

I seem to have a thread running through my console game reviews, and it’s about the control scheme. There were more than a few frustrating moments trying to maneuver both myself and my horse around the world – made worse by the fact that inverting camera direction buttons didn’t actually change anything.

There are very few controls in the game: “jump,” “grip” (hang from things), “stab,” “call the horse” and “find colossus.” It takes a few minutes of practice to have these down, and grip is the hardest. The control seems just a little too wooly for my liking and made camera control extremely difficult (but this is a demo, after all).

Finally, there are the actual battles, facing off against a Colossus the size of the Empire State Building. Holding your sword up to the light and moving around each Colossus reveals weak spots. Once you find a weak spot, you have to approach the Colossus (a daunting task) and climb up. Once at its weak spot, you stab it repeatedly until the Colossus reacts in some way. Trouble is, they don’t like you doing this; they shake, run and shift violently, trying to make you lose your grip and tumble to the ground.

There are several weak spots on each Colossus, and moving between them is intense, challenging work. It requires real dexterity and timing to bring one of these monsters down. But once I defeated one, there was a true sense of achievement that I’ve never felt before in any game. It was absolutely incredible.


I was completely stunned by this game, first by the graphics and then by the gameplay. It is truly different experience – perhaps not one that I would recommend to all my friends, but only to those who expect more from their game time than shooting and subterfuge.

The Guildhall at SMU is an intense 21-month graduate program in digital game development. The Guildhall offers a Masters of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree or a professional certificate. The curriculum was designed by expert teachers working with leaders in the gaming industry to provide students with a solid foundation in game development. Visit

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