Ico – Page 1

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection HD

Shadows and fog.

By Christian Donlan Published 08/09/2011 Version tested PlayStation three

If Ico and Shadow and the Colossus were novels, they’d be getting the Penguin Modern Classics treatment around about now. They’d be done up in paperback with a jarringly suitable bit of art stuck on the front, while inwards you’d get an introductory essay with a name like, “Shadow of the Animal: Manichean belief structures and Agro the pony”, written by Tony Tanner – if he wasn’t already dead. You’d plod through that intro because you desired to get your money’s worth, and after all that, you might end up with the strange feeling that there weren’t too many reasons left to re-read the actual stories anymore.

Fortunately, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are movie games, and movie games have their own impulses when it comes to curatorship. In Sony’s fresh HD collection, both of Fumito Ueda’s classics are reborn in high resolution and 7.1 surround sound with improved framework rates and it’s left to the player, rather than Tony Tanner, to unravel what they think of the games themselves. Instead of scholarly essays, there are downloadable themes – one for each game – and making-of movies (none of which we’ve been sent in our review copy, alas). Instead of the unusual cover picture, there are trophies and stereoscopic 3D for both titles.

Best of all, there are still slew of reasons left to play these games again. Let’s check them out.

It’s still the single best chunk of rumble feedback in games. You know it, right? A little stumbling shudder that jiggles timidly through the pad. For once, it’s not telling you where to dig for treasure, or that you’re taking harm, or that the emperor’s fleet is attacking the hangar so you’d better scramble to the next cut-scene. Instead, it’s telling you that you’re running along holding arms with Yorda, and that she’s fighting to keep up with you.

There are so many things that should be annoying about Ico, and yet none of them actually are. There are big things, like the fact that the game’s essentially a prolonged escort mission – or at least when you describe it, that’s what it sounds like. Then there are little things, such as platforming that tends to be a little scrappy and inelegant, and simplistic combat: a basic matter of hacking away at the dark shapes that pack the strange castle where you’ve been trapped, from time to time violating off to haul Yorda out of a fuckhole.

Why do these things work so well then? At the risk of sounding like a man with Stockholm Syndrome, I think they work because of the roughness. Ico wouldn’t be better if you could backflip from one ledge to the next like Lara Croft or air-juggle baddies like Kratos.

It wouldn’t be better because you wouldn’t be a appalled little kid anymore, and that’s what Ico’s all about: it’s about being plucky and attempting to look after someone else even tho’ you’re lost and spooked out by your panicking surroundings. It’s about exploring an eerie castle not because you’re looking for the fabled Gold Humidor of King Carlos the Tuberculotic, but because you and your otherworldly companion are hunting for the exit.

Juxtaposed with that is the dreamy emptiness of the setting itself, and it’s here that the HD reworking indeed does its stuff. It’s a shame that the framework rate’s capped at thirty frames per 2nd rather than 60, perhaps, but observing the game’s assets in 1080p resolution is a bit of a revelation.

Ico’s aesthetic may have held up over the years, but if you comeback to the original PS2 game now, it’s remarkably blurry in all its prettiness. With the PS3 version, everything’s still bloomy and mysterious, but the detailing has come to life. Abruptly, you can see individual shafts of light streaming through windows, you can get more of a sense of spectacle from the characters, you can even make out rough patches on the brickwork and leaves on the trees. The art may be unchanged, but the sharper presentation has brought this world of grass and stone and cloudy sky into concentrate. It’s understated, but it’s beautiful.

Ico – Page one

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection HD

Shadows and fog.

By Christian Donlan Published 08/09/2011 Version tested PlayStation three

If Ico and Shadow and the Colossus were novels, they’d be getting the Penguin Modern Classics treatment around about now. They’d be done up in paperback with a jarringly adequate bit of art stuck on the front, while inwards you’d get an introductory essay with a name like, “Shadow of the Animal: Manichean belief structures and Agro the pony”, written by Tony Tanner – if he wasn’t already dead. You’d plod through that intro because you dreamed to get your money’s worth, and after all that, you might end up with the strange feeling that there weren’t too many reasons left to re-read the actual stories anymore.

Fortunately, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are movie games, and movie games have their own impulses when it comes to curatorship. In Sony’s fresh HD collection, both of Fumito Ueda’s classics are reborn in high resolution and 7.1 surround sound with improved framework rates and it’s left to the player, rather than Tony Tanner, to unravel what they think of the games themselves. Instead of scholarly essays, there are downloadable themes – one for each game – and making-of movies (none of which we’ve been sent in our review copy, alas). Instead of the unusual cover photo, there are trophies and stereoscopic 3D for both titles.

Best of all, there are still slew of reasons left to play these games again. Let’s check them out.

It’s still the single best chunk of rumble feedback in games. You know it, right? A little stumbling shudder that jiggles timidly through the pad. For once, it’s not telling you where to dig for treasure, or that you’re taking harm, or that the emperor’s fleet is attacking the hangar so you’d better scramble to the next cut-scene. Instead, it’s telling you that you’re running along holding mitts with Yorda, and that she’s fighting to keep up with you.

There are so many things that should be annoying about Ico, and yet none of them actually are. There are big things, like the fact that the game’s essentially a prolonged escort mission – or at least when you describe it, that’s what it sounds like. Then there are little things, such as platforming that tends to be a little scrappy and inelegant, and simplistic combat: a basic matter of hacking away at the dark shapes that pack the strange castle where you’ve been trapped, at times violating off to haul Yorda out of a slot.

Why do these things work so well then? At the risk of sounding like a man with Stockholm Syndrome, I think they work because of the roughness. Ico wouldn’t be better if you could backflip from one ledge to the next like Lara Croft or air-juggle baddies like Kratos.

It wouldn’t be better because you wouldn’t be a appalled little kid anymore, and that’s what Ico’s all about: it’s about being courageous and attempting to look after someone else even tho’ you’re lost and spooked out by your panicking surroundings. It’s about exploring an eerie castle not because you’re looking for the fabled Gold Humidor of King Carlos the Tuberculotic, but because you and your otherworldly companion are hunting for the exit.

Juxtaposed with that is the dreamy emptiness of the setting itself, and it’s here that the HD reworking truly does its stuff. It’s a shame that the framework rate’s capped at thirty frames per 2nd rather than 60, perhaps, but watching the game’s assets in 1080p resolution is a bit of a revelation.

Ico’s aesthetic may have held up over the years, but if you comeback to the original PS2 game now, it’s remarkably blurry in all its prettiness. With the PS3 version, everything’s still bloomy and mysterious, but the detailing has come to life. All of a sudden, you can see individual shafts of light streaming through windows, you can get more of a sense of spectacle from the characters, you can even make out rough patches on the brickwork and leaves on the trees. The art may be unchanged, but the sharper presentation has brought this world of grass and stone and cloudy sky into concentrate. It’s understated, but it’s beautiful.

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