Review cover Shadow of the Colossus (2018) (PlayStation 4)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

  • Release Date (NA): February 6, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): February 7, 2018
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Bluepoint Games, Team Ico

Game Features:

Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative
Shadow of the Colossus for the PS4 is a complete remake of the PS2 release, featuring full "Ultra HD" graphics created from the ground up. With modern controls and a few extra features, is playing the remake really worth it?

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Beautiful Remake for a Beautiful Game

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Since Shadow of the Colossus originally released in October 2005, it's been commonly referred to as one of the greatest PS2 games ever, pushing the PS2's hardware to the absolute limits of what was possible and showing everyone that some video games truly could be considered an art form. While the game had amazing gameplay, visuals, and a soundtrack that balances on perfect, the technical aspects of the game were simply too far ahead of it's time; the stock PS2 release was plagued with frame rate drops, an erratic camera, and relatively awkward controls. In 2011, Shadow of the Colossus saw a PS3 HD remaster that helped fix a majority of the frame rate drops and added some higher resolution textures. But, unfortunately, the same issues stubbornly remained; the frame rate was much more stable in this release, but still occasionally dropped in more intense scenes, the camera still had the same issues, and the awkward controls were still...awkward. Now, in 2018, developer Bluepoint Games has completely remade Shadow of the Colossus from the ground up, featuring "Ultra HD" graphics, a new control scheme, and a few new features as well like New Game + and Mirror Mode. But is this remake truly the definitive version of the game? Is it really the best way to play Shadow of the Colossus in 2018? 

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Yes. Yes it is. To start, I'll give you the general gist of the game since it remains virtually unchanged since its initial 2005 release. Shadow of the Colossus starts off with a beautiful cutscene showing Wander's trip to the Forbidden Lands and the Shrine of Worship, delivering a young girl named Mono to the shrine's alter and asking the entity that resides there, Dormin, to bring her back to life. Dormin, of course, ambiguously agrees when he see Wander brandish the sacred Ancient Sword, and assigns a task to Wander as trade; defeat the 16 Colossi and Dormin will grant his request. And that's basically it, you start off in the Shrine of Worship, you're given a Colossus to find and kill using the ancient sword as a beacon, and once defeated you're taken back to the Shrine of Worship and given a new Colossus to find, rinse and repeat. There are no NPCs to interact with, no real side quests to fiddle with, no other filler enemies to fight. It's just you, your horse Agro, and 16 Colossi. This simplistic game style may seem like a con at first, but as you make your way to each Colossi, you find that simplicity really just fits with the aesthetics and setting of the game. The Forbidden Lands are empty, but pleasing to explore thanks to the varied environments, with forests, lakes and rivers, canyons, deserts, and more to check out and view with little standing in your way from the get-go. Climbing objects (and Colossi) plays a major role in the general gameplay, and makes use of a Stamina gauge that increases with every Colossi you defeat. Accompanying you on your fight with Colossi is music by Kow Otani, which is again untouched from the original and is still the perfect soundtrack for any game of its type. 

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Exploration and finding the Colossi is only half of what Shadow of the Colossus is about, the other half, obviously, is taking down those Colossi when you find them, and that's where Shadow of the Colossus really shines. Instead of focusing on just non-stop action packed button mashing, combat relies on puzzle solving, environmental awareness, and the ability to successfully climb a Colossus while managing your stamina gauge. Once you reach a Colossus, the first thing you'll want to do is find its weak points. To do this, Wander uses the Sacred Sword to reflect sunlight, and where the narrower the beam is the closer the weak point will be. Once you find the weak spot (with one usually being on a Colossi's head, of course), you must climb the Colossus and give it the ol' stabby stabby. But this is generally easier said than done. Wander is mainly equipped with two weapons, the Sacred Sword to find and stab a Colossi's weak point, and a bow which is generally used to attract, distract, or temporarily cripple a Colossus. Each Colossus has its own little gimmicky design and arena, each playing a significant role as to how you'll be fighting each Colossus. For some, you might need to shoot a particular body part to make the Colossus shuffle down so you can grab a particular patch of fur, for others you might need to attract the Colossi to a specific ledge or area so you can jump on top. 

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But this is all old stuff, things present in the 2005 release, so what exactly is new? The graphics, obviously, have received a massive upgrade over the original and PS3 HD Remaster, with each asset made from the ground up in Ultra HD. If you have a PS4 Pro, you can make use of two different graphical modes; one offers textures at 1440p (upscaled to 4K) and 30fps for a "Cinematic" experience, the other lowers textures down to 1080p, but gives you a stable 60fps. If you own a normal PS4, you're left with just 1080p and 30fps, but regardless of how much action is on screen it is thankfully a buttery smooth 30fps. Both the PS4 Pro and the original PS4 have additional filter options you can apply to the game that slightly changes the way the game looks. While some are relatively useless, like Emerald whatever which just gives the game a  weird green overlay, others offer more vivid colors, or darker tones than the stock experience. Animations are also upgraded from the original release, for both Wander and the Colossi, which gives the gameplay a more "fluid" feel, instead of a relatively jerky experience. The camera is also upgraded from the previous game and is less erratic, no longer randomly correcting itself in times you simply don't want it to. The controls were also revamped with a "modern" control scheme, which simplifies some actions like rolling and picking up items, and makes it a more "tight" experience. If you're a veteran of the old releases, the old control scheme is still there as well. 

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The Remake also includes a few new items and game modes, as well. Originally, you needed to beat the game on Normal mode to unlock Hard mode (which features different weak points for Colossi, and more damage dealt to Wander), but it's now available right from the start, so if you've already played the previous releases and want more of a challenge on your first playthrough you can do so right away. A New Game + mode and Mirror Mode have been introduced in this release, with Mirror Mode obviously mirroring the Forbidden Lands, and New Game + mode that keeps the Stamina and Health upgrades you receive from beating Colossi on a previous playthrough. A Photo Mode was also added, which allows users to pause the game during gameplay to take UI-less screenshots. You can edit filters, change the FOV, swap the point of view from which the screenshot is taken, and more to produce a heartwarming, beautiful screenshot suitable for marketing PR...or, if you're like me, as your new desktop background since it's so dang pretty. A new skin for Wander was introduced as a reward for Hard Time Attack mode, which gives Wander his Dormin-possessed look, complete with horns and all. A new collectible has also been introduced with this particular remake, in the form of little Golden Coins. There are 79 of them to collect, and you'll hear a high-pitched ringing noise when you're near one. Collecting all 79 will give you a special, new unlockable item that is completely underwhelming for the time it takes to find them all, which I won't spoil here, but it's still nice to see at least some new content that alters actual gameplay. 

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Beautiful need graphical assets and increased performance.
  • Core gameplay that makes Shadow of the Colossus so good was untouched.
  • New content is welcome, if minor.
  • New control scheme that fixes previous, awkward controls.
  • Less erratic camera implementation.
  • Soundtrack is still beautiful.
What We Didn't Like ...
  • The game is simply too short.
9.5
out of 10

Overall

Shadow of the Colossus was a masterpiece when it released in 2005, with only few technical flaws truly hurting the game, and this remake basically perfects every issue previously had with the game beyond fixing it's general length. It took me 3 hours and 52 minutes to beat the game, granted, with a lot of prior experience, but it still lasts the same approximate 8-10 hours of gameplay for new players. Despite this lack of length, I strongly suggest old players and new to pick up this remake at some point in time, to truly experience the definitive version of Shadow of the Colossus
Eurogamer has a really interesting article talking about the aesthetics ("fidelity") of Shadow of the Colossus, and about the effect of less abstraction in video game art styles:
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-02-04-the-question-of-fidelity-and-shadow-of-the-colossus

Very interesting read. Putting it here since Shadow of the Colossus definitely falls into the more evocative, "artsy" side of gaming, and some of you may find it interesting to see another perspective on it.
 
I already own the ps3 version, are there any significant improvements compared to previous ps3 one?

Edit: never mind, I read the review
 
Somehow I ended up in the reality where it's "Shadow of the Colossus" instead of "Shadow of Colossus"
 
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S
sorry... i can't agree with your review. it's the same game that was on the ps2 and ps3 but with better graphics. the world is still very empty and almost no story. sure back in the ps2 area it was innovative but this is just the same game. and today its not a big deal. no way this game is 9.5. it's just a remake. i will give it 6/10 based on what i seen. people complaining that the world of zelda breath of the wild is empty and yet give this game above 9.
 
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sorry... i can't agree with your review. it's the same game that was on the ps2 and ps3 but with better graphics. the world is still very empty and almost no story. sure back in the ps2 area it was innovative but this is just the same game. and today its not a big deal. no way this game is 9.5. it's just a remake. i will give it 6/10 based on what i seen. people complaining that the world of zelda breath of the wild is empty and yet give this game above 9.
And yet it was choosen as game of the year...

From what i have seen and read, shadow of the colossus metacritic score of 92 is well deserved.
 
sorry... i can't agree with your review. it's the same game that was on the ps2 and ps3 but with better graphics. the world is still very empty and almost no story. sure back in the ps2 area it was innovative but this is just the same game. and today its not a big deal. no way this game is 9.5. it's just a remake. i will give it 6/10 based on what i seen. people complaining that the world of zelda breath of the wild is empty and yet give this game above 9.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how fun is it? a 9.5. It just means the game has held up really well, and all the added stuff just made it more fun to play. Newness is not a requirement for funness. Also, if you played this game just thinking about how empty it was...methinks artsy awe and wonder isn't really something you experience?

Personally, I'm just happy they did something with the controls.

Somehow I ended up in the reality where it's "Shadow of the Colossus" instead of "Shadow of Colossus"
You human brains are weird. Tend to edit out common words, or words that blend together, when you put it into long-term memory. some brains just hate remembering "of the" because it doesn't flow as well as just "of". An aesthetic choice by your brain, but whatcha gonna do. There are no realities where it's shadow of colossus :P it doesn't make grammatical sense.
 
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sorry... i can't agree with your review. it's the same game that was on the ps2 and ps3 but with better graphics. the world is still very empty and almost no story. sure back in the ps2 area it was innovative but this is just the same game. and today its not a big deal. no way this game is 9.5. it's just a remake. i will give it 6/10 based on what i seen. people complaining that the world of zelda breath of the wild is empty and yet give this game above 9.
There's a big difference between BOTW and SOTC. SOTC was designed to be an empty, yet beautiful world. BOTW is an open world RPG with random enemies thrown around to make it look populated when it wasn't.

Also, I fail to see why age has anything to do with rating a game, particularly when the gameplay still remains aa perfect now as it did then. By that logic, we might as well call OoT 3D a shit game, cuz it's still the same game! What kind of moron would actually like the same game twice??
 
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Fully remade from the ground up = graphics remaster.

You even used the words in your comment. remake does not =/= remaster

Fully remade from the ground up = REMAKE

graphics remaster = REMASTER

Not sure why your confusing words and arguing semantics, like I said you have the wording right, but not the correct interpretation / understanding of it.

Unless I missed your point, but I don't think I did. ;)

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2...s-a-remake-not-a-remaster-says-shuhei-yoshida

The PS3 version is a REMASTER.
 
sorry... i can't agree with your review. it's the same game that was on the ps2 and ps3 but with better graphics. the world is still very empty and almost no story. sure back in the ps2 area it was innovative but this is just the same game. and today its not a big deal. no way this game is 9.5. it's just a remake. i will give it 6/10 based on what i seen. people complaining that the world of zelda breath of the wild is empty and yet give this game above 9.

Agreed man, never bothered to pick it up back in PS2 and it looks boring af from gameplays I've seen. Then they go for the laughable "art form" getaway card as if videogames weren't commercial junk culture meant to be fun and entertaining.

It seems hip to hate Nintendo games around here and hand out 9s to releases on sony's console. It's funny how they still try to justify their review of BotW as not being petty and hating on the game lol. Too bad attach rate numbers show how far from reality most reviewers here are.
 
S
if you making a remake at least add few more monstes or replace some of them. why would i buy the same game that i already played on the ps3? (also i need to buy the console for this remake). 4k graphics wow... i hope this game at least runs at 60 fps.
 
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if you making a remake at least add few more monstes or replace some of them. why would i buy the same game that i already played on the ps3? (also i need to buy the console for this remake). 4k graphics wow... i hope this game at least runs at 60 fps.
To my understanding 4K mode runs at 30FPS, FHD runs at 60FPS
 
Well i was debating on getting this since I own it on my PS2 and PS3. But ya sold me. Great review for a great game.
 
if you making a remake at least add few more monstes or replace some of them. why would i buy the same game that i already played on the ps3? (also i need to buy the console for this remake). 4k graphics wow... i hope this game at least runs at 60 fps.

If they added a few more colossi then you could justify the ground up BS but games are more that just graphics. So they added photomode? big woop. People play photo mode and netflix nowadays more than they play video games.

I will wait until they remake it from "under the ground - up" for the ps5.
 
@mario5555 This game is a remaster not a remake. Bluepoint games have said that the ps2's original code is running underneath and its a fusion of the 2 engines. They said its built from the ground up only for marketing. They have to word it to let people know that a lot more was done to the graphics to separate it from the ps3 version.

The ps4 version is not built from the ground up. This is why the games locations and spacing is exactly the same.
 
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What I like about the ps3 version (the first I played) is that it has 3d.
Now that Sony pushes VR, there are virtually 0 games on ps4 that support 3d. It's a shame.
Playing in 3d makes it really cool. (for me at least)
I'll definitely replay this game though, on ps4 - and I rarely replay games :)

The ps4 version is not built from the ground up. This is why the games locations and spacing is exactly the same.
The locations and spacing could be exactly the same, even if it wasn't a complete rewrite. They still have the original data after all. It's not like it's a 'blackbox' and they need to copy the game by looking at the screen when playing the ps2 version lol.
 
What I like about the ps3 version (the first I played) is that it has 3d.
Now that Sony pushes VR, there are virtually 0 games on ps4 that support 3d. It's a shame.
Playing in 3d makes it really cool. (for me at least)
I'll definitely replay this game though, on ps4 - and I rarely replay games :)


The locations and spacing could be exactly the same, even if it wasn't a complete rewrite. They still have the original data after all. It's not like it's a 'blackbox' and they need to copy the game by looking at the screen when playing the ps2 version lol.
An example of a remake would be Metroid Zero Mission. It based on the Nes game but its vastly different than what a typical remaster is. The physics, speed of movement, being able to duck, aim diagonally, the new weapons, the scale of boss sizes, cutscenes, new content and bosses, map layout and design. Its a perfect example of a remake.

SOTC is basically the exact same game as the PS2. It has more done to it than what a typical remaster usually has but is still running the ps2's code which is why the physics and animation is the same as the ps2 version. And people that played both versions also feel its similarities.

Here's the quote from the review.
"Core gameplay that makes Shadow of the Colossus so good was untouched."

Imagine people saying that for the Nes Metroid and Metroid Zero Mission.

This version is the definitive because of the improvements and graphical update. And a update in graphics, even with the core gameplay being exactly the same, can really change its atmosphere and feel of it. It just shows you how important art style and colors are needed to convey certain mood and atmosphere in games. And can make things that play the exact the same way feel different.
 
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I remember playing SoTC back in the PS2 days, my daughter loved watching me play it. She used to called the colossi, "Los Golosos" (The Gourmand) in spanish. I am very fond to this game as you can imagine. Relived the experience in 3D on the PS3 and can't wait for this new remake masterpiece!! Although my daughter is almost and adult now, I bet she's gonna love seeing it again.
 
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Review cover
Product Information:
  • Release Date (NA): February 6, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): February 7, 2018
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Bluepoint Games, Team Ico
Game Features:
Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative

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