Games: Shadow of the Colossus remake updates one of gaming's greats

The doe-eyed giants of Shadow of the Colossus are essentially frightened animals – the game tasks you with their wholesale slaughter
Neil McGreevy

Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)

By: Sony

WHEN Fumito Ueda's follow-up to Ico landed on PS2 some 13 years ago, it blew people's minds. Far removed from the usual console fodder, Shadow of the Colossus was a sombre, affecting experience set in a bleached world of rolling hills, and where the entire game boiled down to a series of boss battles.

A barebones remaster for the PS3 kept its legacy alive, though Sony's latest return to the well is a full-blown remake, created from the ground up for their latest hardware.

Unfettered from plot or gameplay machinations, SotC is as simple as it is odd. The story of a boy and his dead lady friend, players must roam a sprawling, derelict land, defeating its 16 giant beasts to bring her back to life. And that's it.

Just finding the colossi is a journey in itself, each secreted in far-flung pockets of the game's lonely landscape. And when you finally discover your quarry, taking them down is no small matter. Each is essentially a level in itself, beginning with the small matter of climbing aboard their mossy, puzzle-box bodies to discover weak points before stabbing with gusto.

Most are the size of a building and when you finally reach their summit the game nails the sense of scrabbling atop a giant, sentient skyscraper, hanging on for dear life when they get agitated.

Tinged with regret, SotC blazed new ground in emotional gaming. These doe-eyed giants are essentially frightened animals and the game tasks you with their wholesale slaughter. If you've ever wanted to bludgeon pandas or whales to death (and who hasn't?), this is as close as you'll get.

Such was its ambition, the original didn't half chug along on PS2. It now looks suitably stunning, running at a flawless 30fps and in 1080p and with some moody visual filters for those who wish to tinker. On Pro, you can boost the frame-rate to 60fps and, for those with 4K tellies, to an eye-melting 1440p.

Better still, a revised control scheme updates the laggy PS2 input, though getting your horse to go where you want is still a lottery. Thankfully, Kow Otani's melancholic soundtrack has been left unsullied and remains one of the best committed to gaming.

A frequent flier on best-ever lists, Shadow of the Colossus is a landmark title, still essential even its hoary old PS2 form. Sony's latest remake, however, updates a milestone in gaming history with such aplomb that you'll happily fork over the cash for a third time.

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