Monthly Archives: October 2005

Shadow of the Colossus

The word “experience” really is an apt descriptor for Shadow of the Colossus. At a certain point, it ceases to exist as a game you play and becomes something you experience.

The narrative (which isn’t a very accurate word, there’s not a lot of talking) is simple: A wanderer on horseback brings a young girl’s body to an ancient temple. The wanderer knows the legend of the Colossi. If they are defeated, they grant power great enough to bring people back from death. His path is clear.

This is their story.

How well crafted is it? There are niggling bits that I could mention that are simply limitations of the media. * To mention them would be like complaining about a stellar movie that I watched simply because it is always the same no matter how many times I see it.

As games go, Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful. The music, the landscape, the story, the mechanics are such that I was driven to complete it. That does not happen often. It’s that good.

The sense of accomplishment and elation after defeating a Colossus is unparalleled. However, that celebratory feeling is laced with doubt. Is this the right thing to do?

There is a very poignant moment near the endgame which nearly had me in tears. I had to pause the game and compose myself before continuing on.

This is one of the most emotional games I have ever played. Please do not miss Shadow of the Colossus.

* Minor camera issues. I mention this because I feel that I would be remiss if I did not bring it up. After having completed Shadow of the Colossus, I realize now that when I was fighting with the camera trying to look at something else, it was actually pointing me at what I should be paying attention to. It was a not so subtle hint that I was ignoring. In fact, the last Colossus would have been much simpler (and not a two hour confrontation) had I just paid attention to what I was looking at. Thank you developers.

Colossus Hunter

I spoke about Shadow of the Colossus earlier, and it’s very different from most games out there.

It is engrossing, however, as I brought down seven Colossi last night without thinking about how late it was.

Without revealing too much, every time I defeat one, I find myself questioning if it’s the right thing to do. I’m fairly certain that it’s not, just from the snippets of plot that I’ve digested. Why the protagonist even starts this quest, I’m not really certain.

Mortals are mortals after all.

Falling Water

It’s raining.

I can smell the wet playground from here. The windows are open. It’s October. I can tell because of all the orange and black decorations on the bulletin boards. Mr. Christiansen is at the front of the class, teaching algebra underneath the crucifix. I can see an x and a y on the board, but I’m finding it hard to listen because of the rain.

It’s getting progressively louder on the awnings above the windows. Then the sound of rain gives way to something that sounds like tons of gravel being poured out of a truck. Mr. Christiansen opens the door to the playground and takes a look outside.

He laughs.

“Hail.” He says.

I stand up and look out the windows.

The playground, normally black asphalt, is white.

Pieces of ice, the size of chocolate malt balls, have covered the entire playground. I’m astounded. Frozen water, falling from the sky.

We all look at Mr. Christiansen for a moment. Nothing is said. Finally, he takes a step outside the door and tells us, “Ten minutes. And no running.”

I run outside and pick up a bunch of hail that’s frozen together. It looks like a clump of fish eggs. People start throwing chunks of ice at each other and it all starts to melt too quickly.

The ten minutes are over and Mr. Christiansen calls us back inside. He tells us about how hail is formed, how specks of dust collect supercooled water that are then buffeted by winds up and down in the atmosphere before they become heavy enough to fall to earth.

I’m not really listening.

It’s raining. Continue reading

Going back?

I don’t know how to answer whenever I’m asked, “Have you gone back?”

They always mean the Philippines. I know a few things about the Philippines.

Hundreds of islands. Dozens of dialects. Corruption in the government. Fought (and lost) a war against the United States for its independence. Really bad traffic. Surprisingly cool in the mountain provinces. Soda in a plastic baggie.

There’s more, but I find all of this self acquired knowledge woefully incomplete. I don’t know where the stereotypes end and my culture begins.

I know these things, but I don’t know them. I haven’t experienced them firsthand. So how could I return to someplace that I’ve never been?

Full Disclosure

I’ve been in the Beta for City of Villains for a few weeks. Officially, the Non Disclosure Agreement has been lifted and I can talk about how the game is.

I am having an awesome time. It is, in the geek vernacular, “Airwolf.”

The Rogue Isles look fantastic. There is a lot of character in the artwork of each building, every alleyway, even the streetlamps. On the whole, it contributes to the flavor of the Isles as being a mish mash of different cultures. Streets (if they exist) are haphazard, more like the layout of a country village than a city grid. Overall, the developers, the artists, and the musicians have created a place that is very, very different from Paragon City.

Paragon City is the Birthplace of Tomorrow. The ultimate planned metropolis. Sure, it has its problem areas, but overall, the city is neat, orderly, and well lit. You can walk down the street and generally, feel safe.

The citizenry are for the most part, well mannered.

The Rogue Isles by comparison, are what is buried under rubble when a place like Paragon City is created. It is not planned. It is not pretty. It was swept aside and forgotten.

The people? Let me break it down for you. The police are disapproving of your evil ways. The criminal element that is already here, doesn’t want you cutting in on their action. The citizens that you enact villainy upon are not exactly welcoming. Occupying hero forces? Yeah, they definitely want to send you back to prison, but it’s not their first choice.

Hell, the people who busted you out of prison and brought you here in the first place dislike you.

Did I mention that this game is awesome? *

I am playing a Mastermind, which is an Archetype based entirely on letting your henchmen do a majority (if not all) of the fighting. My current specialization is Necromancy, but I could have picked from Mercenaries, Ninjas, or Robots. All they need now is Pirates and Spaghetti Monsters.

Looking forward for its release at the end of the month. The open beta should be coming soon

* And by awesome, I mean totally sweet.