Shadow of the Colossus in 3D: Eyes On, Hands On

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Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

Looming majestically over the wind-swept plains, the Colossus lowers its ponderous head to peer at the tiny, curious creature scuttling before it. Of course, that tiny creature is you. And before long, you’ll be dangling from the great brute, magic sword clutched tightly in one small hand, as you prepare to bring the Goliath to its knees with a series of pinprick stabs. Once the battle is over and you’ve slain the giant, you may be left to grapple with a haunting question: “Why?”

This is Shadow of the Colossus, one of the most highly regarded games ever released and a beacon to many game developers for its epic grandness, its subtle artistry, and its messy emotional context. Along with Ico, Shadow of the Colossus is returning this spring in dazzling HD with robust (though optional) stereoscopic 3D support. I donned a pair of active-shutter 3D glasses to get a fresh look at Fumito Ueda’s masterpiece running on the PS3.

Playing Shadow of the Colossus in 3D, I was immediately struck by the agoraphobic vastness of the landscape. The stark beauty of the world is far clearer thanks to new high-resolution environment textures looted from the hard drives at developer Team Ico. And in case you were wondering, Bluepoint Games is handling the conversion duties for the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection — if you played the God of War Collection, then you’re familiar with their handiwork.

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

And then there are the colossi. I defeated the first two (there are 16 in all), and scrambling across their shaggy backs in stereoscopic 3D added immensely to the drama. But it it also aided the gameplay: Seen in 3D, the platforms and protrusions that jut from their immense bodies seem to occupy the foreground, making it easier to judge distances and find a safe place to rest when your grip is weakening. And dangling hundreds of feet in the air now gives you a striking sense of vertigo — the ground seems to sprawl endlessly around you, threatening to swallow you up.

Of course, you don’t need a 3D TV to enjoy the other benefits of the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. In addition to the new high-res environment textures, the crisp HD resolution brings out cinematic details I missed on the PS2 version, such as tiny birds flying around the head of the first colossus. The framerate now sits at a fluid, solid 30 frames per second, eliminating one of the few complaints of the original game. When I spun the camera angle around, I also noted smooth, natural-looking motion blur. And Trophy support is most definitely in.

Other than the massive graphical overhaul and stereoscopic 3D support, this is the same Shadow of the Colossus that you know and love. The minimalist story, gameplay, unique controls, and user interface are identical. You know what they say: Don’t mess with a good thing.

The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection is scheduled to arrive on the PS3 in spring of 2011. Are you interested in trying the game in stereoscopic 3D? Let us know in the comments.

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