How PS4’s Shadow of the Colossus changes the original for the better

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How PS4’s Shadow of the Colossus changes the original for the better

Bluepoint Games on what it should keep and what it should replace in the adventure, out 7th February

When remastering an experience as legendary as Shadow of the Colossus, you have to make a decision. Do you keep everything as close to the original version of the game as possible, or smooth out some of the source material’s rough edges? During our recent trip to Bluepoint Games in Austin, TX, we asked where exactly the team drew that line:

“The changes that come across in the game are very thoughtful changes,” says Randall Lowe, producer on the new Shadow of the Colossus. “We worked hard to preserve the way the game felt, while making the control scheme more comparable to the Uncharteds and the Horizons of the world.

“There are things we decided we weren’t going to change,” Lowe continues. “For instance, Wander standing still to fire a bow. Everything about Shadow is very deliberate. The way Wander moves throughout the world is heavy. It’s not light and fast and arcadey. He carries the burden of his actions in how he moves.

“Making the game the way you remember it is the most important mission we have, regardless of everything else.”

“We have a lot of passionate debates,” adds Peter Dalton, technical director on the new Shadow. “We ask ourselves: what does the user find endearing about this game, and are the changes that we’re making enhancing that feeling of nostalgia and love, or is it going against that sort of feel?”

Taking a measured approach to a remaster — or in the case of Shadow of the Colossus, a full-on rebuild – is a good strategy, agrees studio president Marco Thrush: “We listen to the fans. What issues did people originally have with the game? What are the biggest complaints? What are the biggest bugs that slipped through in the original release? What are the things we can fix?”

He goes on to offer an example of technical improvements having unintended consequences: “Originally, as a side effect of the framerate increase on the PS3 version of Shadow, a mistake was exposed where the third Colossi became more difficult. So, now we’ve had the chance to fix those kinds of things that slipped through initially. It gave us a second chance.”

The game’s iconic visuals have also received a monstrous overhaul. Take the fur — something you’ll be staring at quite a bit as you struggle to scale each of the game’s massive creatures.

“Obviously, the whole crux of being on a Colossus is being able to grip that fur and move through it, so a lot of time and effort was spent getting that perfect,” explains Mark Skelton, the game’s art director. “We spent a lot of time on the fur tech, trying to make the fur lay and clump just right, getting the shading right and making sure it moves right when you’re climbing through it.”

Fun fact: this fur is not actually an “art asset” by traditional means — it’s dynamically generated on the fly by the game’s engine, making it feel that much more organic as Wander clings to it for dear life.

Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 features a full suite of Photo Mode controls, allowing for the creation of some impressively dramatic scenes. Learn more about it in our SotC Photo Mode reveal story.

Speaking broadly, Bluepoint’s goal with any project is not just to recreate a game as faithfully as possible at higher resolutions. Thrush explains: “To me, it’s about preserving the memory of how a game was originally meant to be played. There’s the saying about rose-tinted glasses: you perceive it like it was better than it actually was, right?

“With Shadow of the Colossus we’re working on a remake – it’s not really a remaster. One, because we already did the remaster. And, two, it’s getting to the point where, like, going from PS2 to PS4, there are certain expectations. Just re-releasing it the same way we had on PS3 just wouldn’t have done the title justice. It deserves more. We’re lucky that Sony agreed with our stance on that.”

Bluepoint’s ground-up rebuild of Shadow of the Colossus is right around the corner, launching 7th February on PS4. Now, be on thy way.

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25 Comments

  • Very excited about this release!

  • Very excited about this release!

  • A shame that we don’t get the Special Edition as I find it more attractive than the Collectors edition.

  • Very excited about this release!

  • I think some people might be very excited about this release :).

    I had it on PS3 but never got around to playing it, just as well!

  • Physical is £10 cheaper from shopto.net and includes the store preorder items. Also your preorder isn’t charged until they actually post the game. Win win really.

    • Why is it win win?

    • Really? If you can’t see how paying £10 less while also getting the same store extras, which is extremely rare btw and not being billed until it’s been sent isn’t a win win then I don’t know what to tell you.

    • But then you have to put the disc in the drive.. ewww

    • But the concept of ‘win win’ is when you have to make a decision that will result in one of two potential outcomes and yet either one will pay off for the decision-maker. According to your statement, buying physical is win while buying digital is lose. So in reality it’s not ‘win win’ but ‘win lose’.

    • Buying digital with no resale value at a higher price is win lose in Sony’s favour. The concept is not based on outcome but party satisfaction. Buying physical at a lower price that suits both parties is win win.

    • Personally I prefer the disc-less option. Only in the case of an attractive Collectors Edition(this one isn’t in my book) or the much coveted Special Edition( which we won’t get) would I be interested in a physical version. Instead I’ll wait for the digital version to drop in price (these days it tends to happen quickly); that’s more of win situation for me.

  • Thanks again for not giving us the Special Edition Playstation Europe. Man you have to wonder what you lot are thinking most of time when gargantuan screw ups like this occur.

    • Very well said, there is no possible reason for EUA getting this and not us, a country that don’t understand art at all, all they care about is shooters!

  • essential my dear friend

  • A remake of a remaster of the original…as much as i love the game i just cant get excited about it for a third time

    • It’s a remake of the original, not a remake of the remaster.

    • It’s not a remake or a remaster, but a rebuild.

    • It’s a texture remaster based on the source code of the PS3 port (already confirmed by Bluepoint). So no, it’s not a “rebuild”.

    • Not sure about the definition here but I have read many times that this is made from the ground up but it is same game (geography, enemies and gameplay) as the original. There is no way a remaster (the more or less exact same game polished up) could look like this.

    • @Ryusennin, It’s not a remaster, that was what the PS3 version was as it was upscaled, and the textures slightly improved.

      Everything in the PS4 version is built new from the ground up, terrain, scenery, characters, animation. What is shown would not be possible to update from the original assets as they’re too low quality.

      In game development, you build high quality, then downscale for optimisation, as what they had wouldn’t have sufficed, as stated they didn’t want it to be another port, they rebuilt it all from scratch, but it is also not a remake as that would essentially be changing the game as Ratchet & Clank did.

      I quote from the very last sentence of the blog post.

      “Bluepoint’s ground-up rebuild of Shadow of the Colossus is right around the corner”

  • Where is our limited edition?

  • I never really got into this game. I found a bit dull. It is good to see a remaster done well though. As a vita owner I have played some absolute shockers.

  • I want the Special Edition in the UK!

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