Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

Two more ColossususuueusuzezZ slaughtered today. First up was a flying one, which although ACE to actually kill, was a real pain to get on the back of. Not because he was hard though – just because he’s flying around a lake, and you have to swim to bits that you can stand on before you can attract his attention. Thing is, swimming is slooooooow, so the fight took ages (as I fell off a few times).

Next up was a big beardy baddie, and yes! You climb his beard! Amazing.

Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

A good thing about this game is that it’s perfectly suited for short gaming sessions. I’ve killed four Colossi now, and none of them have taken very long (as can be seen by my 1h17m play time so far, and 15 minutes of that was trying to find Colossus number 4).

Number 4 had me scratching my head for a while (long enough for Spooky Disembodied Voice to give me a useless clue), but then I realised he would try to look for me in the underground warren bit near where you find him, so I could sneak up behind him and climb his tail. Head stabbage!

The horse riding bits are pretty crap, and the sword-direction “compass” is fantastically vague, but the actual giant slaying bits are pretty epic. I was kind of expecting the colossusususeses to bit much bigger than they actually are though. Hmm.

Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

Amazingly, this arrived just a few days before I completed Ico, so I thought, while I’m waiting for Super Mario Galaxy to arrive, I’d give it a go. Also, I’m more likely to spot any subtle links between this and Ico if I play it now rather than in six years time…

So far, I’ve watched the lengthy opening cinematic(s), and killed myself a couple of Colossi (which I’m not certain is the right word for multiple Colossuses but my spellchecker didn’t complain and it’s what the game calls them, so anyway…). This has put my save at around 40 minutes, so I’m not really that far in yet.

First impressions are, generally, more positive than they were with Ico, but I can see this possibly becoming dull if all the fights are this similar. The graphics are (mostly) of lower quality than Ico too, and although the giants are well animated, the main character jerks around like he’s got some sort of muscle disorder. Controlling the horse is a right pain too, and I’m not overly keen on the “use the sword to find where you need to go” thing, but that’s a minor point.

Ico (PS2): COMPLETED!

Having redone the bit after losing Yorda, I found there wasn’t much of the game left. There were some more platformy bits (oh, and I figured that you can pull the block around while you swim with the O button), and then I found a new sword that gave me the statue-moving powers of Yorda. Then, I ended up back in the room you start the game in, with loads of shadow things to kill.

It was then that I realised something – the shadows are all horned too – just like Ico. And they all came from the “pods” like the one Ico was in at the start. So they must be all the previous horned boys from times past!

Killed them all anyway (one swipe of this new sword does it) and then it was off to kill the queen, who was pretty easy (once I’d figured out what was going on, anyway) and that was the end of the game! Well, except for the bit after the credits which I won’t mention as it’s a spoiler. My completed save says 7 and a half hours, but redoing sections means it’s nearer 10.

What did I think overall then? Well… it was good. Much better than I expected, and certainly better than it started. I didn’t like having to drag Yorda round all the time, there are problems with the controls, fighting, camera and such, but the story and atmosphere and the actual puzzles and platforming make up for it.

Now, if they’d make a game without all the annoying bits and more of the good bits, that’d be ace!

Ico (PS2)

Finally managed to get past all of the waterfall section, and then it was all easy for a while. Made it into the West Idol place, where the puzzles to get the reflector working were much easier than in the East Idol place, and then there was a short section before returning back to the main gates.

Yorda opened them, but sadly, our rush for freedom was cut short by the shadow queen woman, and I ended up losing Yorda, my sword, and seemingly fell to my death.

I wasn’t dead, of course, but I am stuck. I’ve made it into a big flooded area where I need to get a block from one side of a river to the other, but I can’t seem to figure out how to do this. Worse still, is that I can’t save my game at this point, so I had to switch off knowing I need to backtrack somewhat. Bah.

Ico (PS2)

Gnngh! Although it looks amazing, and the puzzles are great, some of it is far too frustrating to be fun. For example, today I reached a waterfall, and there’s a door which is locked. Ico can scale a wall and climb over, but Yorda can’t, so Ico has to find a way to open the door. So I left Yorda, wandered round looking for a switch, and got so far from her she got nabbed by shadow thingies and Game Over.

So I tried again, and found a switch just the other side of the door hiding off-camera.

It is also annoying that sometimes you can go miles from Yorda and she’s fine, and other times you just leave her in one room, then seconds into the next room she’s been kidnapped. And you have no way of knowing if she’ll be safe or not, or how long for, or how far you can go.

Also at the waterfall, there’s a chain you have to jump onto, but the camera means you can’t judge when you’re in line with it, so you invariably fall to your death. And have to go back miles and try again. And again. And again. Seriously – my saved game progressed from 4 hours to 5 hours today, but I played for more than two hours. ANNOYING.

Ico (PS2)

Having to redo the last bit no less than SEVEN times because I was one millimetre too high or low on the chain I had to jump from didn’t really help endear this game to me any further.

However, I will persevere more. After all, it can’t be as bad as Kameo, and I completed that.

Thankfully, the next section was much more enjoyable. I came across a tower with a reflector behind it, and had to solve some puzzles to open three huge doors in the tower to allow the light from the reflector through, so as to activate one half of the main gate for the castle. It was a bit of a pain having to leg it back from a switch as Rubbish Yorda had been nabbed by shadow things again, but never mind.

I do have a sword now, though, which makes it easier to kill them! Sadly, it didn’t save me from them knocking me off a ledge to my death some ten minutes after the tower was complete and I’d made it back to the room where I’d blown up a bridge earlier in the game. So I’ll have to do all that again. Grr.

Ico (PS2)

I’ve lit all the fires near the gate, and that lets me now light bombs to blow up a blocked path to a cemetery. There, I had to fight a million more shadow things (which I hate having to do). Afterwards, I entered a room where I couldn’t reach the door, but finding another route led me to a chain I could jump onto and pull down, which raised the floor. Raised it too high, I might add.

So I spent ages trying to find how to get up (and died twice, and so had to re-do the room) before realising you could swing on chains and so I could swing and jump to get up.

Then there was a windmill, where I had to jump and grab a sail while it went round, jumping off at the top, before getting to a sort of garden with some water and a sewer thing. Took me ages to figure out I could get Yorda out of the sewer by just lifting her through a hole, and i didn’t have to push blocks I couldn’t get to into the hole instead. Pff.

Then there was a lift, and more shadow things to kill (one of which threw me off a tower so I died, and had to repeat a bit again), and then finally made it to a huge chasm that I could shimmy across, but Yorda had to wait behind. This led to back into the garden, where the blocks I couldn’t reach previously I now could, allowing me to reach a new route which led to a chain I could grab and then jump across to a switch to (I assume) let Yorda across.

Except you can’t jump from the chain to the switch as you can’t jump that far (even with swinging), so I fell, died, and have a good 10 minutes to repeat again. Rubbish.

Ico (PS2)

Sssssh! Don’t tell anyone, but I played it some more this morning. I mean, if it’s really this amazing classic, I can’t go giving up after the first hour, can I?

Well, it hasn’t really gotten any better, as such. I’m getting used to the controls, which is helping, but yanking Yorda (as he name has been revealed to be) around isn’t fun and killing the shadowy things is just plain rubbish. However, the puzzles are pretty ace, even if it did take me faaaar too long trying to figure out how to make a bridge collapse, before realising that not only could you light your stick on fire, but there were bombs around and you can pick stuff up.

Now I’ve reached the gate, and was about to escape, when it closed and Yorda’s mum came and said not to take her away and stuff. Or something.

Ico (PS2)

About 5 years ago, Ico was the most amazing game ever. Well, it was if you read the right reviews, anyway. Lots of people have told me that I can’t be a proper gamer if I’ve never played it. Almost everyone seems to say it is fantastic, a real experience, and one of the best games ever made.

So today, I played it for the first time ever.

You know, in all the time I’d read about Ico, I never really knew what it was about. Guy with horns needs to escape from castle meets girl puzzles happen… that’s it. Oh, and there’s no HUD or anything. That’s all I knew.

Two of the things I hate most in games are crate puzzles in games that are not crate pushing games (so Sokoban = Good, but in Broken Sword 3 = Bad) and escort missions.

Within ten minutes of starting Ico I had this nasty sinking feeling. I found the girl, and now have to escort her. Everywhere. For the entire game. And, with some crate-pushing (but not puzzles – yet) already, things do not bode well.

Other problems: the combat is meh, the fact the girl can’t do anything for herself is annoying as you have to drag her everywhere (and when you have to leave her for a few seconds, she gets nabbed and you can’t get back to her quick enough), and there’s some strange hazy pixel effect on everything so it looks like an old MegaCD Cinepak FMV game. Yeah, the graphics are great, but you get the feeling the pixelly thing is covering some sort of hardware limitation.

Oh, and when you die, you got back miles and have to do tedious crap again.

So no, I’m not enjoying it. I spent an hour on it and didn’t really like any of it. I’ve been told on rllmuk that if I don’t like it yet, I’m not going to, so I’m thinking I might just give up now rather than sit through the rest of the game. Probably.

And triangle for jump just seems wrong.

Sega Classics Collection (PS2)

This was just £10 in HMV today, and as I looked at the back and realised that Tant-R seemed to be, in fact, the western version of 2DO Arukotowa Sandoahru – something I didn’t know existed – so I bought it.

Went through most of the games giving each a quick play. They’re a real mixed bag, with some (such as Tant-R and Virtua Racing) being little more than ports of the originals, whereas Golden Axe is a full 3D remake (although sadly, crap, as the levels are too long and the baddies repetitive) and Outrun seems to be somewhere between the two.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2): COMPLETED!

By selecting the best weapon prior to mounting the on-foot attack of the Martinez Building after the chopper assault, I found it much easier this time around. The Spaz shotgun is most excellent when many baddies are in close range as it takes them all out at once.

After that, I had to shoot down another helicopter, and finally there was a three-way showdown on the roof – the remaining Mendez brother, Martinez, and me. And it was easy, they died, and I won. Hurrahs!

After the credits, I spent a while taking over businesses, but that got dull in the end. I’ve got about 85% of them or something though now.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2)

I’m pretty certain I’m on the last mission now. All the other storylines in the game are getting wrapped up – Phil Collins had his gig (during which I had to run round the lighting rigging and stop people cutting through it – shame), Reni went from he/she to just she and flew back to Europe, Gonzales has left Vice City (and I had to protect him on the way to the airport), and one of the Mendez brothers is dead. And so is someone on “my side” (but I won’t say who as it’s a spoiler).

So Diaz suggested I go and nick a Hunter (i.e. Apache) helicopter from the army base, so I did. And then I used that to blow up lots of people in “The Martinez Building” (gosh – I wonder who might be there?) but then died on the next bit because the stupid controls prevented me from selecting the right weapon. The fact the mission is called “The Last Stand” kind of implies I’m at the end, yes?

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2)

Done loads today, including: protected Phil Collins (no, really) from gangs, built up more of my empire, found out Lance and Louise have been nicking all the drugs, killed a load of people who wanted to blow up Phil Collins (again, but it’s understandable), taken part in more stunt driving (on a jetski) for Reni at the studio, played golf (sort of), collected all the remaining required cars for the impound, chased Lance’s helicopter in a hovercraft, saved Louise from Martinez (the army bloke), and all sorts of other things.

It’s growing on me now, but I still keep thinking – “It’s not as good as San Andreas“.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2)

Eventually, I managed to take down the antennae. It wasn’t all that difficult once I’d figured out where the stairs to the roof of each police station were, so I could park my car as close as possible.

However, I then spent the best part of an hour finishing that mission, as I had a 5 Star rating upon escaping from the last station, and to complete the mission I had to drop that down to zero. Whilst being chased by another helicopter which seemed to cause my helicopter to veer all over the place.

I knew where one (and only one!) police bribe pickup was (near the very first safehouse you get), but couldn’t remember where any others were. Flying around didn’t really help too much either, as low down you get shot at by the police, and high up you can’t see any pickups. And I didn’t want to land as then the chasing helicopter would shoot me down. Luckily, I remembered there was a bribe outside the golf course, and managed to pick that up, and then remembered there was another near the airport. I snatched that just in time too – my helicopter blew up almost as soon as I landed it and the drop to just two stars and a pipe to hide in meant the police chopper flew off.

Finally, I ran back to my safe house and changed clothes to drop to no stars. Hurrah!