Gaming’s art gets a restoration
While maybe not one of gaming’s most pressing questions, it is still a point of contention among many in the industry: When videogames are remade, is it harmless pandering to nostalgia, or is it hurtful to an entertainment medium that needs more originality and freshness in its output, not less?
I walked away from my time with The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection at least sure of one thing—if there is an argument for remakes, this collection sure as hell is it.
That thought didn’t come right away, possibly due to my surprising lack of shock when presented with ICO’s new high-definition polish. Not that HD ICO doesn’t look vastly better than its original PS2 counterpart—because it absolutely does—it’s just that visual quality was never a point of complaint when I experienced the game years ago. For me, returning to this world—and to Yorda—my happiest moment was instead getting to play the “final” version of ICO that other territories received, but which we North Americans had been denied until now.
Instead, it was Shadow of the Colossus where I found myself unprepared for the impact of the work that went into improving Team Ico’s past efforts. I wanted to love the experience of playing Colossus on my PS2 so many years ago, but the uneven—and, at times, brutal—frame rate made that difficult. It was a game before its time; an idea betrayed by hardware that wasn’t yet ready to handle what it was being asked to do. Now, the vast landscapes that you maneuver your faithful companion Agro through shines with a beauty that could only be hinted at previously. As the gigantic Colossi appear before you—intricate in detail and texture, moving through their environments unencumbered by frame drops or overtaxed graphical engines—the realization of what you’re taking part in comes to you in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. Colossus HD isn’t a re-release; the original PS2 version was just the tease.
On a technical level, The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection is like many other similar remakes—two previous-generation games where the audio and video have been beefed up, but where those games still won’t be mistaken for true current-generation projects. It’s also a collection that is about so much more than higher resolution textures or added Stereoscopic 3D—it’s about finally doing justice to two proud moments in the history of our hobby.
SUMMARY: The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection brings two fantastic games to players in the way they were always meant to be experienced.
- THE GOOD: Two fantastic games that now look as good as they play.
- THE BAD: The length of time between Team Ico projects.
- THE UGLY: My rage at controllable cameras that won’t stay put.