Shadow of the Demos

October 6, 2005

Given the number of games I play, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that trying them out is almost as much fun as playing them all the way through. There’s no pressure to succeed, you get to enjoy the start of the game (which in many cases is the best part), and there’s a big wee factor to new experiences.

Republic Commando –
Squad-based Star Wars shooter. Quite the genre combination there, huh? While I didn’t have an interest in playing it through, I snagged it from Gamefly to give it a try. I made it through the first five levels or so, and while I wasn’t overly impressed it was a good experience. You take on the role of a Clone Trooper, an Arc Trooper in the Grand Republic Army. You’re tapped as the leader of a four-man squad and your team takes on some dirty, low-down assignments fighting against the Separatist threat. Gameplay is typical console FPS, with typical controls. The switch-up is your interaction with your squad. There are points where you can give orders to your troops, utilizing their special abilities. One is a tech specialist, one is an explosives expert, and the third is a sniper. While this game could have been one long escort mission, the intelligence of your trooper’s AI ensures that you’ll have plenty of backup. Even in just the few levels I played it was intriguing to me the flexibility the concept lends itself to. Infiltration, straight-up assault, sabotage … all the standard things you’d find in a Rainbow Six title are in Republic Commando with a zany Star Wars twist. Which is interesting to me, because I don’t really have an interest in most Tom Clancy titles, with the unequaled Spinter Cell an obvious exception. Actually, now that’s a game I’d like to play. Spliner Cell in Star Wars. Oo! As Mara Jade! Lucasarts owes me money now.

Shadow of the Colossus –
I played through Ico a long, long time ago. The Summer of my post-college abyss was a lengthy one, and I played a lot of PlayStation 2 games while I was getting my life in gear. Ico was the first game I played all the way through on the console, and as such still has a place near and dear to my heart. The evocative storyline, the beautiful graphics (it was 2002, okay?), the gameplay, the design … it was like no game I’d ever played before, having mostly been a Nintendo and PC guy until that Summer. The sequal to that almost forgotten time of summer gaming is near to hand, and I’m so glad that I’m going to get my hands on it. The Demo for Shadow of the Colossus is very short, consisting of a small temple, a narrow canyon, and a wide plain in between. The Demo gives you a great feel for the controls of the game, which are tight and intuitive, by allowing you to climb up a rock face and race your horse across the rocky plain. Crazily, the thought that struck me while playing the game was what an intensely cool console-based MMOG the engine would make. That’s a topic for another day, though. In any case, once you’ve made it across the plain and climb up the rock wall, you find yourself in a narrow canyon down which is trundling a massive leonine-headed behemoth made of stone. One of the titular Colossi. In order to destroy the beast, you have to climb the creature like a small mountain and stab it in the brain. Though it takes a little while handling the controls in a stressful situation to get yourself to the thing’s head, the experience is exhilirating. Each colossus has a different weak spot and a different design, so the game will require different tactics in order to take each one of the titans down. I am extremely enthused by the possibility of getting into this game … there are going to be fewer and fewer PS2 games to play before the next iteration of console is released, and I’m very ready to slip into Shadow’s reality.

That thought is a sobering one, that my college graduation gift will soon be relegated to obsolescense. There are precious few PS2 games left in the console’s lifetime that I’m looking forward to … Okami, Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts 2. Here’s looking at you, PS2.

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