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Gamasutra's Top 12 Games of the Decade
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Gamasutra's Top 12 Games of the Decade

December 30, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

4. Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2, 2005)

Team Ico's and Fumito Ueda's Shadow of the Colossus contains a simple goal -- a warrior must find and slay a series of gigantic beasts -- but its gameplay manages to inspire complex, often conflicting emotions in the player.

Christiaan Moleman, Ubisoft: "If I had to go with the game that most impressed me personally it has to be Shadow of the Colossus. No other game so captured life in its interactive inhabitants... from Wander's trusty steed Agro to the majestic Colossi that you must slay without remorse or pity.

"Yet it is just this you feel when you send these giants tumbling to the ground. Not victory, but guilt. Surely this can't be right? Yet still you persist until all that's left is the unshakable sense of purpose that finally brings the last of the Colossi to its knees, saving one and cursing another. All the while, you're having too much epic fun to realize you're playing a tragedy.

"For this, and for a gameplay defined by the close moving interaction between living breathing characters - something games continue to struggle with - this is my game of the decade."

Damian Hernaez, Globant: "This game conveys more meaning through mechanics than any other one I have played the past decade."

Kelly Tweten: "Shadow of the Colossus did something no other game has done for me: it made me feel bad about what I was doing in the game, but enticed me to keep doing it through pure artistry.

"I think it deserves to be considered the game of the decade, primarily because it points the way towards what games should strive to be in the next decade. If games are to reach their full potential as an art form, we need to embrace more meaningful topics and work harder to elicit emotional responses.

"Shadow of the Colossus does that, and it does it without compromising gameplay. For all the praise it's gotten for being cinematic, it is unquestionably a game and has the impact it does because of how the player is involved. It's the player who chooses to kill the colossi, the player who tries to run from consequences actions and that is absolutely critical if we want to create truly moving games."

Mathieu Marquis Bolduc, Ubisoft: "From the art direction, the music, the tone, the story and even the gameplay, I think it exemplifies games as a work of art."

Thomas Grip, Frictional Games: "I did not have the most fun playing this game, but it was a very emotional experience at really stuck with me. Also, the choice to skip any normal kind of 'normal' gameplay between the colossi fights was very daring and successful choice.

"Other games might have filled the game with puzzles or minion slaughter, but in Shadow of the Colossus the designers want you truly immerse yourself in the world and made the really feel like a personal journey. This kind of design was also evident in the controls, where realism and immersion was higher goal than making it fun and easy to get into. Never has a horse felt so real to control in a game and it made me so much more attached to it.

"Finally, the game is a technological wonder with astounding physics, AI, and graphics. This technology was also used amazingly well by the artists creating extremely beautiful and unique look All combined, Shadow of the Colossus is unlike anything else released and truly a one-of a kind experience!"

Sjors Jansen: "The one button grab/hold mechanic of this game makes the inherently annoying third person camera obsolete. Which makes it the only one that can compete with traditional 2d games as far as player focus is concerned. IMHO the lonely sole saviour of third person camera gaming. And it has a nice atmosphere to boot."

Devon Carver, ArenaNet: "Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most wonderfully designed games I've played in the last 10 years. The controls themselves seem to have been well thought out and connect you all the more deeply to the experience of the game. Requiring you to hold down the shoulder buttons to continue gripping the Colossus you are on creates a physical connection to the visuals.

"I've rarely been as emotionally attached to a character as I was to Agro by the end of the game and not because of cutscenes telling me to be, but because he was always there following me as the only companion I had. The game is truly amazing and the visuals that were coaxed out of the PS2 still stand up. It's an outstanding example of design, storytelling, art, and all the other aspects of good game making brought together into a fantastic whole."

Luke Icenhower: "It is more of an expressive art concept than a video game, as the graphics and story were some of the most amazing for their time. At the same time, the game played differently from any other, with the main character being a mere human with a sword and a bow, challenging these epic colossi and nothing else."

Theo Tanaka: "When I was younger I had that feeling of wonder when I watched my cousins playing the NES, and only this game could pull this same sensation. It's a mysterious title, with dramatic camera angles and wonderful challenges. To me, the experience provided by a game is what matters in the end, and Shadow of Colossus is the one that amazed me the most in this decade."

Nicholas Rotondo: "Shadow of the Colossus is an undeniably unique game that implements its story, music, and art in new, innovative, and deep ways. Colossus’ most powerful attribute is that it twists the expected narrative in order to dislodge the player from his or her usual gaming disposition, thus prompting an effect within the player that can reach beyond the game experience itself."

Derek Gildea: "I've always felt that this title stands alone because of the way it tells a story. Fumito Ueda, the game's creative director, is known for being a minimalist as far as dialog is concerned. I think he has figured out better than anyone else how to use places to tell a story in parallel to the typical character-driven plotline.

"There's a tale of love and self-sacrifice in Shadow of the Colossus (and it's a good one) but beneath it there is a second, more subtle narrative being told which is powerful in its own right. Every place Wanda goes on his Colossi-slaying quest he sees the ruins of an ancient civilization. Pretty standard fare for a fantasy game, granted, but the game is special by the fact that somehow it makes me care.

"When I play the game, I get the feeling that the forbidden realm is actually real; that it has a history. I used to spend hours wandering on the horse and just looking at the crumbling old buildings. I imagined what sort of people could have lived in this place. I felt more entranced by the narrative of a mere setting than I have with the main story-arc of many a tittle. The power of Shadow of the Colossus to tell a story without words, in the way that only video games can, earns it the right to be called the called the Game of the Decade."

Jason Kiser, Cornerstone Solutions: "No other game world can match the majesty of Shadow of the Colossus. No other game has elicited genuine emotional response from me as a player to the degree that this game did at two key points in the story. No other game (in my completely amateur programming opinion) pushed the limits of the machine running it like this game pushed the PS2. Simply put, Shadow of the Colossus is the only game I played this decade that I thought was perfect."

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