Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection hands-on preview

Upscaling last-generation’s best games is a trend we can get behind, especially if they’re all handled with the love and care that went into the God of War and Sly Cooper HD collections. Sony’s latest expedition into the past has brought back Team Ico’s critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 games: Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, both of which could use a little cleaning up for the current generation.

After getting some hands-on time with the titles, an opportunity we’ve anxiously awaited since word came of their release, we’re happy to report that they’re more whimsical and wonderful than ever before. Bumped to 1080p, outfitted with optional stereoscopic 3D (so long as you have the TV and glasses for it), and granted the added bonus of Trophies, it looks like it’s going to be one of the best HD compilations yet.

Any worries that their transfers would suffer in the slightest can be put to bed; both games flawlessly ace the test of time. We played the opening few areas in Ico and crumbled several colossi in Shadow of the Colossus, and after becoming reacquainted with the games’ unique controls (triangle is jump—why is triangle jump?!) we found it incredibly difficult to put the DualShock down.

Ico, being the older of the two games, suffers slightly from blurry textures and lighting issues, and features more loading times than we’re used to seeing in modern games. This might not have been all that noticeable when Ico was released in 2001, but in 2011 it feels strange when we crawl out a window and the game loads. Despite these admitted nitpicks, the game looks and feels magnificent in HD. The characters, in particular, pop out of the screen, even without putting on glasses and activating the 3D.

When they developed Ico for the PlayStation 2, Team Ico put a lot of work into building the relationship between the two main characters. It’s important to like Yorda, or else it won’t be as distressing when enemies try and take her away. Now, with the game running in 1080p, we found ourselves even more attached to the mysterious characters, literally shaking as we fumbled to save her when she was grabbed by enemies—and that was only after a few minutes of playing.

And for as much as Ico benefits from the HD conversion, Shadow of the Colossus takes to it even better. It has some of the same lighting issues and blurry textures, but the character models look absolutely fantastic, and the colossi are utterly awe-inspiring. After running up the large, stone sword of the third boss, climbing up its hairy arm and shoving our sword into its rune-inscribed head, we realized that we had completely forgotten that we were playing a PlayStation 2 game. The part of our brain that we told to pay attention to the differences had shut off. It wasn’t just easy to do—it was impossible not to.

We’d be lying if we said that we were surprised by how much we enjoyed our time with the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. We knew we would. Anyone who has played either game knows how much they stood to gain from being converted to HD, and we’re happy to see that the developers have taken the time necessary to make sure they look, play, and feel as wonderful as possible.

Aug 10, 2011

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