Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I have to admit my biases; Shadow of the Colossus is possibly my favorite game ever, and Ico is high up that list, so I've been waiting with bated breath for whatever masterpiece Fumito Ueda has been cooking up to be unveiled. Last year, E3 went by, and nothing. Then, Tokyo Game Show (where SotC premiered four years prior), and still nothing. Then, Ueda went on to speak at this year's GDC where everyone thought for sure his new game would be unveiled, and STILL nothing. All we had to go on was a job ad for his studio portraying a chain going down a hole. And now that they've finally released some actual footage of something, I have to say, I'm a little underwhelmed.
For starters, it looks a little too much like a mix of the previous two games with little originality emerging. The boy appears to be a dead ringer for Ico, and the creature bears a resemblance to a certain colossi. The fact that they're friends is new, but again, it looks a bit like Ico, where they swap Yorda for a colossus. Neither of these are bad things, exactly, just a little less than I was expecting.
Furthermore, the aesthetics looked quite a bit worse than what we saw in Ueda's previous games. I loved the simple, elegant cel-shading of Ico and Yorda, and the new fully 3D modeled character just doesn't resonate as well. He looks a bit blocky and goofy to me. The creature too looks a bit too clean and majestic; a bit at odds with the crumbling, ruinous tones of the world.
Speaking of the world, it looks very similar to what we saw in Ueda's previous two games, but perhaps a little too glamorous. For example, there are ruins, but they stretch out as far as the eye can see, which makes them appear a bit cluttered. As such, it lacks that lonely, minimalist, somber feeling that was so prevalent in Ico and SotC. The music, too, was a bit cheesier and more generic than what I'm used to from Ueda's games. It's like they took everything that was great about Ico and SotC and Disneyfied it (flashbacks to The Neverending Story certainly spring to mind. And apparently I wasn't the only one who though that, according to my mates on Twitter). Then again, there's no telling if that's the final music (or character models, or anything, really), so that could all likely change, or at the very least, make more sense in the context of the final product.
Obviously, I'm a bit biased, as I had unreasonably high expectations, and was disappointed. That being said, I'm sure the final product will be amazing nonetheless. Even if it does look too much like a retread of his previous two games, that's still a world that I love and wouldn't mind going back to. And as far as it being a cliched story of a boy befriending a giant goes, I must say that one of my favorite films of all-time is The Iron Giant (and I recall recoiling in horror at the trailer for that movie as well), so this could well be absolutely amazing. I was particularly intrigued by the shot of the creature swimming through a tunnel with arrows jutting out of its back, implying a level of violence only hinted at here, but will be made apparent later.
Make no mistake, I'm still woefully excited about this game. Even if I found that this particular teaser trailer fell a bit short of my expectations.
Edit: After watching the trailer a few more times, I've come to the conclusion that the creature looks great, but the kid still looks pretty bad. Notably his cartoon face in full HD, which just looks a bit silly. Here's hoping they fix that before the final build.