Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Muddle Earth Too

Review:  #279
Title:  Muddle Earth Too
Series:  Muddle Earth - 2nd book
Author:  Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  This book parodies so many books that it’s amazing, there’s Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Twilight and (less obviously) His Dark Materials, amongst others.  Throughout the whole book, it doesn't take itself seriously, which was the aim, so in that aspect, it succeeded.  I can honestly say that the beginning was a mess and was very boring; it was hard to pick up all the characters since so many were introduced (especially if you haven’t read the first book).  I lost interest early on but thankfully, the events afterwards made more sense and were a bit more interesting.  The book is further split into three books (in likeness to LOTR), and each of them can be regarded as a separate story that has an overarching plot.  The plot itself is very basic, what made the book more fun and interesting was the puns and parodies of other literature, with some very well known and obvious ones like fairy tales.  There are some very obvious plot elements, but the authors managed to hide the aim of the true protagonists, the Flower Fairies (but when it is revealed, it’s underwhelming).  The illustrations (which have a unique style) are a nice complement to the story.  If you like over the top and silly humour, as well as some stupid fun, then it’s good.
Rating:  6/10

Thursday, November 29, 2012


One that I have been wanting to watch, yet haven't found the chance yet.  It intrigued me somewhat, how can they make a movie based off a game?  Oh, with an alien invasion.  While it's not original, it did peak my interest.  After the movie ended, I can say that I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would (considering the numerous negative critical reception the movie received), and I would watch it again if I had the chance.  Yes, there are a few flaws but it's easily overlooked.  Many events were bordering on the near impossible and typical film cliche where it just works.  The beginning was somewhat slow, and I don't think it made too clear of the time frame (except that you know when it cuts to the present).  The chicken burrito thing was pretty funny (even though others in the audience didn't share my weird sense of humor).  You sit there waiting for the aliens to appear and it takes a while, but at least once they do appear, it's much more interesting.

Too bad they opted for humanoid aliens, I guess it makes sense since they come from a similar plant to Earth.  Still, if they have elements that's not in our periodic table, what's to stop life as we "don't" know it.  The aliens are absurdly powerful and advanced in technology, so they are intelligent beings, yet they do get out-maneuvered constantly by supposedly inferior beings.  It doesn't explain too properly how their targeting systems work, they aim for the mechanical man-made structures and weapons, but leave organics.  Although they then hunt them out later on, or in the latter part of the movie, the weapons system just stop...  Furthermore, they should have expanded on the backstory of the aliens (and cut out some crap in the process), all we know is that possibly they are in a war torn world and they learn of this world from the message.  They then send a convoy to check it out and possibly invade and take over by sending back a message... yeah...?  No clue.  I mustn't have paid much attention.

Seriously, I did find the aliens interesting and wanted to know more about their motives.  The feel of the overall movie is very Transformery, from the alien technology (emitting similar sounds and the movement of parts) to the style of the narrative and the score.  I'm sorry, but it did feel like a rip off.  You would expect something based off a board game to reference it in the movie right?  Maybe a forced scene or just a cameo shot of two guys playing the game, but no, what they did was very clever.  I won't spoil it, but it was intense, and I didn't realize it until the scene was nearly over, very very clever (don't look out for it though, otherwise you'll spoil it for yourself).  One thing that is ridiculous is the way they obtain the last ship, extremely improbable, it would have been stripped yet they still found ammunition?  If you think about it, it was a cruel movie with many deaths due to the sinking ships (if gave you a despairing feel).  The ending definitely leaves out an opportunity for a sequel, it's all but definite.  A worthwhile movie to watch, the story is coherent enough to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Red Centre

Review:  #278
Title:  Red Centre
Series:  Alpha Force - 5th book
Author:  Chris Ryan
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  An excellent novel.  Basically, most of the book takes place around a hostage siege, and that part was suspenseful.  The beginning was strong (although how the protagonist recognised the terrorist and was so certain might be stretching it a tiny bit), and it keeps a brisk pace.  There’s barely a dull moment, and all the time, you’re left wondering what is going to happen next.  I love how the author incorporated elements of survival here; it makes for a very interesting read.  Plus, most, if not all, is probably real actions that you would take in situations such as those mentioned.  Once the siege was over and the terrorist escaped, it wasn't as grounded to reality.  You see the cold hearted determination of the killer, but we don’t get to see what he is aiming for.  What was his objective, where did he want to escape to.  There are numerous brutal moments that would temporarily shock you, just when you least expect it.
Rating:  7/10

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: Just Disgusting!

Review:  #277
Title:  Just Disgusting!
Series:  Just! - 5th book
Author:  Andy Griffiths
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  A bit below par than normal, but still an interesting read.  The illustrations were some of the worse, and overall, the book does feel like a more lazy effort than others in the series.  The illustrations were more to do with the story, and not the random fun laughs that we get, this makes it blander and easier to ignore.  The stories themselves are taking shortcuts, with many of the text being different font size and a lot of repetition to make up the page count.  Sure, it might be funny the first time it’s used, but it’s used too much, and in other books as well.  Most of the stories aren’t really disgusting as such, just weird and stupid.  Then again, the short stories are the greatest variety in the series yet.  It’s good if you like the series but it doesn't really excite you.
Rating:  6/10

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Just Stupid!

Review:  #276
Title:  Just Stupid!
Series:  Just! - 3rd book
Author:  Andy Griffiths
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  A pretty interesting book, and like the title suggests, most of the stories are pretty stupid.  I mean, having one that has the classical “it’s only a dream” at the end, that’s surely different.  The illustrations were more of a distraction rather than a complement to the story, and most of the time, they were very… well, just stupid.  A few of the stories were boring and knowing that they were going to be shallow didn't really help.  One thing that you’ll feel is how unfair it is sometimes for the protagonist, Andy.  Why?  Coz it seems that whenever he is about to achieve something good, it always go back for him, and that’s really quite sad sometimes.  The Page Number Snail provided some good laughs, and some stories are more inventive that you would have expected.  I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend this, but if it sounds interesting, it’s definitely worth a read.
Rating:  6/10

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

Review:  #275
Title:  The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Series:  The Mysterious Benedict Society - 2nd book
Author:  Trenton Lee Stewart
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  A fairly fast paced and intense book for the most part.  Half of the book is spent with the protagonists heading to destinations to look for clues on where to go next.  It feels like The Amazing Race, but better, since the clues required some thought in order to understand them.  Some clues were very easy and typical, while others were slightly better (but still a bit weird and forced).  There are a lot of unusual things in the book, such as how characters act and the thoughts of the characters, which doesn't do the novel any favours.  I found the constant display of Constance’s ability to be overdone, and although Milligan is hyped up to be the most resilient and resourceful man ever, you never get to see him in action.  It’s just, he did this and he just did that, this makes him overrated.  Mr Curtain, the antagonist, along with the rest of his crew, the Ten Man, never feels much of a threat or having the right balance of malice and evilness.  The plot isn’t exactly the most original, but it was done well for what it was.  You would be hooked to finish the whole book just to find out what happened.  I would have loved it if the background of Benedict’s parents were explored more, especially about their discoveries.  It seems there would be a lot of interesting tidbits, but none would be fleshed out to their full potential (and some details that were iterated a lot, yet was never important in the whole book).  Nevertheless, this is a solid book to read for passing the time (if a bit too long).
Rating:  6.5/10

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: The Eyeball Collector

Review:  #274
Title:  The Eyeball Collector
Series:  Tales From the Sinister City - 3rd book
Author:  F.E. Higgins
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  I was hesitant towards the books from this series, since although The Black Book of Secrets was good, but The Bone Magician and especially The Lunatic’s Curse were so so (and didn't serve as a sequel in the conventional way).  However, They Eyeball Collector has a lot more references to the first book of the series, and that’s where it cements itself as a more conventional sequel.  Even though the main character is different, it’s very interesting to see how Hector’s life has changed and the things he discovers.  You can’t help but feel his anger when misfortune happens to him that shouldn't have happened in the first place.  You want him to succeed in his revenge.  During his time at Withypits Hall, some things were repulsive, and it kept your interest.  You would hold your breath as it seemed Hector was likely to fail at times.  In the end, you feel empathy for the original villain, since it was circumstances that drove him to the way he is now.  Although riddles form a fairly large part of the book, some were old news and done before (I had read it in Deltora Quest amongst other books already), but some were still entertaining.  The plot is excellent once it gets along, and I like the appearance of someone from the first book, it added a nice touch.
Rating:  6.5/10

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Diary of a Wimpy Vampire: Prince of Dorkness

Review:  #273
Title:  Diary of a Wimpy Vampire:  Prince of Dorkness
Series:  Diary of a Vimpy Vampire - 2nd book
Author:  Tim Collins
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  In truth, this book is probably somewhere between 6 and 6.5, but I thought I’ll just be more conservative.  Anyway, this is a great sequel to the first book, and just like it’s ‘source material’, this sequel has another supernatural being come and take the main character’s girlfriend away.  Yup, a werewolf comes, and it shares much of the same lore (albeit in a funnier version) as New Moon from the Twilight series.  It feels more like a parody of Twilight than Diary of a Wimpy Kid now.  The usual events happen in that the girl wishes to be transformed a vampire and then when she gets rejected, jumps over to the werewolf.  However, just when you thought you can guess what’s going to happen, it suddenly changes and turns over a new leaf.  I found that very refreshing, the book manages to deviate yet stays similar, very well done and kudos to the author.  The funniest thing here is that the book makes fun of the lore, but still uses it partially.  It’s take on werewolves was funny.  The ending isn’t what you’d expect, and hopefully, there’ll be a sequel.
Rating:  6/10

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dynasty Warriors 7

So, you're either going to hate this series or love it.  If you fall into the former, it would be wise to stop reading now as nothing's going to change your mind, while if you're the latter, then Dynasty Warriors 7 is the best game in the series to date.  There is a lot of content, and it'll take a while before you can get 100% completion (although, to be honest, it can be very tedious grinding for 100%).  Obviously, the first place to start would be playing the story modes, there are four Kingdoms this time, Shu, Wei, Wu and the newly introduced Jin, which ends the Three Kingdoms era (previous games didn't go too far).  One thing's for certain, even though it's the same story as the previous games, the way it is presented is a million times better.  It was very surprising when I found myself caring for the characters, and actually feeling sad whenever an important character died.  A bulk of the story is still told via a map of China with character portraits, arrows and a voice over, but then you will be presented with some cutscenes, and this was where the game really excelled.  While still crap compared to other games, this is the pinnacle of story telling in the Dynasty Warriors series.  Some criticisms however is the voice actors, most of them lack emotion and badly synced (if at all), the character models lack expression (and their eyes are dead), and some very cliche moments (the death scenes being the biggest offender).

In terms of game play, it is what you would expect, being thrust into a battle, rack up kills (often more than 1000) and kill the enemy commander to end it.  The battle system ditches Dynasty Warriors 6's (terrible) renbu system, and we get the charge system from pre-Dynasty Warriors 6.  It's much better and much more fun.  The developers added in a few tweaks which actually made is more refreshing and different.  It doesn't feel like a complete old tread.  In case you don't know, they've added in weapon changes in the middle of a battle, a basic skill tree for each character, seals (which are basically upgrades) that you can choose and special unique attacks.  They did enough unique movements per character in order for them to not feel like a perfect clone.  While the character roster is huge (I think it's at 62), there's only 36 movements, and most of the characters that you use in story modes using similar weapons (so it's a really refreshing change when you get one that doesn't use a sword).  There's some ridiculous weapons too, flying swords?  A gun?  A giant paintbrush?!  Seriously, wtf?  There are some gimmicks added in during battles that doesn't completely work, such as using catapults, they break the flow, and feel very awkward.  It can feel unbalanced at times, especially with the power of the musou attack (a special move), very easy to recharge but way too powerful (can often take down 1/2 or just one-shot k.o. a boss), while normal attacks do relatively very little damage.  There is a point in the game where it gets very draining and tedious, since it can be repetitive.  It's also a tad on the easy side, so play it on Chaos difficulty to make it slightly more interesting when battling soldiers (otherwise it's just usually a one-hit KO, although this means you'll probably get a large kill count, it doesn't hold the same appeal after you've played through 50+ stages).

Obviously, the graphics are the best in the series, but it won't wow you.  The draw distance can still be limited at times, and enemies love to pop in, at least the frame rate doesn't drop when the screen gets busy.  Furthermore, the stages have added in a new dimension, there's now height involved.  This gets extremely annoying when you have to try and find a way up to the top, and you up circling around for like five mins, boooooring.  While the music is still similar, but I've noticed that it suits what's happening onscreen a lot better.  A lot of the scenes in story mode made a lot more impact due to the music, and the music also changes during battle to suit what's going on, a nice touch.  So, after you've finished the story modes (around 25 hours), there's the Conquest Mode.  While it's not exactly a Free Mode, it's similar, but it's a massive grind (which, after I went through the story modes, I was not up to it), and most of the trophies are related to this mode.  Overall, I think it's a decent game, at least with Dynasty Warriors you know what you're getting into, so why complain and push it down when you don't like it?  There's a lot of subtle improvements in this installment, they story modes were great, and while game play can get tedious if you constantly play it, it's a good time waster and to be honest, which other game can let you destroy over 3000 enemies in the space of twenty mins?


Other game reviews can be found on this page.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception

Review:  #272
Title:  Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception
Series:  Artemis Fowl - 4th book
Author:  Eoin Colfer
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  When I had first read Eternity Code, I thought at the end of it, there’s no way there’ll be a sequel, what with the main character losing all his memories.  However, the author has pulled through yet again, with a very plausible explanation.  Most of the book is spent with the character trying to reclaim those memories amongst attempts at his life, and it’s exciting.  The brilliant plan at the end was excellent, and the type that’s typical of the Artemis Fowl series.  It would have been even more awesome if there was less time spent with Artemis with no memory, but what can you do.  It was an exciting voyage from start to finish, and a pleasure to read.  The humour was great, but less jokes than previous books.  The death at the beginning was a reeling blow, you would not be able to believe it, after all, it was the death of such a pivotal character, and one that you would have grown to love.  What’s more, Holly being blamed for some things she didn't do, it could have been an easy way out with her just sitting around waiting it for clear, but nup, the author took the harder (and better) way of having her solving the problems of now, and eventually clearing her name.  There are some ingenious moments in the book that you can’t help but admire.  A wonderful entry to the series, although rereading might not bring as much enjoyment as the process to reclaim the memories loses the suspense and anticipation.
Rating:  7/10

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: Slimy Stuarts

Review:  #271
Title:  Slimy Stuarts
Series:  Horrible Histories
Author:  Terry Deary
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  This was a new additional in which it included a Quiz (with answers) and an Index at the end.  Honestly, I can’t say it adds too much to the book.  This was an interesting glimpse into the Stuarts, there’s a lot of good information here, presented in a fun and quirky way.  There are a lot of puns here; some so bad it’ll still give you a chuckle, while others are noteworthy.  The illustrations complements the text well and also a large source of the humour.  One complaint is that in one of the attempts at mimicking a handwritten note, it was hard to decipher the curly writing.  One of the better Horrible Histories book out there.
Rating:  6/10

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

One of the best games on the Playstation, and a great platform game in it's own right.  The classic formula still stands the test of time and I had a blast playing through it.  I only had experience with Crash Bandicoot 3:  Warped and while that game has a ton of new features, I found Crash 2 to be more imaginative and creative.  The obstacles were more clever, and the paths more interesting.  It could be just that I've played Crash 3 to death...  Anyway, one thing's for sure, the boss battles are terribly easy, it'll require only a few attempts if anything.  The N Gin boss fight felt a bit primitive considering how clunky it felt and looked when Crash shot those wumpa fruits.  The many animations of Crash were a nice touch, from how he looks behind him in fear when a huge bear's chasing him, the winks and smile when he's about to jump onto a smaller bear (to ride on) or his sighing when you leave him alone like he's sick of you making him die so many times.  I've seen reviews where they said the settings were limited (I think around nine distinct environments) but I didn't think that was too much of a problem, still a lot of variety here.  The enemies were interesting, and I loved how some enemies can only be defeated using a specific attack (spin, slide or jump).

The music was great but yeah, that was a little repetitive, but it suited the game so well that I can hardly fault it.  The controls were smooth but some of the platforming aspects were annoying, in some areas where you had the view of viewing behind Crash, and were jumping on small platforms, it's easy (especially in the first few times) to misjudge the distance and fall to your death.  The graphics were great, considering it's age and the hardware limitations of the time, very pleasing to the eye and hardly any rough edges.  The collecting aspect was done well, with a few optional collectibles that is actually pretty challenging.  There's some pretty unexpected and interesting ways to get these collectibles.  Then there's the secret levels, areas and boxes, whoa, they're hidden really well, which makes it that much more fun to rat them out.  The story is weak, it's here only as an excuse to string the levels together.  The words can be hard to hear too, making the characters hard to understand (most of the story is only comprised of short speeches from holographic characters...).  This is a great game providing a lot of challenge, yet it's easy enough to have a lot of fun with.


Other game reviews can be found on this page.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Book Review: Finders Keepers

Review:  #270
Title:  Finders Keepers
Series:  Finders Keepers (not official name) - 1st book
Author:  Emily Rodda
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  It began as a fairly bland and uneventful book, even when the main character, Patrick, was dragged into the alternate world, it didn't get too interesting.  A lot of things felt stock standard, and you could guess, with confidence, at what was going to happen.  However, once it got to the end, you can’t help but get a warm fuzzy feeling inside, and be happy at the ending, happy that everything had sorted itself out alright.  The riddles were not very well formed, especially compared to the author’s latter works; they felt downright crude and clunky.  You don’t feel the time pressure for each task the character has to complete, since there’s nothing for the main character to lose and because the book is so short, that nothing is fleshed out completely anyway.  Either way, I had fun reading the book, particularly near the end, where, as I mentioned, was the best part of the book.
Rating:  6/10

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

The game is not exciting, nor does it have an amazing story or smooth gameplay, yet I find myself strangely wanting to go back and continue onto the next section.  I wouldn't use the word addicting to describe it, but I just felt compelled to continue onto the end.  I won't say it's the masterpiece or 'best game ever' as other people have been calling it, but it's different and very enjoyable.  If you don't know what Ico is about, then I would call it a puzzle platformer.  You control Ico with two basic moves, jump and attack.  I disagree with whoever said the puzzles lack the cleverness of more recent games.  I thought they were very well done, the difficulty of the puzzles were balanced, they were hard enough to provide a challenge and easy enough so that you won't get frustrated as you slowly try and work it out.  There's a sense of satisfaction after solving each one.  For some reason, I felt that God of War's puzzles have a similar feel to Ico's, however, Ico's puzzles doesn't feel contrived and is much clearer on how to attempt them.  I really like how the objects you need to interact with to go to the next section doesn't feel out of place, or stand out a lot.  The graphics are impressive too, considering that the game was released right after Playstation 2 had launched.  My breath was taken away when Ico was running along one of the outer walls and you could see the environment outside of the castle, it was stunning.  The mysteriousness of the castle environment as you explore a good portion of it, and the good subtle use of music and sounds, it does create a nice atmosphere.  On that note, I would recommend playing it in a quiet surrounding, with no one else around, to truly enjoy the game and what it has to offer.

Then there's Yorda, the sense of mysteriousness and the feel that you have to protect her from the shadow monsters right from the start is unlike anything you've played before.  You start to feel the bond between the two characters grow and care for their fates.  Every time the shadow monsters come out, you get a short thrilling moment where you feel you must defeat them before they grab Yorda.  The way they creep and the wispy nature of them portrayed their nature very well.  Considering that there are only really three story cutscenes, it's a fulfilling story experience that feels that it had gone for much longer.  Rather, the time spent while you're solving the puzzles and exploring feels like extending the story.  While the story is simple, it has it's charms.  The controls can be clunky, not too much of a problem, but if you're going to aim for the 2 hour speed run trophy, it's going to be annoying.  I don't know who thought it was a good idea to put in that trophy, because you only have a buffer of fifteen mins from a perfect run (takes around 1 hour 45 mins if you were pretty much perfect), and that includes unorthodox shortcuts.  You'd probably need a video guide in order to complete the game in that short a time (as well as multiple attempts for various areas).  However, it's not as frustrating as it first seems and it's kinda satisfying when the trophy finally pops after all that effort...   Yorda may seem cute with her actions while you're playing it leisurely, once you try for the speed run, it's a whole new level of frustration as her AI is not that great for this kind of stuff.  You'll hate her with a passion

I loved how there's no UI in which it shows health and all that stuff, the simplicity of it makes the game much more impressive.  The camera navigation takes some getting used to.  The ending sequence was excellent, in terms of both how it executed and how fitting it feels.  I loved the theme song "You Were There", it suited the mood a lot.  Wished we had a longer ending though, would have loved to see what happened after that last scene.  That said, they really needed to have placed another save point nearer to the end, often in my first try, I died some stupid deaths (I knew what to do, but for some reason, Ico would just die, the platform elements that involved jumping sucked) and it was very annoying starting 'that far back'.  Sadly, the replay value isn't that great due to the nature of the game, since you know the puzzle solutions already, you lose the moments where you contemplate on a new puzzle, and the game becomes significantly shorter.  Either way, an amazing game that provides a very different experience.

Shadow of the Colossus:
While Ico's gameplay is more quiet and gives you a fragile feeling, Shadow of the Colossus gives you the complete opposite.  I was surprised at the striking difference, Shadow is more of an action adventure game than Ico ever was.  I'm sure you know what the aim of the game is, but if you don't, it's just basically tackling 16 bosses in a row, with travelling and optional exploring in between.  Don't be fooled though, if you take your time, it'll last long enough for you to feel you've got your quantity of play time.  It took me 10 hours to finish it the first time, and that's without doing everything that I could have done.  I found it fascinating how the game manages to survive on what is basically just boss battles.  You don't get lesser enemies to practice your skills on, right from the start, you're thrown into fighting the Colossi.  While it's true that with each Colossi you defeat, the next one is harder, even the first time takes some time to study and figure out what to do.  I love how the game manages to train you without making it obvious.

In the first few battles, the way to figure out how to get onto those things and then climb up to stab them is fairly straightforward.  In later battles, the puzzle element kicks into place, and you gotta figure out which specific actions (whether it's luring the Colossus somewhere or just waiting for the opportune moment to shoot an arrow) you have to do in order to create that opportunity for the next stage of the battle.  Naturally, these puzzle elements in the later battles are harder to figure out, and you'll probably get stuck for a few moments.  Usually after a while, a hint is given, but even these are given cryptically.  These puzzle elements makes it much more satisfying once you've defeated the Colossus, it makes you feel like you've completed a huge challenge.  The designs of the Colossi are amazing, their aesthetics radiate mysteriousness and power, you get the feeling that these beings are akin to divine beings.  No matter how different each Colossi is from each other, they share similar design elements, and this gives a sense of cohesion and consistency.  It's the sense of overwhelming power that makes you feel kinda scared to meet the next one, not knowing what to expect, but you also feel the urge to find it, to overcome it.  It's a very nice balance.

That said, the normal mode of the game is somewhat easy once you've figured out the puzzles, Wander (the character you're controlling) rarely receives fatal damage in the battles (unless somehow you didn't manage to dodge the heavy attacks), not complaining though, as each battle is epic enough already.  The fact is, it doesn't frustrate you, it makes you want find out more.  Anyway, onto the story, there are more cutscenes and plot points presented here when compared to Ico, but it's still fairly bare.  There are still basically three points in the game where you get major story elements (beginning, middle and end), but what's in between is very predictable.  What you basically do is find the Colossi, scale it, defeat it, and you're returned to the middle of the land, where the cycle begins again.  Perhaps the best part of this is that you have all the skills you need to defeat the Colossi right from the start, it's a basic set, this makes it very interesting when you're puzzling over what to do next, as it makes you use those skills differently each time.  The ending was interesting (and the final Colossus battle does not disappoint, it gives off a solemn and despairing feel)  The area is varied enough to be interesting, but gives a sense of emptiness (but doesn't take away your breath, the Colossi does that instead).  The graphics are good but the music!  It has some of the grandest and more appropriate music I have ever heard, the music that plays when you're actually on the Colossi, it is unmatched by anything else (in other games or movies).  I fell in love with it instantly, very very impressive, I highly recommend just checking out some of the "~Battle with the Colossus~" songs from the soundtrack).

The controls, however, take A LOT to get used to.  Wander himself isn't too bad, you just have to adapt the way he grips and scales, as well as jumping while you're gripping something.  Agro, his horse companion, is another story.  While as a companion, he's very likeable and care for him, controlling him is a nightmare.  Basically, once Wander is on him, the controls are not typical, the left sticks actually controls his reins, while it's more realistic, the execution of this aspect is very frustrating.  Turning him works most of the time, and once you're on a narrow path, you can just let Agro make his way along it, but if it splits or you need to direct him more towards where you want (and especially in a forest), he just stops, or turns around, it's very annoying.  Wander's jumping mechanics aren't that great, considering it is a compulsory part in one of the battles.  The Platinum trophy is ridiculous, there are two trophies for finishing the game on normal and hard, then for each mode, there are also two trophies for completing the Time Attacks (basically, killing each Colossus within a time limit), and then for another trophy, you need to complete the game for something like 4-5 times.  That's just overkill.  Anyway, this is a great game, very exciting, the Colossi are majestic, and overall, just amazing that a game as grand as this could be conceived.

Bonus Content:
This Collection boasts five 'exclusive' videos, they total to around 40-50 mins or so, it's not that long.  It's behind-the-scenes stuff, and if you liked the game, it'll interest you as they talk and explain some of the things that happened.  Perhaps the gems are the three videos showing prototype versions of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.  Ico is interesting since it was initially planned for the Playstation, and it's insightful to see how the familiar environments of the Castle looked on Playstation hardware (although most are pre-rendered concept scenes).  It was also interesting to see that Shadow was initially planned as an online game.  There are two XMB themes you can install if those are your thing.  Very awesome that they bothered to include these extra content.

Worthwhile package especially if you haven't played those games, to see what all the talk was about.  They are very different, one is a quiet and peaceful game, while the other is more action orientated, both have numerous puzzle elements.  The music is amazing, and the extra content is just icing on top.  These are not the type of games for everyone, but it's very unique and different.


Other game reviews can be found on this page.

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