Well, folks, it’s been a good while, hasn’t it? The good news is, I’ve beaten a game recently (believe it or not), and it just so happened to make the cut for a WCG. On this dreary Sunday morning, I felt compelled to sit down at my newly beloved desk, and pour my heart out, as to why this game has made it into my top five games of all time. Ladies and gentleman, this…is Shadow Of The Colossus.
Before we jump in, I bought this game years ago. Well, a year or two ago. Either way, it’s been in my backlog for quite some time now, and after abandoning a game I wasn’t a huge fan of, I felt it was finally time to try SOTC out, once and for all. SOTC has been a very well received game for many, many years now. Originally a PS2 title, and then a remastered PS3 title, followed by the final remake by BluePoint Games. The Gods of remakes and remasters. Game reinstalled, I fired it up to see what all the fuss was about.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting Indian-style on the carpet of my neighbors living room in upstate New York, 2 feet away from a tube TV, I was playing my first video game. Mario Bros./Duck Hunt. With an orange plastic “gun” in hand, I was aiming at ducks flapping their way out of tall grass. A barking dog would often try to distract me. I was having fun. Perhaps fifteen minutes later, my neighbor-friend probably switched to Mario Bros. and handed me the rectangular controller of the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m sure I had to wait my turn of course, as it was his system. I remember dying often in the game. Here I am controlling a Italian plumber, jumping and head butting floating bricks. These are video games? I pondered. It wasn’t long before I knew there was something special about this idea of planting yourself in front of a television and immersing yourself in a virtual world. From there on out, I started my life as a “gamer.”
It’s been a little while since I’ve written to you, but the COVID-19 situation has been fruitful for my gaming habits. While I’m fortunate enough to be working still, my forced quarantine has allowed me to fire up games more frequently than I have in a long while.
I normally don’t write one of these until I have completed a game, however, with God Of War, it was simply too irresistible to ignore. Folks, I am in love with this game, and I must tell you all about it as soon as possible. Most of you may know by now, a game really has to pack a punch and grab me in a way that will hold my attention long enough to play more than thirty minutes and then shelve it. Let’s just say I’ve played a lot more than thirty minutes of this masterful game. Well, without further ado, I am going to try and express why God Of War is shaping up to be one, cool game.
Hoo-Boy. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. One of my most beloved games of all time. How do I honor this masterful title with a measly Will’s Cool Game article? I honestly don’t think I’m going to be able to capture, in this short write up, why this game is not only one of the coolest games around, but also why it could be my favorite game of all time. There, I said it! I said could be. Calm yourselves. Folks, let’s find out why I’ve spent a good portion of my life roaming the lands of Skyrim with sheer joy and wonder, and why I will continue to do so as long as I’m a gamer. Without further a-do, I have one thing to shout. FUS-DOH-RAH!!
Folks, where do I begin with this one. The one and only, Metal Gear Solid. Arguably, this very special title is regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time, and for good reason! In so many ways, this classic shaped the way we play games today, and certainly the way stealth is implemented in game design. From the polygonal visuals, the blurry faces, the outstanding and remarkable soundtrack, the revolutionary game design, the insanely robust characters, to one of the best stories ever told, Metal Gear Solid gets my stamp of approval for a cool game. Let’s dive in and find out why this experience holds such a special place in most gamers lives. This, is Metal Gear Solid.
You’ve been continuing to grow while I’ve been continuing not playing you.
The past few weeks have been a little hectic, and I haven’t really done much gaming at all since I returned home from my trip to Orlando. That was nearly a month ago at this point. I’ve barely touched Octopath Traveler, or Doom (2016), or anything else.
It’s kind of shameful.
In lieu of an update on my (non) gaming habits, I’ll take a look at some of the new things happening in the world of gaming.
I grew up watching plenty of anime. Classics such as Akira, Ninja Scroll, Dragon Ball Z, Wicked City, etc. Animations were fluid, story lines were compelling and outlandish, and they all oozed style beyond your wildest imaginations. I suppose I never imagined video games to look and play like an anime. Well folks, I’ve discovered a game that has taken everything that made those animes so special, and wrapped it all up in a little package. Once unwrapped, you will be rewarded with a magical game called Gravity Rush 2. Welcome to another edition of Will’s Cool Games.
Where to start? Gravity Rush 2 is truly a unique gameplay experience to say the least. Released on the PS4 in January of 2017, players control Kat, who at first, at least with the games opening sequence, is an expert miner, mining shiny green orb things known as Gravity Ore. After a turn of events, your mining suit is stripped away and you find yourself escaping the mine with a friend named Syd. What’s going on? Why am I so nimble, who am I following, really? Questions arise as you escape the mine and find yourself on a floating world known as Banga Village. Things unravel quickly as you run into prominent characters and get your bearings. As the prologue unfolds, you discover the abilities that quickly turn into staple navigation methods. Here’s where controlling Kat gets really cool.
There’s a reason why this game earned the title of Gravity Rush 2. Kat’s “superpower”, if you will, is manipulation of gravity. With the tap of a button, players can launch Kat into the air at any time and can “missle” her into enemies and objects, as well as travel to what you thought was an unreachable area. Is it a rush though? Absolutely! Kat’s hair blows in the wind as you experience the thrill only Superman and Iron Man can endure. Yes ladies and gentlemen, your dreams of flying through the air as a female anime character and owner of a black cat have come true, finally. Ok, so maybe your dreams of launching through the air to escape traffic have come true. Sort of. Tell me more about the cat, Will! Kat’s cat, heh heh, is named Dusty, and is a cat shaped “Guardian” who grants Kat the ability to shift gravity. There are three gravity styles in Gravity Rush 2. An original style introduced in the first game, Lunar, and Jupiter. Lunar is a lighter mode that has Kat’s jumping and speed ability cranked up to suit the situation. Jupiter is a heavier setting better suited for attacks with impact in mind. You switch between these with the PS4’s touchpad. In a lot of instances, you look and feel like a massive wind tunnel is blowing you away and you cannot do anything about ending this experience. Sounds horrible, right? Wrong. Not when you’re Kat.
I’ve got a cat companion that has galaxy fur, and I can shift gravity because of Dusty the cat, but why? What’s the motive, here? Well, without revealing too much of the plot, you’re on this floating township of Banga, you befriend a girl named Cecie, and you work to mine gravity ore, traveling around gathering supplies for trader’s and so on. The plot is fairly involved, and truthfully I have not finished the game (no surprise here), but honestly, the plot isn’t the selling point here. It’s the rest of the package. I shouldn’t say rest, as this game really is made up of it’s gorgeous, fluid, anime-come-to-life visuals, engaging soundtrack, and the outrageously fun gameplay. Gravity Rush 2 is truly breathtaking, and the soundtrack that encompasses what you’re experiencing on screen is nothing short of marvelous.
Speaking of soundtrack, the main menu opens with trumpets commanding your attention, upbeat orchestral power punches ensue, followed by sweeping melodies of violins and Spanish sounding horns that leave you inspired to do laundry, and do it with passion. What a jam packed introduction you’re blessed with at the title menu! One minute I’m at a orchestral concert on a hot summer’s night in Barcelona, the next minute I’m being swept away by John William’s. Man, what an intro. Arriving in Banga, you’re treated with pan flutes, a shakuhachi perhaps, some kind of Japanese flute, damnit! An acoustic guitar (I think) lightly strumming away, all kinds of neat sounds that fills your ears as you traverse this floating village. Pause the game and you witness a series of Kill Bill-esque silhouettes of Kat’s signature moves. Shadows of Kat dance around behind the game’s menu options as you suddenly realize you’re playing the coolest game you’ve ever played. Well, certainly one of them! This game truly oozes style and finesse that often isn’t this prevalent and unique. From a presentation perspective, I give this game, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 11. Yep, an 11.
Let’s circle back to the gameplay here for a moment. You’re probably wondering about combat perhaps. Are there weapons of any sort, are you fighting anything? If your guess was gravity enhanced attacks, you’re mostly right. However, Kat has some pretty cool ground combat arts too. Let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s talk ground, or arena style combat, first. Kat has a series of kicks up her sleeve that would make the likes of Van Damme and Hwoarang a tad bit jealous. Outside of kicking, rolling, and a few jump attacks, Kat’s main source of dealing damage is with her gravitational blows. Once in the air, Kat chooses to sort of charge up, and hurl herself legs first at the enemy ahead, dealing a gravity infused drop kick, if you will. It’s pretty clever, and is a simple concept when viewed for what it is. It’s satisfying, and fits the game’s main mechanical vision, perfectly. Kat also wields the ability to use her inner Jedi powers to manipulate objects in the world such as crates and heavy objects to hurl at her foes. This can be a ton of fun when you think your enemy has seen it all. Raven, another gravity shifter like Kat, is an ally you’ll tag team with frequently, primarily when battling bosses. There’s just so much to cover, so I suggest just buying the game. Now. Right now. Then thank me later.
There’s a lot to do in the world of Gravity Rush 2. People to meet and interact with, missions to complete, bosses to fight, upgrades to find, etc. There’s an active pulse while running through villages filled with characters galore, from vendors to jugglers, to birds in the street and noises of dogs and geese strolling around. The world is beautiful most of the time, and at times quite grim, given the situation. Cutscenes are engaging and the way the conversations are handled is like a comic book that you can control by playing around with the dualshocks motion engine. For example, when in the midst of one of the comic book style conversations, you can tilt your controller to “move” the pages. Subtle, touch, but still super cool. The infamous speaker on the controller is used here, too, and sounds bleed through it when you least expect it. But at the end of the day, it’s not so much about the details, even though they certainly don’t go overlooked, it’s about the gameplay and the presentation that’s injected into the whole package. I’m really looking forward to playing more of it, and hopefully completing it in a respectable time frame. Yeah, I know, good luck, Will. I can hear it already! But on a serious note, this game was over shadowed and perhaps ignored by most, but I strongly encourage you to at least try it. I also hope this examination of the game gives you just a hint of the coolness that’s present with this title.