Millions of Birds, Several Colossi

Because I am bad at scheduling my life, the interview with Wilder was post-poned to accomodate a prior engagement: crafts and music at the Doug Fir Lounge. Angela works with a girl involved in a small crafting-collective who have just released a 300 page book of DIY craft projects, and as part of the release they staged an event at Doug Fir. Bands, some sort of I-think-it’s-performance-art appearance by AC [something], eBay Powerseller. I’m not entirely sure about the details.

We showed up, had some food in the not-so-crowded upstairs lounge, Angela said hello to the girl she knows, and we watched a three-piece band named Millions of Birds play a set. Keyboards, drums, guitarist/effectsnerd, with the keyboardist singing some of the time. Good, but sort of sedate — nothing to end up whistling after, more music than “songs.” Certainly worth the free cover, though.

And I spent about four and a half hours playing Shadow of the Colossus yesterday (which experience was made possible, on release day and without a pre-order, by my man on the inside — Nick, I salute you). And it is good. The game is, so far, as advertised: travel via horseback across an expansive and beautiful (but deserted) landscape, and engage in epic fights with various Colossi.

And it’s really, really epic. They have done something with this game that borders more closely to art than video games usually get. These Colossi, as strange hybrids of stone and fur and animation, are convincingly huge and powerful to a degree that embarasses most if not all “big boss” fights I’ve ever played. The scope of the monsters is stunning. The battles are more a matter of problem-solving and navigation than typical button-mashing attack-and-retreat combat — the Colossi are not just in the arena, they are the arena.

The effect of these huge fights is wonderful, and justifies what is otherwise an almost unforgivable lack of traditional gameplay: you’re just fighting the bosses. Ride around on your horse until you find the location. Climb around the location until you find the Colossus. Fight the Colossus until it dies. Repeat. It’s unusual; it’s even unusual compared to the spiritual parent, Ico, where there was at least a sense of constant tension throughout the levels as you balanced your navigation of the Castle with your need to protect the Girl from recurring shadow-monsters. There is none of that (so far, at least) in Shadow of the Colossus — just a series of quiet journeys punctuated by stupefyingly out-scaled battles.

It’s really great.

Author: Josh Millard

I manage and help moderate the community website MetaFilter, where I go by "cortex"; in my spare time I get up to all sorts of creative nerdery on the internet and in Portland, Oregon.

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