|Dev: Team ICO|
|Release: September 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
There are few games that warrant a rerelease. Strike that. There are few entertainment experiences that warrant a rerelease. It's a small crowd. The original Star Wars trilogy could be counted among the small few, though truth be told, Han always shot first in our hearts. To be counted among the few works of art that warrant this special treatment is a real honor. Two such games that will be receiving this honor are two PlayStation 2-era titles from Team ICO, Shadow of the Colossus and Ico. In this article we'll focus our attention on the latter.
Released nearly ten years ago, Ico is a truly rare game that actually innovated in ways that some games to this day are just catching up to and it begins with the story. Ico opens with a scene of our nameless horned protagonist being led by the warriors of his village to a lonely castle surrounded by a moat and accessible by one sole bridge. Believed by the people of his village (none of whom were believed to be construction workers) to be a bad omen, he has been banished to this castle, destined to pass his days locked away in a sarcophagi slightly more roomy than my first apartment. A small quake allows our hero to break free from his tomb and the fun ensues.
The real fun and innovation came from the gameplay involving the main character and Yorda, a girl who, at the beginning of the game, is all but helpless. Yorda needed to be led by the hand from place to place and was defenseless. This meant that she needed constant protection from the shadowy creatures (the souls of other horned children who weren't fortunate enough to escape) that would come to claim her periodically. These factors led many to dismiss the game as one long escort mission, thereby relegating it to the status equal to that of a mini-game collection today. Gamers who did that completely missed the premise of Ico, and if you're one of those gamers, now is a great time to make up for a stupid mistake.
Ico was much more than an escort mission. As Yorda progressed, she would eventually even offer to assist when she could help. The real focus wasn't on the game being an escort mission but on developing the relationship between the boy and girl in this story, as well as the underlying issues tied to the girl's mother, who wasn't too fond of our hero and his antics.
As with the high-definition version of Shadow of the Colossus, Ico HD runs in 1080p at thirty frames per second. Sound is output in 7.1 surround and trophies are enabled as 3D. The way the engine rendered the environments is a true testament to the fidelity with which the original models were created, as, according to the PlayStation representative I spoke to, none of the models themselves were updated. In fact, the only thing that was changed was the display resolution. If that's true, it's particularly impressive, as the only real problem I had with the graphics were some of the blurry textures that could be found inside and around the castle, though none of them were major, either.
My playthrough was assisted by helpful advice from the PlayStation rep who quickly picked up on the fact that I hadn't played this game for quite some time. As with Shadow, the classic control scheme has been preserved and it's difficult to get used to if you haven't played the originals in a while. Jump is mapped to triangle, attack is mapped to square, and interacting with the environment is taken care of by pressing circle. R1 can be used to grab objects like stone weights or chains. It's also used to call out to Yorda if she's far away or to hold her hand if she's nearby.
One key difference between this game and Shadow of the Colossus is that the gameplay is focused on puzzle solving and exploration, with a main objective of escaping the confines of the castle and securing your freedom and Yorda's. Look forward to hearing more about Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and more as we continue this week's coverage of E3 2011 here at CheatCC.
CCC Contributing Writer