When not fighting, horseback provides the quickest means of transportation. While realistic, the unresponsive nature of the horse is aggravating, and it seems out of place given the fantasy nature of the title. You'll also need to constantly jab away on the X button to make him run faster (and then deal with his awkward turning), an unnecessary step and just another way Shadow of the Colossus can be frustrating. You'll also be fighting an awful camera system.
Hardware issues continue to stall the experience. While there's a stunning motion blur when moving quickly, it's only hiding ugly, bland, and pixilated textures. The Colossi, obviously killing the aging hardware, lead to critical frame rate gaps. Their designs, no matter how masterful they are, don't compensate for the gameplay issues they cause. The barren landscapes offer little color, which sets the tone wonderfully. It also makes distant areas tough to discern. That leads to lost time exploring areas you already visited, simply because you couldn't see the same area from a distance.
It feels as if the design team had the concept of something new, and took it further than it should have went. In the end, they've pushed the hardware too far, created an awful control setup, but also crafted true gaming art. With a complete lack of enemies less than 100 feet tall, it's the freshness of Shadow's ideas that will draw in a sector of the hardcore gaming crowd. Everyone else will be left baffled, confused, and frustrated.
Shadow of the Colossus is a rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Fantasy Violence.
(*** out of *****)