Shadow of the Colossus. But also:
Look at it, readers, look at it. Isn't it a glorious thing? Yes, it is an invitation to my boss's bonfire night party. Social acceptance: at last. Next: personal hygiene.
In other news, GAMES. Lots of them. My biggest problem is going to be not buying Quake 4 (PC), not because it's good (Kristan says it's really straightforward a-to-b, seen it all before stuff except with less tactics and more brown), but because I tend to buy Quake games on impulse 255. What should I do?
Also, Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2, Xbox, PC) is out. We're familiar with this, yes? It's good. Very good in fact. Yesterday I lined up a Beckham free-kick, it hit the wall, and Gerrard followed it in with a 30-yard half-volley into the top corner. It was Olympiacos all over again, as I told my Spanish opponent.
Probably worth starting again in some sort of order, so let's fall back on an old standard: PC owners have the most to celebrate this week, what with a version of PES5, Football Manager 2006 (PC, Mac) injecting another dugout-load of features and refinements, Quake 4 and the hugely enjoyable F.E.A.R. (PC). As a long-time fan of Monolith's work (Shogo was one of the first things I ever wrote about, fact fans), it's nice to see them get something so right. It's not about what's become the staples of the genre - like last week's Serious Sam 2, this is all about the act of shooting. Not since Halo have I seen people enjoy basic rooms-full-of-enemies quite as much, nor have I myself. Okay so it's all grey and that doesn't really let up, but I've never blown this many chunks out of grey.
Budget-conscious Xbox owners aren't doing too badly either, with a very reasonably priced port of Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (Xbox) along with straight-to-budget Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox) - and of course PES5, although only the HMV scammers got that one cheap. Along with PS2 owners, Xboxers can also get stuck in to Rockstar's The Warriors (PS2, Xbox), which looks set to buck Rockstar's trend of scoring 7 or so for everything that doesn't have Grand Theft Auto plastered all over it. Sam Houser said it wasn't for "idiot savants", which doesn't make much sense to me, but presumably means it's accessible. Ellie likes it, although she's not sure if that's because she loves the film lots, she's an idiot savant, or it's good. Consensus is it's the latter, so we'll get back to you on that. When we get there, you stick close by, okay?
Even Cube owners can take in this year's delights on the slopes in SSX On Tour (PS2, Xbox, Cube) meanwhile, which despite its failure to really do anything monumentally new is still utterly enjoyable and should last and frustrate you more than a nymphomaniacal globalisation protester. Although that's pretty much where the fun ends for Cubists, at least until Fire Emblem comes out in a fortnight (woo!).
Beyond the cluttered delights of the past few bold bits, we've got the likes of Buzz!: The Music Quiz (PS2), Genji (PS2), and Pokémon Emerald (GBA). Genji may delight you even if you have a pathological aversion to hackandslash type stuff, precisely because of that in fact. It's geared toward accessibility, its vibrancy is inspired, according to creator Yoshiki Okamoto, by the rather excellent Hero, and it's about the very first samurai. Buzz, by turns (in fact actually by turns), may delight you if you have a stupidly vast knowledge of useless music trivia like Kristan. It has Boxing Day Fun written all over it, or at least it should do. (It probably actually has things like "8/10 SIX THUMBS UP!!!" written all over it.) I've no idea about Pokémon Emerald though, sad to say, other than it's an extension of Sapphire and Ruby, which only came out a couple of years back.
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) though.
Just galloped over the US horizon. I shouldn't need to tell any of you that it's what the chaps who did ICO have been doing since, but I am delighted to say that it's a liiiittle bit good. It gets the sense of isolation absolutely right - you're in a land on the edge of the world, tackling creatures of such vast proportions that you'll be lucky to get them entirely framed up on-screen, and you shouldn't by rights stand any chance. When you first find a way up, when you first nearly lose your grip, when you first plunge your sword into a colossus' glowing weakspot, and, frankly, whenever you repeat any of those feats, it injects something new into that special bit of your heart reserved for those experiences. The concept's as singular and, on first impression at least, as well realised as ICO's, and I really can't imagine what else I'm going to do this weekend. Except maybe play ICO again, just to make my heart cry.
And probably play Quake 4, since I'm weak.
- Buzz!: The Music Quiz (PS2)
- Counter-Strike: Source (PC)
- Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (Xbox)
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (PS2)
- Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox)
- F.E.A.R. (PC)
- FIFA Football 2006 (PSP)
- Football Manager 2006 (PC)
- Genji: Dawn of the Samurai (PS2)
- Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex (PSP)
- LA Rush (PS2, Xbox)
- Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (PSP)
- NASCAR 06: Total Team Control (PS2, Xbox)
- NBA Live 2006 (PC)
- Pokémon Emerald (GBA)
- Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- Quake 4 (PC)
- Rengoku: The Tower of Purgatory (PSP)
- Shattered Union (PC, Xbox)
- SSX On Tour (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Tecmo Classic Arcade (Xbox)
- The Warriors (PS2, Xbox)
- Top Spin (PS2)
- UFO: Aftershock (PC)
- Vietcong 2 (PC)
- WRC: Rally Evolution (PS2)
- X-Factor Sing (PS2, PC)
- X3: Reunion (PC)
Key US Releases
- Age of Empires III (PC)
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (Cube)
- Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2)
- Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
- Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without A Pulse (Xbox)
- Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (PS2, Xbox, Cube)