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Deja Review: The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

We're of the firm opinion that your time is too precious, too valuable to be spent reading a full review for a game that was already reviewed many, many years ago. What's the point of applying a score to a game that's old enough to be enrolled in the sixth grade? That's why we invented Deja Review: A quick look at the new features and relative agelessness of remade, revived and re-released games.

It would be difficult to think of two games that have so unanimously been labeled as masterpieces by gaming critics and consumers alike than Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Each possesses a unique beauty possessed by (regrettably) so few other games: Ico with its sense of childlike wonder and grand adventure, Colossus with its abject desolation and foreboding. They're poignant, and sad, and (fortunately for Sony and Team Ico) inimitably timeless.

The Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection pairs HD-remastered versions of the two titles in one tidy $40 package. Their visual revivification -- the most substantial improvement over the PS2 originals -- isn't quite as thorough as ground-up reconstruction of Halo: Anniversary or the total reskinning of Ocarina of Time 3D. But it's certainly enough to make these once-beautiful games even more staggering.

Gallery: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (Gamescom 2011) | 14 Photos

What's new this time around? Both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus look absolutely stellar when compared to their predecessors, thanks to a 1080p overhaul and the addition of stereoscopic 3D support. They don't really stand up under the scrutiny one would normally apply to their PS3 contemporaries -- jaggies, pop-up and poor collision detection still pop up at infrequent intervals, particularly when roaming the rolling plains of Colossus' open world.

Still, it's easy to forgive the tired engines which prop up Ico and Shadow of the Colossus if you have the context required to see the vast improvements an additional generation of gaming hardware has allowed. So much detail that was embedded in each game's respective world was lost in the fuzz of the PS2; and can now be seen with renewed, crystal-clear vision. Performance slowdown, which plagued the original Colossus' more intense battles, is eradicated.

The disc also includes a number of interviews with the games' creators, as well as slideshows featuring concept art and early renders from each title. These are compelling not just for Team Ico enthusiasts, but also for folks who believe they're owed an explanation for the original Ico's North American box art.

How's it hold up? Admittedly, Shadow of the Colossus has withstood the test of time with much more poise than its companion piece. The things that made Ico magical are still pretty darn magical, but the past ten years have brought about so many improvements that are notably absent in the studio's flagship game. For instance, the AI which puppeteers the game's constant companion Yorda seems desperately antiquated by today's standards.

Shadow of the Colossus, on the other hand, is still one of the most remarkable video games ever created. And with its newfound buttery smoothness, this is undoubtedly the best way to play it. If you've already toppled its sixteen guardians many times over, it's still worth diving back in to see the considerable polish the game has received since its original release in 2005. If you've never played it, my envy of you knows no bounds. You are in for an unreproducible treat.

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