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Tarn
March 10th, 2006, 06:50 PM
First off, I apologise to all Ico fans. I know there's a fair few of you out there. I'm actually asking for your assistance, though, in helping me understand what I'm missing with regards to the game.

Having seen recommendations all over the place, and having enjoyed Colossus for the most part (http://www.sffworld.com/grevoff/82.html), I decided to check out Ico, especially as most people seem to rate it as being slightly better than Colossus.

To be honest, I'm utterly perplexed. At first I thought I wasn't into the game yet, that maybe it had a slightly dodgy start, or that I simply hadn't 'got the hang of it' yet. But that thought is rapidly turning into an active dislike for the game.

This is rather perplexing me, as I've always considered myself to be very open and enthusiastic when it comes to unusual, more 'arty' (for want of a better word) games.

The main culprit is probably the camera. It's the most godawful camera I've ever encountered in a 3rd person game. While 3rd person games can often have slight camera issues, Ico takes it to a whole new level - it's like it is specifically designed to always point in exactly the opposite direction to where you want to look.

Making it even worse, the camera angle often changes or the axis alters without warning, resulting in the controls being suddenly reversed. Not very handy when you're attempting to race against time to save the girl.

Even ignoring the camera, the gameplay itself seems fairly generic and uninspired. Seems to be a very standard collection of ledges to edge across, jumps to jump, crates to push, buttons to press. I was expecting innovation and daring design (which Colossus definitely succeeded), instead I have a rather sub-standard Prince of Persia (admittedly Ico is an old game now, but I woudl have expected it to hold up better than this in the gameplay stakes).

Combat with the shadowy creatures is irritating at worst, and dull at best. Due to unresponsive controls, I find myself comitted to another swing of my stick, when I actually want to be diving for cover. This results in my getting knocked on my ass, after which I have to wait several seconds before I can get up again - by which time the girl has been snatched, and it's time for another game of "trying to outwit the arbitrary camera".

On top of all this, there's the girl. Having to protect AI characters is often a low point of other games, due mainly to dodgy AI - often getting themselves killed through no particular fault of your own. Ico fares better, mainly due to being more forgiving - you always have a chance to pull her out of the void, so actual failure is rare. She still so far seems to be a rather useless character, an irritation rather than a unique twist on the platformer gameplay.

I'm not sure if I'm more annoyed with the game or with myself for not 'getting' it. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it's dated over the years and doesn't have the same impact it did to people that played it on its initial release.

Either way, I'm perplexed and disappointed. I really, really want to like this game...where am I going wrong?

Solaar
March 11th, 2006, 02:57 AM
First off, I apologise to all Ico fans. I know there's a fair few of you out there. I'm actually asking for your assistance, though, in helping me understand what I'm missing with regards to the game.

And there was I, telling Leiali that I was gonna come introduce myself to you... *tut tut*... and I had such high expectations for you as well...

Just kidding! :D I LOVE Ico, but I fully see where you're coming from with your exasperation for the game. It does seem that anyone picking it up now just doesn't appreciate (hmmm... is that the right word?) it as much as I - and several thousand others) did back in 1999, or whatever year it was released.

Maybe it's an age thing (the game, not us)? Maybe games have progressed so much that now when we hark back to a game that's been knocking around for a while that it just simply hasn't stood the test of time?


Having seen recommendations all over the place, and having enjoyed Colossus for the most part (http://www.sffworld.com/grevoff/82.html), I decided to check out Ico, especially as most people seem to rate it as being slightly better than Colossus.

Now, I'm really looking forward to Colossus. Did you know it was actually going to be called Nico and act as a sequel? There's one for the fact-fans.


This is rather perplexing me, as I've always considered myself to be very open and enthusiastic when it comes to unusual, more 'arty' (for want of a better word) games.

"Arty"...? I guess it is definitely that kind of way, in most aspects... but I would have gone for "atmospheric"...


The main culprit is probably the camera. It's the most godawful camera I've ever encountered in a 3rd person game. While 3rd person games can often have slight camera issues, Ico takes it to a whole new level - it's like it is specifically designed to always point in exactly the opposite direction to where you want to look.

Now you're the second or third person to say that in two days to me. Why didn't I have any problem? Not that I remember, anyway... but I haven't played it since it was released, and maybe that's the problem? Maybe I've got the old rose-tinted specs on?


Even ignoring the camera, the gameplay itself seems fairly generic and uninspired. Seems to be a very standard collection of ledges to edge across, jumps to jump, crates to push, buttons to press. I was expecting innovation and daring design (which Colossus definitely succeeded), instead I have a rather sub-standard Prince of Persia (admittedly Ico is an old game now, but I woudl have expected it to hold up better than this in the gameplay stakes).

Ah, now there's the point we're seeming to agree on... the age. I loved the gameplay; I loved solving the puzzles; I loved the atmosphere and spent many, many moments simply looking around the screen with the "camera" button.


Combat with the shadowy creatures is irritating at worst, and dull at best. Due to unresponsive controls, I find myself comitted to another swing of my stick, when I actually want to be diving for cover. This results in my getting knocked on my ass, after which I have to wait several seconds before I can get up again - by which time the girl has been snatched, and it's time for another game of "trying to outwit the arbitrary camera".

Ok, I thought that the fights were perfectly contructed - just enough tension and edginess to get you excited and frustrated. I remember shouting at the screen many times!

(And, no, it hasn't slipped past me how many times I've used the word 'remember' in this post... Maybe I am looking at this thru aged-eyes...)


On top of all this, there's the girl. Having to protect AI characters is often a low point of other games, due mainly to dodgy AI - often getting themselves killed through no particular fault of your own. Ico fares better, mainly due to being more forgiving - you always have a chance to pull her out of the void, so actual failure is rare. She still so far seems to be a rather useless character, an irritation rather than a unique twist on the platformer gameplay.

Time to disagree again ;) - I thought she was pivotal to the plot. Actually, she IS pivotal to the plot!! Without her the game wouldn't be as effective (to me anyway). Same as the fighting, I thought she added to the mix, and the fact that you now have TWO people to think of was a stroke of genius.


I'm not sure if I'm more annoyed with the game or with myself for not 'getting' it. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it's dated over the years and doesn't have the same impact it did to people that played it on its initial release.

And that's the best summary either of us have come up with!! Like I said, it definitely seems to be an age thing.

Try and imagine how you'd feel if you played them the other way round. Maybe if you'd played Ico without having played Colossus yet. Would that sway your opinion, stepping into the older world with no experience of the new game?


Either way, I'm perplexed and disappointed. I really, really want to like this game...where am I going wrong?

You're not going wrong... you've just caught a classic that's become a bit dated due to all the other games out there.

And now I'm gutted cos I have Ico on the shelf and I've been waiting for a nice summers day before I dust it off. I'm not sure I want to now!! :p

Anyway, thanks Tarn - this is the single longest post I' ve ever written on SFF, so I'm gonna go lie down now.

Nice to meet you finally :D

Solaar
and his aching fingers

Tarn
March 11th, 2006, 04:28 AM
Now, I'm really looking forward to Colossus. Did you know it was actually going to be called Nico and act as a sequel? There's one for the fact-fans.

Indeed, I had read that. I was half-hoping that Ico would clue me in to the rather abstract story and ending in Colossus, given the similar visual and story themes.


Now you're the second or third person to say that in two days to me. Why didn't I have any problem? Not that I remember, anyway... but I haven't played it since it was released, and maybe that's the problem? Maybe I've got the old rose-tinted specs on?

Perhaps, or maybe 3rd person cameras have just been perfected since then. I tend to be a 1st person kinda guy generally, so don't have masses of experience, the only recent examples being Psychonauts, Colossus and the various PoP games, all of which had fairly decent cameras. I think the main problem I have with Ico's camera is that it doesn't rotate around Ico himself, so you can't manipulate the camera without losing sight of your character. In Colossus, for example, you can be riding along on your horse while looking around with the camera without becoming disoriented.


Time to disagree again ;) - I thought she was pivotal to the plot. Actually, she IS pivotal to the plot!! Without her the game wouldn't be as effective (to me anyway). Same as the fighting, I thought she added to the mix, and the fact that you now have TWO people to think of was a stroke of genius.

Yes, I'm hoping that I'll warm to her. The problem so far (and I had a similar problem with Colossus) is that the plot is so minimalist there's very little to really get your teeth into. It's not a style I've really encountered in a game before, and I'm not sure it really works for me.


Try and imagine how you'd feel if you played them the other way round. Maybe if you'd played Ico without having played Colossus yet. Would that sway your opinion, stepping into the older world with no experience of the new game?

Indeed, if I'd played it on initial release I'm sure I would have liked it more. The problem is that various games have surpassed it now - Psychonauts brings a ton of innovative ideas to platformers, Prince of Persia perfected the combat side of things, and Colossus accomplishes the same kind of atmospherics as Ico with much more success.


You're not going wrong... you've just caught a classic that's become a bit dated due to all the other games out there.

Perhaps. I think I was expecting the story and characters to be stronger, which would have made up for elements of gameplay or technology dating. But other than the initial premise, there doesn't seem to be much character or story going on as yet.


And now I'm gutted cos I have Ico on the shelf and I've been waiting for a nice summers day before I dust it off. I'm not sure I want to now!! :p

Sorry, didn't mean to disillusion you! I'm sure you'll still love it, as you'll remember that initial excitement you got, back in the day! I'm still hoping that I'll get into it at some point. Fingers crossed. :)

Solaar
March 11th, 2006, 04:56 AM
Let's hope so - cheers for the chat!! I'm sure it's the first of many :D

Regarding Psychonauts - I gotta say it looks very good but I haven't played it yet. For some reason I'm hammering Tiger Woods 2006 again! It's better than I remembered, strangely.

And yep - I'm sure Ico will be just the same. Like you say, all the old feelings will return.

Anyone else with an opinion on Ico - it's been pretty split here so far!!

Solaar
Ico fan-boy

Tarn
March 11th, 2006, 05:03 AM
Get the feeling I'm as much of a Psychonauts fan as you are of Ico! I really hope you like it, it's actually become my favourite game of all time. I never thought I'd say that about a platform game!

Check out my ravings in the sffworld review: http://www.sffworld.com/grevoff/81.html (sorry, shameless plug I know)

Solaar
March 11th, 2006, 06:03 AM
Good review and it's definitely on my list of 'to-buy' now.

I was actually going to buy it for my girlfriend... but I don't think she'll be getting it anytime soon now... :p

Solaar
will soon be treating himself