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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
SCEA
DEVELOPER:
SCEA
GENRE: Adventure
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
September 24, 2001
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
The Last Guardian

Team Ico Collection

Shadow of the Colossus

 Written by Adam Woolcott  on August 22, 2001

Hands-On Preview: Dude, when did you start playing for the Minnesota Vikings?


Considering the wealth of high-level games due to be released for PlayStation 2 in the final months of 2001, it's not surprising a few fall through the cracks and become largely ignored. Such is the case with SCEA's Ico ? a game consistently overlooked until recently. Thanks to increased hype by Sony spin doctors (and fanboys, I guess), as well as a small sample of the game courtesy of the Summer 2001 Jampack, Ico is finally getting the due praise it deserves: just one month before it hits store shelves. And from the demo, you can rest assured that Ico will be without a doubt one of Sony's big games for the fall rush.

Ico tells the story of a boy named Ico (pronounced Iko). Ico is quite different, born with horns attached to his head (please refrain from Horny Little Devil jokes). Because he is different (and thought to be evil), he's trapped inside a castle for his whole existence. However, he breaks free from his trapped state and begins to figure his way out of the castle. On the way, he encounters a princess, also trapped within the castle. He frees the princess (yes, in Ico you save the princess first instead of last) and he takes her along on his quest for freedom, hand in hand. Leaving the castle, however, is only the beginning of the journey.

Ico unique in a lot of ways ? like another PS2 game, Shadow of Destiny, the emphasis is NOT on fighting enemies and killing, but on solving the various puzzles and getting by the obstacles presented. There are enemies here and there, in which you use Ico's stick (yes, a stick) to beat down the handful of baddies who do attack you. Adding to the fun is the princess ? not only do you have to progress through the game, you have to make sure the princess isn't far behind, or you'll lose sight of her. You can yell for her to come back to you, but if she can't find you (or if you scared her too many times and attempts suicide ? I swear she will too..) you're in trouble. And since you'll need her to progress through some areas, making sure she sticks close by. Just don't go crazy with that stick, okay?

Ico has a load of different functions ? he can jump platforms, climb ledges, slither across walls, climb ladders and/or chains, swim through water, and push stuff around. And in this game, you'll need each and every one of those skills to get past the tricky puzzles presented to you. The action is light, but the puzzles and obstacles are not.

The game is rounded off with superior visuals and sound effects ? visually, Ico is pretty much amazing. The ambience of the lighting effects in each area, the ridiculous level of detail, and the various animations for the characters are astounding. And those water effects shown are downright incredible. Graphics don't make a game, but Ico's sure do paint a really pretty picture, literally ? Ico seems like an artsy movie at times. It's nothing like you've seen prior, that's for sure.

While there is no music in-game (that I heard in the demo, anyway), the various effects are really well done. Ico himself has lots of grunts and groans to go along with the voice of him calling the princess, which is expected. You can even hear him breathing deeply as he's running from point to point. The other stuff is what's really nice. The crackle of fire from the torches and the splashing of the water are just icing on the total package of the Ico experience. This game just draws you in like very few can.

Final Thoughts
From what I've played, Ico looks to be a major sleeper from SCEA. While Jax & Daxter, MGS2, Devil May Cry, and the rest of the big PS2 lineup for the fall will steal most of the spotlight, Ico is well deserving of a little time in the limelight too. But don't take my word for it ? get the Jampack, or get ahold of the Offical PS Magazine next month, which will also feature an Ico demo. It's well worth a try ? and will only get you more excited for the release of the full game on September 25th.


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