Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/24/01 | Genre: Adventure
You are ICO, a young, horny boy, running around with a young girl named Yorda. No, this is not the latest marketing campaign for Viagra featuring a cleverly disguised Bob Dole, but the latest title for the Playstation 2 from Sony. Few will argue that the PS2 has seen its share of "lower quality" titles during its first year in the US. However, it is gems like ICO that really prove when it comes to console gaming the folks over at Sony know exactly how to throw a game together and create something magical. Allow me to explain...
To begin with, ICO is like playing a movie. While you aren't controlling Bruce Willis Reese Witherspoon, you get to control a boy with horns and interact with an AI (AI=Artificial Intelligence--that means the computer controls her, folks) controlled young girl who just happens to be a ghost. Now I know some of you out there would prefer to control Bruce or Reese but get over it! You get to control ICO, the boy with horns, and protect Yorda, the defenseless, young ghost girl!
Now, where was I? Ah yes ICO is one of the only games I have played that seems like a movie. The slow pace and interesting puzzles give you a challenge at every step. Throw in a few fights and there is also enough action to keep most players from getting bored. However, please note that this is not an action game-REPEAT-this is not an action game. With that said, there is one other point I need to make. ICO is actually fun to watch someone else play. My wife and I are both gamers. While she might not quite be the "hardcore gamer" I am-she is an excellent player at any title she picks up. When I first plugged ICO in, she sat and watched me played. I tried to give her the controller, attempting to let her in on the fun I was having, before I forced the Dual Shock 2 into her hands, she replied that she was having fun watching me play. We sat there and figured the puzzles out together-sitting in awe at the incredible gameplay that was unfolding before our eyes. So, what exactly am I trying to say here? If you haven't figured it out yet, let me spell it out for you again. *begins yelling* ICO IS AS FUN TO WATCH AS IT IS TO PLAY! *ends yelling*
(If you still don't understand the point I am making, please re-read this paragraph.)
[If you still don't understand after re-reading this paragraph, please go over to IGN.com, as they specialize in reviews written for people of your intelligence level.]
Graphically, ICO is stunning. While the demo included in the Jampack and the preview version shown at E3 looked pretty good, Sony has gone out of their way to clean up the graphics considerably since then. The most impressive thing about the graphics is the animation. After watching ICO and Yorda move around the screen, the world will have an eighth wonder of the world to gaze upon. The best way to sum up the animation is to say it is as smooth as silk. As the characters walk from screen to screen, you will be captured in a world with characters that appear to be real live people stuck in your TV! Okay, so you may not know any guys with horns coming out of their heads or any young ghost girls. However, besides these two small problems, ICO and Yorda move around just like any real person would.
Sometimes I wonder how developers come up with ideas for their titles. If I could ask the developers at Sony any question, I would ask who came up with the idea to save the game on a couch. And this just isn't any couch-it is a "ghostly" couch that glows a little bit. I don't know about you-but if I saw some glowing, radioactive couch sitting in the middle of nowhere, I think I would just pass by it. And we aren't just talking about one couch here there are TONS of these couches just sitting around all over the place. However, our heroes, ICO and Yorda, aren't afraid of mere glowing couches. But if they end up glowing towards the end of the game and blow up due to some radioactive couch disease, remember I warned you!
Controlling ICO couldn't be easier. Players can choose the D-Pad or the Analog control stick. I don't recommend the D-Pad as it is a little difficult to control. However, the Analog stick controls our fearless hero perfectly. To jump, climb up a step, or get past some obstacle, merely tap the triangle button. The weapon is also an easy button away. Just click the square button and you will be swinging your weapon like a pro! If you desire to reach our and grab Yorda! *SMACK!* HEY! This game may be rated "Teen" but this is definitely a "hands off" experience. Well, that is not entirely true as you get to grab Yorda's hand. And trust me, she will need your help though to get through the game. ICO will need to help her up ledges, catch her as she leaps across gaps, and protect her against the bad guys who want to steal her away. All in all, ICO has simple controls that keep you playing the game instead of worrying about which button to hit next.
Bottom line, how good is ICO? Well, lets put it this way... ICO is just like Viagra. No seriously! Viagra is the miracle drug for men who have "lost it," where ICO is the miracle game for an industry that needs to remember what games are all about-gameplay. So when you think of ICO, just remember this little analogy-Viagra is to Men as ICO is to the Gaming Industry. While ICO won't help you "perform" better, even Bob Dole will enjoy ICO. So what are you waiting for, go pick it up! No wait-put the Viagra down and pick up ICO!