Shadow of the Colossus (Sony)What's the best game of the last ten years? Ask a room full of gamers, and there's a good chance PS2 hits Ico and Shadow of the Colossus will be mentioned a few times.
Developed by the same Sony-owned Japanese studio, they're both otherworldly adventures through surreal, sparse fantasy worlds, both often held up as prime examples of video games as art, and both being re-released in one $40 Playstation 3 package this week.
Ten years have passed since Ico's touching tale of a young hero and a strangely mute princess escaping a hostile castle first hit stores. Six have gone by since Shadow of the Colossus captivated us with its story of a brave warrior thrust into combat against a series of vast, skyscraper-sized beasts. Surely we've all moved on to newer, better, shinier things, right?
The Collection's slew of glowing reviews indicate the years have been very kind to this brace of classics. While both have been updated with high-definition graphics, Playstation Network trophies, 3D support and a handful of other modernizations, they're presented this week essentially as they've always been.
To the Telegraph, that's enough to make it "a compulsory purchase." Destructoid's Dale North "really can't think of any other games that [he]'d recommend more." GamesRadar calls them "brilliant, memorable, inventive and emotionally involving adventures," and says the updates make them "more irresistible than ever."
On average, it's scoring about 91% -- which, unsurprisingly, is right about where critics originally ranked each game individually all those years ago. Some things never change.
Also new this week:
FIFA Soccer 12 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP)
Although it might not stack up next to Madden on the U.S. sales charts, the FIFA brand's international selling power is phenomenal. Expect it to go home with millions of eager soccer fans over the next few months -- and with rave reviews like IGN's 9.5 write-up calling it "amazing," count on them having a jolly old time with it, too.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
But wait -- there's more! Konami's competing futbol franchise hops back on the pitch this year and delivers a pretty compelling alternative to EA's behemoth. It's scoring well with critics and is definitely worth a look if you're bored with FIFA.
X-Men: Destiny (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)
Much chatter has surrounded this week's release of X-Men Destiny, an Activision-published role-playing game based on the famous Marvel superhero license. Why's that? Not because it looks good -- although the screens and trailers do indeed look the part -- but because Activision just doesn't seem to be throwing much weight behind its release. Strangely, Destiny has arrived without the usual hype, PR blitz, and preview frenzy that typically accompanies a release with a powerful license like X-Men, and as to the reasons, your guess is as good as ours. Do yourself a favor and wait for a few reviews to trickle out later this week.
A Game of Thrones: Genesis (PC)
Thanks to its staggeringly good HBO TV adaptation, George R.R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series of fantasy novels is finally cool -- so here's its first video game adaptation. Sadly, you don't get to run about as impish Tyrion Lannister, drinking, fighting, and generally insulting up the place. Instead, this release is a real-time strategy game, telling the story of the thousand years of history leading up to the opening of Martin's books. But its bland-looking trailers (and its teen-friendly age rating) have many fans wondering just how close it'll come to the violence-packed source material.
Check vs. Mate (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
Is there really anything else that can be done with computer chess? Apparently so -- or that's what publisher TopWare would like you to think. Their Check vs. Mate release boasts an advanced AI engine and action-oriented fight sequences. Instead of a simple A-takes-B system, you take the reins of your pieces as they fight it out with the enemy. It's a concept old-school gamers will recognize from 80s classic Archon; we hope Check vs. Mate will prove as memorable.