Shadow of the Colossus
One thing that is obvious, however, is that this is a game that far outstrips what the PS2 is capable of rendering. It's beautiful, yes, but the framerate is nearly always in the teens to low 20s, and even an ample amount of clever motion blur (a la Prince of Persia) can't hide that the graphical detail in place is too much for the five year-old black brick.
The development team did a good job of masking some basic things by including a based level-of-detail system for transitioning the far-off sprites to vague outlines and finally drawing them in at full detail as you get close, but this can result in some unsightly pop-in as the geometry gets rendered in. Because of the size of the world, the textures look a bit too stretched and washed out on the terrain.
There's also the issue of the camera, which is far removed from the quite literally perfect implementation that was in Ico. It's the compromise of going from tight, relatively indoor vistas to something decidedly opposite that. You're given the ability to use the right analog stick to rotate the camera around your character, but the game still wants to present things like Ico, leaving you to fight with it to sometimes maintain the view that you need to make your next jump or strike. It can be infuriating at times, and cause more than a few missed jumps while playing.
I'm only harping on this because the game gets so many other things right. The animation, probably the single biggest reason why you fall in love with Agro and The Wanderer, and why you feel sorry for the colossi as you kill them, is unmatched. Watching your character flail around, barely hanging on as the colossi try to throw him off gives off a kind of instinctive survival charge that no games have been able to pull off before.
The colossi themselves are also deliciously varied and quickly leap from the bipedal minotaur-looking thing from early on to a gecko-like creature (which for me ended up being the worst battle, too) to a bird to a flying sand wyrm. All of them are rife with individual hairs, bits of armor and craggy rock relief perfect for scaling.
Once you do scale and eventually take down a colossus, the music that plays is incredibly somber. All of the audio is wonderful, but the feeling that you just destroyed something majestic to further you own ends is not something that's fleeting. There's a constant, palpable sense that you're trespassing in this land, and it's bolstered by the soundtrack, most of which blends a heavy-handed use of organ and choir notes.
The actual music that plays as you first provoke, then ponder how to climb the colossus, then eventually engage in full-on battles with it is, in a sense dynamic, but too often the same music is recycled for multiple fights, and on some battles where you simply have no choice but to be patient and plodding, the shortness of the tracks can start to wear on you a bit.
This is in stark contrast to the score from Ico, which was far more ambient and really only cropped up during specific key moments in the experience. The sound effects, or at least some of the libraries were probably ported over, because a lot of the same sort of echoed footfalls and grunts feel similar. Agro does sound wonderful, and his gallop is actually rather soothing, which is a nice touch when you decide to just break off and explore a bit, left to nothing but the sound of the world and the swath you're cutting through it.
For all the minor problems with the camera, some of the less exhilarating boss fights and the initial adjustment period that comes with learning the trademark slightly delayed controls, the whole of Shadow's experience is so thought-provoking, so intensely mature in its approach, that there isn't a single being on the face of this planet that shouldn't experience it.
It's not quite the masterpiece that Ico still is to this day, but then it's nothing like it either, and that alone should show that the programming chops of this team are without peer, for as much as the two games could share, what they differ on is exactly why everyone should experience both.