PS2 Game Reviews

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Hey, for $15, I will play almost anything.

But, I had heard about the puzzle game "ICO" as far back as three years ago, and as Best Buy was trying to clear its shelves of games that are as old as the Bush presidency, I am quite happy to help them out...hence, "ICO."

So, the premise of the game is quite simple.  You play as a little boy named ICO, who has been imprisoned and stuck in a large castle somewhere in Asia, and your only goal is to get out...with the help of a similarly-imprisoned woman that happens to be the daughter of the evil queen that runs the castle.  Because of this, you will spend your time trying to escape but mostly trying to figure out how to leave while assisting the daughter negotiate a number of puzzles, because she is in a very weak physical state and needs to be taken extra special care of in order to survive.

For $15, you don't get a very long game...I got through it in about ten hours, maybe a little less.  Further, in a game that is strung together by a series of mental puzzles, once you have figured out how to do everything, there is almost no replay value to the game.  But, what a game it is!  Puzzles have rarely felt this rewarding, and in a game like this (there is almost no challenge to getting through the occasional bad guys that you need to take down with your trusty sword), sitting around and thinking your way out of the castle is surprisingly rewarding.

Controls are tight, and the best controls are left for the most important task--locating and assisting your female companion, who will make you angry more than a few times as she tries to follow your directions.  Graphics are (for the time, at least) incredible, the sound effects are haunting and the ending is pretty good for a game like this.  As a rental, this would be a classic, but for $15, I guess I can't complain too much at all!

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Hot doughnut tip?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09