The game starts from the perspective of a hawk flying above a stretch of misty canyons topped with lush vegetation. Who knows how long Wander had been on the road, but finally he can see the temple way off in the distance so he knows he's on the right track. A narrow ledge runs precipitously around the cliffs which lead through the mountains and into a dark forest. He carries with him something dear to his heart, wrapped tightly in a shroud and always close by. He will stop at nothing to bring her back, but only has some old myths to go by, fanciful tales that talk of a magical sword, cursed lands and a fallen God with the power to bring the dead back to life.
Once WWWArea found the code that froze the opening cutscene we could move Wander around in a limited way as you see in these images. Wander is still frozen and when he's moved away from Agro the reins get stretched out, so it looks a little strange with Wander suspended by two narrow lines. But being able to move Wander around in a cutscene was amazing and for the first time we could explore a new area of the world.
Wander above canyon hills
There's some amazing scenery in this part of the cutscene, the top of the cliffs are covered with bushes and trees but if you get up close to them you realize they are much too big. The model seems to be scaled up in comparison to Wander and Agro.
This is where the cutscene starts
Start of the path - it narrows down to a sharp point
Much later WWWArea managed to get Wander's animations working but the whole area has no collision detection (as you were never meant to be here) so we could only fly around using the parachute and gravity codes. Later we started using the save stone as a platform, WWWArea was the first to take one to the canyons but unless the surface is completely flat you can still see the stretched out save stone, but at least we now had a platform to run around on.
This appears to be a stretched out or glitched fern - it's in the forest as well
Entrance temple in the distance up close
Bottom of canyons looking up
Frozen hawk in flight
Loki, Wander & Agro - I moved the cliffs away here
The moon up close above the globe of clouds
Wander admiring the view
High ledge above path
Secluded area high up on cliffs
Shrine of Worship at the canyons
Using a special code (another WWWArea find) I can change the Shrine of Worship from the low res version of the cutscene into the high res version we see in the game. I can then move the cutscene model so it surrounds the high res temple for example, allowing me to explore the cutscene with the main temple as a backdrop. A small area around the temple also becomes solid so I can run around the temple with the canyons, or forest etc. surrounding it. I did this with the Canyons and the forest parts of the cutscene with some interesting results.
Exploring the intro canyons
Intro Canyons video
Next we see Wander entering a dark, mysterious forest with a shimmering lake nearby. The moon peeks through the storm clouds above, shrouded by the dark canopy. Leaves fall lazily to the forest floor and flickering lights blink on and off at the lakes edge. Could these be the souls of past travelers? Wander has traveled through the night to reach this place but continues on, a threat growing in his mind.
Riding through the forest
Wander exploring the forest on foot
Here's that fern again in the same location, only the surroundings have changed
Edge of the forest
View of the lake
Under the lake - nothing but a few gnarled branches that stick up out of the water
Dome of clouds above the forest model (you can just make it out in the center)
View of the forest from above
At one point in the cutscene these fireflies appear at the edge of the lake, see video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkUPnU_SKnM
Forest cutscene video
Forest temple video
Rest Stop in Rain
The forest melts away and Wander stops at an overhanging cliff beyond which a large open field extends away to the south. There's a light shower of rain here and the entrance temple can be seen much closer on the horizon. It's time for a short break, Agro has been on the road for too long so he waits while his horse takes a much needed drink.
This is the same area where Emon and his soldiers appear later in the game (after defeating #12). There's not much to this part of the cutscene, just a small area where Wander and Agro stop and the distant mountains (which are the low resolution type).
Agro takes a break after a long journey
View of model - only what's needed for the cutscene is loaded
Above Agro on embankment
The entrance temple is much closer now
Rest stop video
Next we see Wander riding Agro across a large open field of grass, passing by the occasional lonely tree, it's still raining and there's a strange light here that seems to have a life of its own. He has traveled far but senses that his journey is nearing its end.
WWWArea and I could never explore this part of the cutscene as when we used the freeze code the screen turned black, like the game had crashed. It hadn't, but with the black screen we were stuck so we had to forget about this part for a while. Much later I found a way to disable the black screen so for the first time I could explore this last unseen part of the cutscene - which was quite exciting at the time ; )
Agro in the distance
View of Agro from between branches
View of tree - this is the one nearest to Agro (see first image)
A couple of large boulders
Looking back from a sunlit patch of grass
Weird umbrella plants can also be found at various places in the forbidden lands
What appears to be a dried up river bed
Green field model from a distance (I'm at the 0, 0, 0 co-ordinates here)
Green field light comparison
The light in this area fades in and out and makes the more distant objects hard to see, but I found a way to disable it. In the image above the left side is normal, the right has the light turned off. This is at the north end of the field where the textures are stretched out. It's clear they didn't expect anyone to ever see this as it's hidden in the cutscene, so they just stretched the model out at both ends.
Stretched out texture at south end (toward the entrance)
As always with Team Ico, the attention to detail is amazing! You only see this area for a few seconds (from a distance) but they have put in so much detail. This is why I keep hacking this game, simply to explore. Every area has the same astonishing attention to detail and that's what keeps me interested... also the euphoria of seeing a place that no one has ever seen before (except Team Ico ; )
Green field video here:
At the end of the field Wander arrives at an ancient temple. It rises majestically in front of him with two huge spires standing sentinel on either side of a narrow entrance. Ruined columns stand in silent witness on either side, some have fallen over, toppled by an earthquake perhaps in times long past. There's a change in the air, an anticipation of some ancient power, the fringes of which can be felt at this lonely outpost... but his need outweighs any fears he might have, he must go on and see this through to its end.
Behind the Entrance temple
You only see this area for a few seconds in the opening cutscene, but it's one of the most magical and enticing areas in the game. Until Pikol came along people had hoped that there was some way to get through the entrance and explore this area in the game, but a strong wind pushes you back preventing any exit from the forbidden lands. But even if you could get past the wind there is nothing there in the game... the entrance model only loads during the opening cutscene, in game it's just an empty void with some floating bushes and a low resolution extension of the main bridge - which I think is a relic left over from from an earlier version of the game used in the beta Spider battle - see Unused/Beta Colossi post here:
View from behind the Entrance - fallen columns litter the area
I used a stretched out save stone here after freezing the cutscene. The area is perfect for a save stone platform as it's completely flat (unlike the other parts of the cutscene) so I could run around and explore this area as if it were another part of the game. However, Agro is still frozen solid as she is in all parts of the opening cutscene after I freeze them... I've yet to find a way to unfreeze Agro.
See video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joJeKZQS8-Y
Update 24-10-16: I finally figured it out xD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L80UBzCwyfo
Distinctive boulder stands out against the background
The only anomaly I found was a small tree hidden within a larger tree, so perhaps the devs put this here then decided a larger tree would look better and just placed it over and around the other smaller one?
This is the large tree concealing the smaller one
The field stretches out to the west - you can see the spires of the Entrance in the distance
There are 16 columns lining the temple (including the fallen ones) one for each colossi
4 on the east side
9 standing columns on the west side
Plus 3 fallen columns on the west side - I wonder what colossi these represent?
and space for 8 more on the east side (12 on either side) for the 24 original colossi
Using an invisible save stone I can explore the upper parts of the temple
Between the spires - the central path is just below
Entrance at ground level - this is a WWWArea hack
There are some solid walkable areas on the front side of the temple (in game) but you need to hack the game to get to them - see video here:
The narrow passage opens up revealing a vast open landscape - the forbidden lands. He has made it! The journey is over, but another is just starting. The bridge is long and will take many hours to cross, but he can see the enormous temple at its end. This is his destination, a magical place that the old myths speak of, a place where, if one is worthy, a soul might be brought back from the land of the dead.
The bridge is part of the entrance temple model and extends all the way to the Shrine or Worship with the surrounding lands made up of low resolution textures. So it's one huge low res model with some high res parts that are shown in the cutscene.
I'm using an invisible save stone platform here to walk around
About half way along the bridge transforms into the low res version
Back door of the low res temple
Low res platform and bridge
The bridge continues on into the low res temple
I went exploring around the low res model and took some snap shots. Even though the models are low res they don't melt away when you get up close to them in certain parts of the model, such as around the temple and a few colossus areas.
Low res desert temple (15's area)
You can see there's still some details added even though you never see this
Panned out view of the stairs leading up to 15's arena
This is as far as 15's model goes, beyond the columns is void
Quadratus' beach still retains the feel of the original - there's no water though
Quadratus' cave is just a squared out hole in the cliff wall
Lower level of the bridge above the beach
Low res earth bridge
View of F4 from the cliffs next to the entrance to 4's area
Path to 4's area looking back towards the temple
Outside Avion's area - there are no save shrines to be seen in this model
Field at G3 looking north
Huge rocks above 2's area
Bridge to 12's area with missing G2 forest - notice the columns are square
Beta path on other side of the bridge - which winds around the cliffs to 12's area
3's area is just an enormous hole in the ground - resembling a meteor crater
Low res shrine of worship still retains some details of the original
Land & Bridge Models
This part of the cutscene is made up of several different models that join together to form one huge model as shown in the images below.
'Main lands model' from high above on an invisible save stone platform
Copy model - I've moved it out to the west so you can see it more clearly
There's another model that sits over the main lands model that I call the 'copy model', it's identical to the main model except it's not as large, but still has it's own Shrine of Worship and bridge with some surrounding lands attached. This model is slightly higher in resolution than the main lands model and is used in the cutscene when the camera pans away from the bridge, the main lands model serves as a backdrop for the more distant lands with lower resolution textures.
Entrance and bridge model - this is a high resolution model
Distant mountains model surrounds the other models
Distant mountains model has its own dome of clouds - I had to scale it down for this shot
Out to the east is the game temple, bridge and mountain texture
Here I have offset the copy model from the main model to show two temples
There's actually three temples in this cutscene. The main model temple, the copy model temple and the game model temple. The cutscene takes place at A0 on the map so the game temple (the one we see when we play the game) is further out to the east, but in the cutscenes only a low res version of it exists and the surrounding lands are not loaded.
Wander & Agro (with Mono) on the beach of the distant mountains
These grey, misty mountains can be seen in both the opening and the final cutscenes, I call them the 'Shadow Mountains'. They act as a distant backdrop to the forbidden lands, but there is no evidence of them in the game. They are extremely far out... from memory around 8,000 metres (8km) from the forbidden lands!
Rooms in the Temple
The copy model temple is unique in that it has its own rooms and chambers. When I first saw these I wondered if this was a leftover from the original plan for the Shrine of Worship, with rooms that would allow you to climb to the higher parts of the temple? But I think it's just the texture planes intersecting to form what look like rooms. In this mode I can make it look like Wander is standing in each room.
Normally textures viewed from inside glitch, but these ones don't
There are huge chambers to be seen
Cathedral like hall
Climbing higher in the temple
Small room high up in the temple
Balcony with view of the distant shadow mountains
Top of the temple surrounded by low res lands
Game temple, bridge and mountain texture to the east
Beyond these areas the lands melt away so there's nothing else worth showing... so that wraps up my detailed exploration of the opening cutscene, I hope you've enjoyed reading it and viewing the many images presented here, all made using a number of hacks discovered (for the most part) by WWWArea ; )