STAFF REVIEW of Kameo: Elements of Power (Xbox 360)

Monday, January 2, 2006.
by Tony Ingrassia

Kameo: Elements of Power Box art Kameo Elements of Power was supposed to set the Xbox 360 community on its ear. I don?t know if it quite accomplished that task, but is the game anywhere near the hype that surrounded it. Our friends at Rare and Microsoft Studios really wanted this title to be special, after moving from one system to the next, reschedule after reschedule it finally found a home and the honor of being one of the 360?s launch titles. So its out, personally I never listen to the hype so I?m here to give you the lowdown on Kameo.

Let?s cut to the chase on one thing, I think the game was misunderstood by many. I think everyone expected a huge RPG title, when in fact the game was never really pushed as being such. Kameo is an action adventure platform game in its most basic sense, but as we all know it?s not the genre its how you deliver the goods. Kameo was one of the first Xbox 360 games I picked up, I had been looking forward to this title for quite some time, and I have to admit once I loaded the game and started playing I found it difficult to put down.

That being said, there is a lot to explain about Kameo, the first thing you will notice is the unbelievable graphics in this game; I played on an HD setup so keep that in mind. I know eye candy is just that, candy, but to ignore the fact that this game looks as incredible as it does would be an injustice to the people who worked so hard to make it look as good as it does. Starting with the basics, the environments are lush, colorful and full of life, particle effects float around open fields, and water falls and rivers ripple with a pleasant ambience. Lighting effects in the form of natural light, torches, or explosions are simply amazing. The characters while on the cartoonish side are very detailed and offer some of the most fluid movement I?ve ever seen. One of the most impressive visuals is that of the main character, Kameo, inside the chosen ?Element of Power? character, I could see where this could have been just left out and none would be the wiser, but they took the time to make the idea of this character transforming and controlling these elements to an entire new level. Again all in all Kameo is simply breathtaking.

Adding to the ?Experience? is a just as Impressive score. The music is a perfect fit to the game and does a great job of putting you in the mood of the world of Kameo. Light and airy at times when the game needs it also moves to a more powerful score when in the heat of battle. The ambient sounds just as the graphics are perfectly executed and suit the game perfectly. Clings and clangs of metal swords and weapons are very authentic, explosions, water effects, crackling fire, you name it, and they didn?t miss a beat on any level.

The reason I started with the look and feel of Kameo is because it is very impressive to have a game deliver this level of production and then become the background to the game as you settle into it for a bit, before you know it the ?Ooh?s? and ?Ahh?s? will be gone from your mind and you?ll start to see what this game is really all about. It?s an action, adventure platform game?with a slight twist. As you may have gathered by now, you are Kameo, a spry young woman out to save her family and her world. Right from the start you are thrust into battle, and you soon are forced to realize that you are not as powerful as you think, and in order to save your family you will need to obtain the ancient ?Elements of Power?. Part of the game is spent acquiring the 10 elements, each of which offers a unique and diverse style of attack, not to mention unique attributes that will suite given situations better than others. I do like the diversity of the ?Elements? you have Pummel Weed the boxing plant, Rubble, who is basically a pile of rocks that can disassemble in some interesting ways to cause destruction, Ash the Dragon, Deep Blue the underwater help complete with tentacles and jet stream packs, Major Ruin who reminds me of a giant pill bug that can roll around and keep Kameo safe within his armor. The second half of the group is 40 Below who is capable of dismantling large hordes of trolls, Snare who is best described as Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, Chilla the abominable snowman like bear if you will, who is the brawler in the group but also launches the occasional Ice Spear as needed, Flex the most agile of the bunch and last but not least the diminutive Thermite, in his case, size does not matter.

Why go through the whole bunch, well because this is what makes Kameo, Kameo. The ability to not only find all of these Elements, not only to use the right element at the right time, but also how to switch between elements as you go along, basically part of the puzzle of Kameo is to figure out the best combination of elements to use at a given time. By this I mean you need to learn to switch in mid action to be effective. So that?s the gist of the game, but how does it play out? Well the nuts and bolts of it are this, you can have 3 elements loaded into the buttons at any given time, and you can replace elements whenever you want during game play using the Warrior Wheel, basically giving you the ability to change warriors on the fly into one of the 3 slots (X, Y, or B). Kameo herself has a range of attacks and is also able to hover with her wings. As you venture through the game you can collect Elemental Fruit, that can be used to upgrade your warriors as you see fit, basically changing their attacks and attributes in a sort of RPG fashion. You can also collect Runes the currency in Kameo to use later in Shops. Your warriors will use up energy as they fight, this is shown on your blue Spirit Bar, and it will drain and refill as you progress through the game as you collect Elixir. Battle Bonuses are eramed by your attacks in the form of multipliers in 3 categories; Carnage, Brutal and Frenzy, defeat a troll without him landing a hit and achieve higher bonuses. The focus meter is a cool effect and comes in handy at just the right time, Kameo EoP has no problem hurling hordes of trolls at you at one time, making the battles intense, but if you string together enough attacks you?ll hit a Focus point where everything around you slows down enabling you to increase your attacks on numerous enemies while they appear to be standing still, this only lasts so long so get in as many punishing blows as you can. Through all of this you have a guide in the form of a Wot Not book and Ortho the wizard, these work as helpers to Kameo when she may be unable to figure out what to do or how to achieve a certain objective, sort of a built in cheat system if you will, but you may choose to ignore it and go on by your own wits.

This entire adventure revolves around Thorn, King of the Trolls and Kalus who feels she should be the rightful heir to the Elements of Power. So you spend time fighting trolls, ogres, rock monsters, etc? while also trying to solve some puzzles along the way. Some of the puzzles are rather simplistic but if you don?t take the time to observe your surroundings you may miss them. The other wrinkle in Kameo is that you can move from one area of the world to another through these teleport like windows, why, because you do have quests that can?t be completed without the proper warriors so you may revisit areas to complete missions. Kameo offers side quests as well, they range from obvious to a little more obscure but there is always something else to take on if you want to. Again, while Kameo offers some very tried and true platform elements like Hearts for health and elixirs for the warriors power it also ads quite a bit more to the mix in how you obtain success. Each level is awarded a point total and you may revisit levels to increase your points if you like, The Shops offer a little side step to the game to break it up a bit. The controls are well balanced to the point they too become second nature by the time you get into the real heart of the game.

Now do I feel like Kameo was everything it promised, well no, but I do feel it delivered a great platforming experience that did put forth some challenges as well as some real strategy when taking on some of the bosses. Yes some of the elements powers become a little redundant, but what platform game doesn?t suffer from that in some way shape or form. I feel the hype behind the game may have defused some of the true entertainment value of Kameo Elements of Power, but thats more our fault than it is the games fault. So if you?re looking for a new adventure in the platform genre and enjoy a little fantasy in your gaming diet Kameo Elements of Power may be for you. I defiantly think its worth your time if your gaming pallet is diverse, and for you die hard?broaden your horizons a bit. Highly entertaining, a little short on replay value, but heavy on production value I thought Kameo Elements of Power was a keeper.

Game On.

Expand the "world" of Kameo.

Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.8 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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