Kameo: Elements of Power Review
Several years in development, a couple platform changes, and Rare’s latest title is finally here. Kameo: Elements of Power lands on the Xbox 360 as a launch title with what could possibly be one of the sleeper hits of the next generation consoles.
As usual, Rare comes out with a whacky, yet mystic adventure about an unusual fairy princess (Kameo) and an evil sister (Kalus) who's kidnapped the royal family in an effort to take control of power. To top it off, Kalus has allied herself with the self-appointed king of trolls, Thorn, and the entire troll army which is causing havoc among the magic kingdom. As you would normally expect, Kameo takes the initiative to fight back and in end, falls victim to her sister. In what could be described as an adventuress fairy-tale, Kameo awakens to find herself alive in the hands of The Mystic, a magical aid to the queen, in which our adventure begins.
The whole game is based upon finding the lost elemental warriors along with your family history. Each elemental warrior will offer you a different ability in which will help you later on. In what you would normally expect from a Rare game, along your adventure you will meet several weird and bizarre characters in which will help you regain your elemental warriors to prepare for battle. The levels themselves are of decent size, yet seem to be lacking the overall next-generation feel. Everything is much scripted to the fact that if you play the game again, you will know where everything is and how to defeat it. Along the way, you will find several puzzles in which you have to solve. If you are stuck at some point, the wizard Ortho, who’s been enchanted into the Wotnot Book, is always there to offer advice or a helping hand in the solving of the clues. Over the course of the game, you will end up gathering 10 elemental warriors in which each will help you in the following level. These following levels are geared towards the warrior you have acquired (such ass Deep Blue will help you swim in the Underwater Kingdom). This is not to say that you will not be able to use the other characters. With the ability to rapidly switch to which one you want, you will be able to target the enemy's weak spots quite easily. To acquire an elemental warrior, you will always be lead to a cave in which a tunnel caged up will give you access to fighting the warrior. You will have to solve a puzzle in the cave to get access to this tunnel (usually a do in order type). The major concern I had with this game is all the warrior battles are very repetitive. Another issue arising is the camera has several issues when enclosed in a tight area or when you are in the water. This becomes frustrating and down right annoying sometimes.
One major plus for this game is the gorgeous graphics displayed in the levels and characters. Considering not too long ago we were looking at xbox graphics, Rare has come to the plate with amazing textures that cannot do justice unless you try it on a HDTV in 720p. The real-time lighting is an added bonus and the game’s framerate is probably the best on the next-generation so far. We experience no slow downs even with some of the more epic battles such as the mountain where there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of trolls. Load times are very well done in this game with most of them loading in the background while we watch a cut scene. There are still several instances where we are brought to a loading screen which is a bit disappointing in a way.
One of the best parts of the game I found was the ease of picking up the controller and starting to play. The controls in Kameo are smart with the quick changing buttons between elemental warriors. Probably one of the best things in the game is the fact that all controls are displayed in the HUD at various times you can use them. All elemental warriors’ controls are used by the triggers on the controller, yet if you do not know what each would do, it would not be a pleasant experience. In Kameo, when you select a character, at the bottom of the screen, it will display the special moves the warrior you have can do. Also, when you need help, Ortho will display on screen with the start button under him, and same goes with talking to people. This was very smart on Rare’s part and should be used by more games.
Boasting an amazing soundtrack, Kameo’s audio is superbly done with tons of voice acting and orchestrated music. Each level has tons of sound effects in which you will feel you were actually there. As with the video, the game can only be appreciated for those that go the extra mile with their equipment, boasting full 5.1 surround sound capability, this is one area that wasn’t a let down.
Overall, Kameo is a well deserved experience, although with so many years in development, I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the game. As mentioned before, the graphics are amazing, the audio is superb, the gameplay needs a bit touching up regarding some of the issues that make the game a tad frustrating. This may not be the killer app the Xbox 360 is looking for, but is a solid experience none the less and should be tried by all this launch date.