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Developer:
Rare
Publisher: Microsoft
Platform: XBox 360
Release Date: November 07, 2005

by Jason Ferguson




Kameo: Elements of Power was easily among the most highly anticipated launch games on the XBox 360. After years of development by renowned developer, Rare, the game has a lot to live up to. It might not fully live up to the hype, but itís still an amazing gaming experience!


You play the game as Kameo, a young elf princess who has just inherited the throne, and with it, the elements of power. Kalus, Kameoís sister, is angry and jealous that Kameo was chosen as heir instead of herself, so she has awakened the evil troll king, Thorn, in an attempt to get revenge on her family! As heir to the elements of power, Kameo has the magical ability to transform into a variety of elemental creatures. Now she must seek out the elemental sprites and master the art of transformation in order to defeat Thorn and save both her family and her Kingdom!


You are thrown right into the game, with little backstory or explanation as to whatís going on. As the game progresses the story will begin to unfold and things really pick up. The story ends up being a fun, fantasy adventure with some interesting, although predictable, plot twists. However, youíll still have to find a good deal of information from the gameís manual if you want the whole story.


There are some interesting quotes given during load screens that should help to shed some light on whatís happening, but unfortunately they go by so ridiculously fast that you probably wonít be able to read most of them. Quick load times like this are a very good thing, but it's not a good time to try and read several sentences. They do tend to repeat a lot, though, so you may be able to piece them together after a while.


You transform into various elemental warriors in order to take advantage of their unique abilities, fighting styles, and advanced abilities. These warriors are used to combat the hordes of trolls youíre going to encounter, as well as solve a wide variety of puzzles. There are 10 warriors total, each differing significantly from the next, from Chilla, who hurls ice spears at enemies, to Pummel Weed, who can unleash a fury of punches on foes. The array of different elemental warriors and abilities results in a lot of variety in the gameplay, so youíll never get bored. The advanced abilities are among the strongest and most useful tools at your disposal, and can be upgraded by collecting elemental fruit and feeding it to your warriors. The stronger the ability is, the more fruit the upgrade will cost. These advanced abilities are used at the cost of the warriorís spirit, which is depleted as abilities are used. The spirit will slowly regenerate, and you can increase a warriorís max spirit by feeding it more elemental fruit. Aside from elemental fruit, youíll also be picking up elixirs of life, which increase Kameoís total health.


You assign an elemental creature to a button and can easily transform into it by pressing that button. You can also open a wheel, giving you a full list of your warriors. This allows you to switch to any of your elemental warriors with relative ease, but it can still be frustrating during the heat of battle. You can hit start and pause the game to switch transformations as well, which is sometimes better when surrounded by enemies. For the most part the game controls flawlessly, however there are some problems with movement. Your characters donít always stop particularly well when moving, which will more than likely result in plenty of deaths from falling off mountains, cliffs, walls, etc. Fortunately, you can continue as many times as youíd like, making the game very friendly for the gamer.


Runes serve as the gameís currency and can be collected throughout the game. You can buy a variety of items with runes, including elemental fruit and elixirs of life. Youíll also have to constantly purchase larger pouches for your coins, because you can only carry so many coins. This can get a bit annoying, because youíll end up spending a fair amount of cash on pouches, and youíll probably end up missing out on a lot of money when your pouch gets full. Although, really, money isnít much of an issue during most of the game.


The enemy AI is, at times, fairly intelligent. Enemies are intelligent enough that battles can sometimes become difficult, and theyíll even steal your horse if you get off of it. The boss fights are epic and impressive, with massive, challenging beasts to fight. Youíll have to use your transformation skills to the fullest in order to succeed in battle, and youíll have to take advantage of a variety of skills. Figuring out how to defeat a boss can sometimes be tough. Itís not always obvious which skill or combination of skills you need to use. However, youíll be accompanied by the Wotnot Book through your entire journey, which will give you hints and tips for when you struggle. This sometimes makes the game a bit easy, since itíll eventually come right out and tell you what to do, but it gives you enough time to figure it out for yourself first. For those growing frustrated with the gameís challenge, the Wotnot Book is a great help!


The game features no save points. Instead, it autosaves after you do pretty much ANYTHING. This is convenient because you donít have to worry about losing any progress if you die, or if you decide to quit for whatever reason. However, it might be a little confusing for gamers that use save points as a place to save and take a break from the game.


The game has beautiful graphics that are sure to impress you. The world in Kameo is simply gorgeous, with lush, vibrant colors and highly detailed environments. I sometimes found myself just stopping to admire the scenery as I progressed through the game. Occasionally youíll wander onto a battleground between the elf and troll armies. These battles really are a sight to see, with hundreds of participants, from knights and dragons to tanks and catapults. Through many of these battles youíll be on horseback, allowing you to rush through the battlefield untouched, giving you time to take it all in. The gameís effects, such as fire and light, are exceptionally done, and character movements are realistic and convincing. The whole game has a really interesting design to it, and does a great job of creating a living fantasy world.


The music in the game is equally as impressive as the visuals. Some of the most gripping tracks are played during the boss fights, and really help to pull the gamer into the experience. The impressive music isnít limited to the boss fights, though. Youíll be listening to top notch music throughout the entire game! There isnít quite as much voice acting as I would have liked, but what little the game features is of very good quality. The sound effects are also well done and help bring the world to life.


Perhaps the gameís biggest flaw is in its length. Youíll probably beat Kameo in somewhere between 8 and 12 hours, depending on how good you are at solving puzzles and how much time you spend admiring the scenery. There is some value in going back for a second playthrough, though. The game has a fair amount of items to collect, including elixirs of life and a whole bunch of elemental fruit. There are even multiple skins for your elemental warriors and a few mini games and a co-op mode that you can waste some time playing.


All in all, Kameo: Elements of Power is a game that no XBox 360 owner should be without. The puzzles are challenging, the gameplay is deep, the environments are stunning, and the music is great. Still, after waiting so long for the game I couldnít help but be at least a little bit disappointed, particularly when it comes to the gameís length.


Final Grade: 88%




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