Kameo: Elements of Power Review

Kameo: Elements of Power is an action adventure game from Rare (Developer for Perfect Dark and Conker: Live and Reloaded) for the Xbox 360. The story tells a tale of how a King named Solon was in charge of the Elfin. The Trolls were one of the tribes associated with the Elves, but soon grew wary and wanted to flex their muscles. Led by a giant over-sized Troll named Thorn, the Trolls began conquering the other tribes.

King Solon was on a quest to find the Elemental Warriors, and was blind to the events that were occurring in his kingdom. King Solom was duty-bound to obtain these great warriors for the Wotnot Book. King Solon also had the Element of Power in his possession, which would allow him to take on the Elemental Warrior forms at his choosing.

King Solon returned to his kingdom and discovered what the Trolls had done in his absence. He used the newfound powers to vanquish Thorn and his minions, but he vanished in the process leaving many different accounts of his possible demise. Solon’s wife was left to rule and she nurtured the two heirs to the throne, Kameo and Kalus. Kalus was the eldest, but was dismissed as being the next heir for her unkind demeanor leaving Kameo to be the one.

Kalus being the spiteful little wretch that she was unleashes Thorn from his stone prison, and captures some of the Royal Family. Now it is time for Kameo to set things right.

This is the first game I have ever given a 100% to any category, but the sheer jaw dropping graphics in this game deserve it. No other launch title looks this good. There are a few games that are close like PGR3 and Call of Duty 2, but I feel that this game is leading the way for what others will have to out do in the future.

From the time I first put the disk in my newly attained Xbox 360 I couldn’t believe my eyes. The game is so rich and full of life. The colors are so deep. It reminded me of what a really good automobile paint job looks like. It looks like you could take your fingers and dip into it like it had thickness.

You want to talk detail, forget about it. This game is so detailed the first thing it reminded me of was the Warhammer 40,000 trailer except this is the game not a CGI trailer. There definitely appears to be a World of Warcraft influence as well. The Elven areas are very reminiscent of the Night Elf starting area.

The animations were so fluid and the best I have seen in any video game. It was very hard to discern the characters’ movements from that of real life. You simply have to see this game on a high definition TV to understand it. The facial animations were equally impressive.

There is one point in the game where there must be close to a thousand Trolls on a hill, and you just mow right through them on horseback without any framerate issues whatsoever. The most impressive thing I noticed was how the flames created a heat affect that actually made everything shimmer a bit much like you would see in any area that is under the affects of high temperatures. It was f’n amazing.

Music is provided by an original orchestral score composed and produced by composer Steve Burke (no relation to our esteemed Director), with performances by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Kings Choir in the Czech Republic. It is truly epic in nature, and oozes professional quality. The game actually reminded me a little of Disney’s Fantasia.

They didn’t spare any dough creating all the wondrous sound effects either. The crackle of fireballs whooshing over your head was very impressive. All the kicks, punches, and other assorted attacks and weapons all had unique sounds that came as close as possible to mimicking real life sounds. They were pronounced, but not so much that it would drown out the background ambiance and music.

Voice acting was top notch. There were a few synchronization issues with the moving mouths, but the voices were crisp and clear. Each voice had a unique characteristic that added nicely to the attitude and background of each character. The Mystic for instance cackled like a witch. The Wizard Ortho had a majestic English type of voice, which blended nicely with his arrogance. Kameo sounded like a a young woman would as a princess. She had something in her voice that made you feel like she was very confident and concerned about the current state of things.

The character interactions also offered a bit of comedy. Ortho and the Mystic for instance exchange verbal blows. The Mystic asked if we had slain one of the boss NPCs, and Ortho replies, “Well, like you, it wasn’t pretty.” In a similar exchange he makes a return slam about taking too long to repair the Wotnot book to being analogous with the length of her nose.

There is definitely a steep learning curve in trying to learn all the different characters in Kameo. Each of the ten Elemental Warriors that you can morph into has different moves, and also handles differently. Each warrior is designed to accomplish movements and attacks on a situational basis. Granted you always use the trigger buttons to pull off the moves, but you still have to know and learn the different combos.

Add to the above some difficult instances of where I could not rotate the camera because of limited fighting area, or in the water as the Water Elemental, Deep blue. You also have to get used to moving your character and moving the camera at the same time, which can prove to be difficult until you become familiar with it.

All that aside the execution and precision of the controls were very good with very little response time. Switching morphs was as easy as hitting one of three letter buttons which act as hotkeys for your morphs. You could assign up to three to “X”, “Y” and “B”, and use a radial dial a la Neverwinter Nights wheel type menu system to access your complete warrior list. Combat moves always used the left and right triggers.

The gameplay in Kameo was very challenging due to the learning curve. The unique thing about Kameo is that you actually start learning how to control and fight before hearing the story. The tutorial is disguised as part of the normal section of the game, and was incorporated into the storyline.

The main emphasis is to use Kameo’s acquired Warrior Elementals in order to kill enemies and get to the next level usually requiring you to figure out a way how. It had a Lost Vikings kind of feel to it where co-operation is necessary between the different complements of Warrior Elementals to get the job done. The warriors have very apropos names like the Dragon being named Ash, and ice thrower being named 40 Below, which reminded me of the Christmas character, Heat Miser.

You can upgrade your elementals by obtaining Elemental Fruit, which works much like D&D skill points or feats. You use them to learn new moves so that you can beef up your rather bland initial choices. Choosing the right ones will make a difference later on down the road so choose carefully. You also achieve battle points by how severe your attacks are as well as the types of combos you pull off. These are added to your final score.

The story is told and held together by helpful characters like Ortho who resides in your Wotnot book. The book also houses your Warrior Elementals and you can check out their stats in the book. This is also where you would upgrade them.

A helpful map feature keeps you on the right track, but can be somewhat confusing due to its lack of 3D modeling. The UI is very helpful with combo options clearly marked as well as a camera icon that indicates when you will have limited use of it. Too bad you have already figured that out by the time you see it.

Game saves are handled automatically and quite frequently, but with no manual way of doing so. There are also a few unlockables as well as stores to spend some of your cash on upgrades.

Kameo has some interesting gameplay, but it’s not long in the tooth. It will probably take most people 8 to 12 hours to rifle through the content. This will depend on how long it takes you to learn all the elementals, how to work the camera in with movement, and how many of the side quests you perform.

Kameo does not offer online multiplayer, but it does offer a 2 player co-op using split screen. The problem with this is that the battles do not scale in difficulty when adding two players as you do not have access to different areas from what the solo game offers. It is the same as the solo campaign. It is also very hard to figure out who is who sometimes since they didn’t add alternate skins to the game for the second player. Player 2 does not have access to the Watnot book either.

Areas unlock for “anytime” play as you defeat each area in Kameo. This allows you to boost up your Battle Points to get higher scores.

All in all there isn’t much content here, but what it does offer is absolutely beautiful and somewhat challenging.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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