With the highly anticipated release of the Xbox 360 behind us, gamers are now focusing more upon the games that are currently available for Microsoftâ€™s next-generation console. Although some may debate that the current selection of titles is somewhat less than stellar, and that thereâ€™s a distinct lack of a â€˜killer appâ€™ such as the original Halo for the first Xbox, Microsoft made sure there were games of every kind for the 360â€™s early adopters. One such title is the long awaited and largely hyped fantasy action/adventure game Kameo: Elements of Power, which is a surprisingly amusing and refreshing take on the genre while being ostentatious enough to demonstrate some of the graphical prowess many have been expecting from the 360.
In Kameo, players take up the role of an elf princess on a quest to rescue her family from the clutches of her jealous sister, Kalus, and the gigantic Troll king, Thorn. Thorn and Kalus have combined forces to wrest control of the Elf kingdom and, in so doing, they attempt to seize the Element of Power and the Elemental Warriors. Preceding the coup, these Elemental Warriors have been scattered into the wind and it is up to Kameo to find and return them to the fabled Wotnot book.
Players begin in Thornâ€™s castle, where they vainly attempt to reach its tallest tower, which is where Kameoâ€™s family are being held hostage by Kalus and Thorn. The level also serves as a brief introduction to the gameplay mechanics, ranging from controlling your character, morphing, and your Warriorsâ€™ special abilities. Although itâ€™s a challenging opening, itâ€™s an admirable way to thrust the player right into the heat of battle. Problems arise when presented with the next level though, which seems to be another even more basic tutorial that includes looking at different lit torches and practicing a kick attack. The whole area seems a little late to the party and out of place, which really breaks the flow of the game, but, apart from this, the plot advances at a good pace and manages to keep players immersed and captivated.
As with most action/adventure titles, the game revolves around cunningly using the different Elemental Warrior forms that you inherit in order to defeat various sections of puzzles, platforming, and combat against the many kinds of foes youâ€™ll encounter throughout your epic journey in the Enchanted Kingdom. Fear not, however, Kameo is assisted by a wealth of characters in her questâ€”such as the Wotnot book, which contains vital information on your quest and warriors, while also offering tips and tactics when confronted with challenging situations. If you have a second controller, the game even has cooperative play, although the levels must first be unlocked by playing through the single-player campaignâ€”which is kind of a bummer. Additionally, co-op is only available through the split-screen mode and not via Xbox Live, which is also rather disappointing. The only connectivity available is for downloadable content such as Kameo-oriented themes, new outfits, etc.
The gameâ€™s control scheme is excellent and provides easy access to the essential actions by linking them to the two trigger buttons, while the four face buttons are assigned to rapid transformation into pre-selected Elemental Warriors. Holding any of them down for a couple of seconds will bring up a selection wheel with all of the currently available creatures to choose from, instead of manually reassigning one to a face button by pressing â€˜Startâ€™ and going through the Wotnot book.
Visually, Kameo definitely packs an impressive punch. The term â€œNext-Genâ€ has been thrown around a lot these past couple of weeks, along with everyoneâ€™s definition of what the next generation of gaming should resemble. In terms of gameplay, Kameo does very little to expand innovation when compared to the countless other action/adventure games already available, but in terms of graphics it is practically unmatchedâ€”particularly when in 720p mode. There may well be many gamers who lack the necessary funding or means of acquiring a HDTV but, rest assured, Kameo is still a visual feast on a regular TV. The environments are incredibly detailed regardless of your TV preference, although they are obviously superior in 720p mode. They are also extremely varied, taking you through gritty, hostile fortresses and castles, to majestic countrysides, battlefields populated by hundreds of trolls, and other exotic locales. The models are also superb and fluent. The framerate always remains above a solid 30 FPS, even when charging through a field with hundreds of battling enemiesâ€”itâ€™s a striking tour de force showcase of the Xbox 360â€™s capabilities.
In the audio department, Kameo manages to keep up a positive aural experience throughout the course of the game while providing a pleasant soundtrack with tunes that are always perfectly suited for the situation at hand. Alternatively, you can also use the consoleâ€™s multimedia features to stream personal music from your PC or any mp3s already on your 360â€™s hard drive. The sound effects are nice and crisp, especially in 5.1 Surround Soundâ€”even though a minority of the sound feels a little tacky and weak. The voice acting is also top-notch for the most part, although there are a few cheesy lines and others moment of dialog that seem rather forced or too predictable.
Overall, Kameo is a refreshingly fun experience for a launch title, and although it creates little in the way of true innovation, it still provides plenty for action and adventure fans alike. The game is lengthy enough to keep players captivated and intrigued, but it finishes perhaps a little too quickly. Some may debate that Kameo is more of a kid-oriented title due to the general appearance of its characters and the simple storyline, but the game is still challenging and immersive enough for players of all agesâ€”even more so in co-op split-screen mode. The audio and visual departments are also two of the gameâ€™s highpoints, and easily prove that the 360 hides considerable horsepower beneath its hood, specifically through a HDTV. All in all, fans of the genre will definitely find an entertaining experience within Kameo: Elements of Power and, from a technical standpoint, the game is also a great way of sampling some of the 360â€™s massive potential.