fishdalf's Kameo: Elements of Power (Xbox 360) review

This is truly a Rare game from start to finish.

This isn't just a next generation game, it is the first next generation game released for the Xbox 360 and with that position comes a great deal of pressure. Many people will look to this game as a window into what Microsoft's new machine is capable of. Not only that but this game has been in developement for many years, right back to the Nintendo 64 days and you would think with that much time Rare should have made something great here. Putting all that pressure aside Kameo is a game that welcomes you with open arms, the bright vibrant colours come at you from every angle and immerse you in a world of action and adventure you have probably never experienced anything like before. With all these colours flying around it is to no great surprise this game has already been branded "childish" and been pushed aside for games believed to have more realism. For those gamers who don't include this in their launch line-up I can't help but feel they are missing out on a somewhat unique experience. This game isn't only fun, it is also very clever and with the best graphics in any game from any console to date I believe it is a worthy addition to anyones collection.

Kameo is essentially an elf princess with tiny wings that give her the ability to hover around the landscape with relative ease, she can also jump and do flip-kicks but that is as far as her moves go. You may be wondering at this point what the appeal of such a small array of moves can be in terms of entertainment value and it would be understandable, fortunately for us this isn't all Kameo can offer. Kameo was also given the unqiue ability to morph into a variety of weird and wonderful creatures each with a handful of moves and abilities themselves which are easily accesible via the shoulder buttons. There are 10 elementals or creatures if you prefer in all and 3 can be assigned to the face buttons on your controller for convenience. Each elemental has their uses, for example the first one you unlock is a boxing plant who has some quick jabs and some pretty strong uppercuts that hold their own throughout the game. Other elementals include an armadillo looking thing that rolls up into a Metroid Prime type ball and lets you explore places previously unaccesible without it. Each of these creatures adds immense value to the gameplay and each will be needed at various point of the game to progress.

The game throws you into the action almost straightaway without really teaching you the basics of combat and expects you to make your way through a castle full of trolls and other nasties, there's even a fairly challenging boss fight at the end. After this somewhat frantic start the game then puts you at the beginning of the adventure and teaches you the basics you need in order to progress through the game. There have been many theories as to why the game was done this way and the general consensus seems to point towards an opening that lacked any real wow-factor, so they stuck this level onto the game to give it the opnening they felt it deserved. The opening level does show-off some amazing visuals amidst all the action and if you are lucky enough to own a HDTV you will see what this game really has to offer. Don't be disheartened if you don't though, this game still looks much better than anything you will have experienced on a console to date.

After you complete a somewhat simplistic training program the game puts you into a beautiful place known as the Enchanted Kingdom, the whole place feels like you've been put into a fairy tale with it's bright colours and it's stunning water effects. The adventure opens up at this point and gives you the option of tackling the next level and obtaining that all important next element or simply exploring the world and finiding hidden treasures such as elemental fruit. These give you the chance to upgrade your creatures by giving them extra moves to pummel your opponents with, none of these are necessary in order to complete the game but are welcome additions none-the-less.

The game isn't all that difficult to be honest and shouldn't take that long to complete, one of the reasons for this is the addition of a talking book that tries to help you just a little too much. You may be playing through a level and enjoying it and suddenly a voice can be heard saying "I have an idea" and the temptation to open the book and see what he has to say can be too overwhelming. The adventure also isn't that long to begin with so this help can get somewhat annoying when you're trying to get the most out of the game. If you are one of these people who wants to unlock every single thing on the game and acheive those 1000 points towards your gamerscore this will take quite a while longer, you not only have to find every single piece of fruit, elixer and crystal eye from the game. You also have to go back and compete every level on the game with a rank of A which isn't easy by any means..

This game has quite a few impressive moments, there are full on epic battles in some portions of the game, it's just a shame some of these weren't put to better use and perhaps a little longer. This does add variety to the gameplay and there's nothing more satisfying than ploughing through hoardes of trolls on a big horse. You'll also find some well thought-out puzzles in the game, while not exactly taxing they do seperate the task of unlocking all the elements nicely. Throughout the game you will face the shadow trolls, everytime you defeat one you unlock a new element into your arsenal. These battles are all pretty much alike except for a slightly different challenge each battle, dodge something here or dodge something there. This is a little disappointing because these battles had so much potential, the battles could have at least had some reference to what elemental you were actually unlocking. Once you beat them and you get your new creature all the disappointment just seems to wash away because each elemental is so well designed and everyone of them adds a new aspect to every battle you encounter.

Again I feel I should stress this game is just too short, once you have all 10 elementals at your mercy there is just so much potential, i am just so frustrated because i really enjoyed this game and wanted to continue with the adventure. There is a two-player split-screen which sees you playing the game with a friend but this isn't all that exciting and adds nothing to the game whatsoever. The levels clearly weren't designed for two people and you will probably find yourselves completing levels even easier than when you were on your own. If there are two of you and you want to both enjoy the game together i advise one watching and one playing, at least this way one of you gets to smash trolls into bigger trolls and one gets to admire the beautiful graphics.

This game implements various thing's I would like to see included in other games, the save system for one. The game saves your progress automatically at various points as you play through levels, you don't have to stop and pause the game if you feel a challenging part coming as the game will already be saved for you. Despite having these stunning worlds and plenty happening on the screen with you the loading times are minimal and the framerate never really seems to drop, you can surely only be impressed by it. The sound is just as impressive if not more so and the musical score that accompanies this game fits in perfectly. An amazing soundtrack and some really quirky sound bites that each character posseses wraps up the whole package really nicely. You just have to stop and listen to any of the number of creatures you select, each one has a distinct set of realistic sounds and you just can't help but be impressed.

This is truly a Rare game and is impressive from start to finish, the game just keeps throwing new gaming experiences at you and you just can't help but enjoy them. If you are looking for a game to impress your friends with or just looking for a game to start you off on your journey into next generation gaming you will not be disappointed with this game. Whether this game can stand the test of time remains to be seen but iIbelieve this will be a title to boost even the best of game collections with it's crazy fighting and it's unique visuals. If this is what next generation gaming is all about then give me another slice because i'm hungry for more.

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