In a great game there has to be something that truly hooks you and keeps you interested. Usually it is not just one thing but hundreds of aspects all working together to give you that great experience. Some games have it and some do not. This brings us to Kameo, one of the two launch titles from Uk Based game development studio Rare. Has Kameo got what it takes?
Kameo is an action adventure platform game, featuring a fairy who is the game's namesake. Because of a dispute with her sister, Kameo's family has been snatched by Orcs, and all sorts of evil have been unleashed on the land. It is up to Kameo to save the day. Sound familiar so far? The plot is undoubtedly nothing earth moving, but what it lacks in interesting narrative, the game more than makes up in action, visuals, and charm.
The gimmick in Kameo is her ability to transform into all manner of creatures, each with their own strengths and abilities. Transformations are easy and instant, lending themselves to a wide range of combinations in a battle or through a puzzle sequence. The genuinely neat thing is just how much personality every character she changes into has.
There is not a lemon among the set, and as you progress through the game and unlock new ones, there is consistently a sense of expectation and a desire to mess around and see how the new character works. Their specific strengths will be required regularly if you are going to make it past each of the game's stages, and Rare did an excellent job of balancing combat and puzzles, without ever resorting to the dull 'collect a key,' quests.
Among her transformations are a Yeti-like character that can rain down ice and toss enemies on the spikes covering his back, a Pummel Weed that is seriously good at boxing and at sneaking up to thing, an armadillo-like character that can go into a spiked ball and roll around, and many more.
All the animations of the characters are extremely fluid and distinct, and in each creature, you can also see Kameo, either on her haunches in the Yeti, or curled up inside the spiked creature rolling around the level.
Environments are richly detailed, often containing a host of things going on in the background. Both on a standard TV and on a HD TV, the game looks stunning and is a wonderful showcase for what the 360's potential is right out of the gate.
Rock, fire, smoke, explosions, grass, trees, snow, buildings, Orcs, Dragons, water, and everything else you witness in the game is crafted with an incredible eye for detail. Enemies are also vastly distinct and full of personality. Whether it is a little fire-tossing demon, or a massive Troll, players can not help but be impressed by Kameo's visuals.
The combat in the game is easy to get into, and great fun to do. Given the wide range of available characters, many of the encounters require strategy for determining which type of attack and defence will work best against the foes you are facing. Obviously your fire-breathing dragon is little use against a demon that tosses fire as well, but snow and water are likely going to work. Not all solutions are so straight-forward however.
The subtler aspects of the game are additionally top-notch. The musical score is exceptional and well worth the purchase of the soundtrack if you can find it. It rivals the music in some of the best Hollywood productions. Likewise, lighting and soft shadowing does its part to build onto the groundwork laid by textures and animations, making the entire world one you desire to spend a fair bit of time in.
Unfortunately, the game is a little on the short side and most gamers will blast through it in about 8 hours. Those who wish to explore a little more can likely stretch that to 10, but there is not a lot to do outside of the main quest.
Given the 'cutesy' nature of the character and the visuals, and given the rather simple story, it is conceivable that many gamers will overlook Kameo and move on to other titles. This would be a shame, as this game will appeal to older and younger gamers equally.
Rare took a great deal of time to release Kameo: Elements of Power to the public, but it has finally arrived on the Xbox 360 as one of its strongest launch titles. The presentation and gameplay are of a high quality, and it is always good to see a throwback game take centre stage (or part of the stage, anyway) at a console's launch. It's safe to say the story won't blow you away, and the game could've been a tad longer overall, but what you have with Kameo is still a quality title that delivers a next-gen experience that truly feels like it comes from the next generation.