TGS 2005: Kameo: Elements of Power Hands-On

We meet with Rare to check out previously unseen characters and levels from this colorful action game.

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Earlier today, during a meeting with Rare representatives in Tokyo, we had an opportunity to check out a number of previously unseen levels and characters from Kameo: Elements of Power. We were also able to see how much progress had been made on areas that we last saw running at E3, and we got to get our hands on a demo of the game when we returned to the Tokyo Game Show floor.

The first level we got to see in action during our demonstration was the first level from the game, which sees Kameo traveling to a mean-looking castle atop a mountain in an attempt to rescue imprisoned members of her family. These are relatives that we now know have been imprisoned by Kameo's evil sister, Kalus, who is jealous of the incredible powers Kameo possesses.

At the start of the game, you'll have three of Kameo's warrior forms at your disposal, which essentially let you transform into a pugilistic plant named Pummelweed, a blue-and-white gorilla with spikes on his back, named Chilla, and a large spiky ball with legs and a head named Armadillo. The three warriors' abilities are every bit as varied as their appearances, and we noticed that Chilla's fur looked especially impressive. Most of the improvements that have been made to the first level of Kameo since we saw the game at E3 earlier this year are in the visuals department. They include real-time depth-of-field and heat-haze effects (both very impressive), parallax mapped textures that make flat surfaces look like textures (such as slabs of rock on a wall or path), and large numbers of dragons flying in the skies above the castle.

We got to see the boss battle at the end of the first level for the first time during today's demonstration, in which Kameo finds herself face-to-face with a gigantic troll named Thorn when she attempts to rescue members of her family from Kalus. Kameo is destined to lose the encounter, unfortunately, and as a result, she loses all three of her warrior abilities before the game proper gets under way.

Next we paid a visit to the Enchanted Kingdom--an idyllic landscape of fields and waterfalls that you'll be free to explore at your leisure. It was here that we not only noticed voiced conversations between non-player characters (Rare has employed the services of professional voice actors for the game), but also the excellent lip-synching for said conversations. We were also able to see the castle from the game's first level in the background, although it was so far away that the real-time depth-of-field effect made it quite blurry.

After taking a swim in a pool of quite beautiful water boasting realistic reflections, ripples, and refraction effects, Kameo proceeded to the Enchanted Kingdom's large throne room. The thing that impressed us most about the throne room initially was the sheer number (purportedly around a million) of magical-looking light particles that were floating through the air in there, but what really wowed us was when, after a few minutes of loitering there, we were able to see the game's day-to-night transition in full effect--even though we were indoors. The light dimmed and turned blue, all the shadows changed, and, in short, the effect was both easy on the eyes and totally believable-- although we'd hope the transition from daytime to dead of night takes more than a few seconds in the finished game.

Leaving the safe haven of the Enchanted Kingdom, we were then transported to the Badlands battlefield that acts as the world's central hub. We got to see the same 3,000 or so orcs fighting the same 1,000 or so elves that we saw at E3, only this time the frame rate was much smoother, and we got to meet the leader of the elves (who was on horseback). We also noticed that an optional semitransparent map of the area was available to the right of the screen, which made navigating the battlefield much easier.

As you progress through the game, the ongoing battle between the orcs and elves will escalate, and although you won't necessarily have to join in if you don't want to, we reckon that the temptation will be hard to resist. That was certainly the case for the Rare representative who showed us the game, which was fortunate, since his actions on the battlefield afforded us our first look at the "warrior focus" mode that will become available to you after you perform particularly impressive combos and such. The warrior focus mode, quite predictably, slows down the world around you while letting you continue to attack at your normal speed. It's certainly not an original feature post-Matrix, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless.

Our destination upon exiting the Badlands was a previously unseen area known as Mountain Falls, which was a beautiful oasis complete with impressive waterfalls situated in the middle of a far less idyllic location known as Barrens. We were reacquainted with the fire-breathing dragon warrior named Ash, and then we were treated to our first look at another warrior named Deep Blue. As his name suggests, the somewhat octopus-like Deep Blue is a water-based character. Deep Blue's special moves while he's on land include a powerful water cannon, but his most significant ability is undoubtedly that he allows Kameo to travel underwater, which is exactly where our demonstration took us next.

Deep Blue, See

The underwater scenery was every bit as pleasing to the eye as that above ground, but we didn't have long to admire it, because Kameo was attacked by trolls armed with harpoon guns and a troll submarine shaped like a giant fish (if you're familiar with the Stingray TV show, you'll have a good idea of what you can expect). Since Deep Blue was quite literally in his element beneath the water's surface, he had some powerful moves at his disposal, including a torpedo attack that made short work of the aforementioned enemies.

Further exploration of the underwater landscape led Kameo to an underwater temple, which, once she went inside, was not only dry but also was the home of a large fire troll boss. Battles between water and fire in video games are invariably won by the former, so it came as no surprise when Kameo chose to remain in her Deep Blue form for the duration of the battle. We were given a few examples of ways in which Deep Blue might be combined with other warrior forms to win the battle even more quickly, but we'll let you figure those out for yourself once the game ships.

The next boss battle that we got to see, on the other hand, appeared to require a quite specific strategy. The boss in question was a huge, floating, malformed creature with tentacles and electrical attacks, who was virtually invulnerable to attacks until he was forced underwater. To do that, Kameo used her Armadillo form to roll into bombs scattered around the level in such a way that they were hurled through the air toward him. And then, when he was hit and forced underwater, Kameo adopted her Deep Blue form again and followed him with torpedoes at the ready.

To tell you anything about the levels that we saw during the remainder of our demo would be to risk spoiling Kameo: Elements of Power for you, since many of them were taken from the latter stages of the game. We can tell you that we got to see no fewer than four more previously unseen warrior forms, though. Snare is a plantlike warrior who looks like a Venus flytrap and can attack both with his huge mouth and his roots. Forty Below is an ice-based warrior who rolls around on a snowball and can freeze enemies with his breath. Flex is a water-based warrior with four arms who exhibited incredible elasticity as he grabbed enemies at long range and proceeded to use them as shields before throwing them great distances. And Thermite, who was obviously a favorite of the Rare designer showing us the game, is a small ant carrying a huge fire egg on his back. The fire egg looked to have more uses than a Swiss Army knife during our demo, including rolling around on it to move between areas more quickly than Thermite's little legs would ever allow him to, firing exploding projectiles at enemies and even sucking enemies in headfirst so that they could subsequently be used as projectiles.

Toward the end of our meeting with Rare we were given the opportunity to pose a few questions and were able to glean the following titbits of information:
1. Kameo: Elements of Power will take a minimum of 20 to 30 hours to complete, and your progress is saved almost constantly as you progress.
2. Each of the game's 10 warriors will have only three or four abilities initially, but each will learn more as you acquire special items and complete optional side quests.
3. You'll be able to play through Kameo cooperatively with a friend, either split-screen or by linking Xbox 360 systems. No Xbox Live features have been announced at this time, but they haven't been ruled out either.

We look forward to bringing you more information on Kameo: Elements of Power as soon as it becomes available.

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