X05: Kameo: Elements of Power Hands-On

We get our hands on the latest preview build of this Xbox 360 launch game from Rare.

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AMSTERDAM--At Microsoft's X05 event in Amsterdam this week, Rare was showing off a number of different levels from Kameo: Elements of Power, which has recently been confirmed as a launch game for the Xbox 360. The levels were from various stages of the game, so in order to avoid any major spoilers, we opted to play through one that we know takes place early in Kameo's adventure.

The dark and menacing castle level was one that we'd seen during previous meetings with Rare but that we'd never had an opportunity to play through ourselves. The three warrior forms at our disposal throughout the demo were Armadillo, Pummelweed, and Chilla--each of which we found was essential to progress through the area. Each of the warrior forms has only a limited arsenal of moves at its disposal, but by using them all together we were able to defeat enemies and get past obstacles that none of Kameo's individual forms were capable of dealing with individually. Some of the techniques used to progress through the level weren't immediately obvious to us until we found hint pages strewn around the level that told us more or less exactly what we needed to do. We're pretty sure we would have done even better had we been more familiar with these different abilities.

One of the puzzles referred to by a hint page, for example, involved a series of locked gates that could be raised only a tiny bit by shooting at a crystal with Chilla's icy projectile attack and then bypassed using Pummelweed's "creeper" ability to slip under the gap. In addition to making Pummelweed much shorter for a time, the creeper ability is effectively a stealth technique, which made it useful when we needed to sneak up on trolls that were hiding underneath armored shells so that we could smack their hiding places into the air before finishing them off.

Our favorite character when it came to dealing with enemies was undoubtedly Chilla, not only because he can impale enemies on the spikes on his back, but because he can then pull those enemies from his back and use them as clubs or projectiles against other bad guys. Chilla was able to deal with almost all the enemies that we encountered during our time with Kameo: Elements of Power, although the trolls with spherical armor were a problem for everyone but Armadillo.

One of Armadillo's special abilities lets him charge up a powerful spin maneuver that can be used to attack enemies, jump across gaps, negotiate skatepark-style ramps, and such. Using this technique, we were able to target the aforementioned trolls as if they were cue balls on a billiards table and send them flying either into a large fire or clear off the castle walls. Barrels full of burning oil that could be tipped over offered an alternative solution to many of the techniques we used against enemies, but they were also potentially dangerous to us.

Kameo: Elements of Power is a real showcase for the Xbox 360 in terms of its visuals, which not only are nicely stylized but also take advantage of numerous advanced graphics techniques. Its action-packed but methodical gameplay might not be for everyone, though, and it's perhaps worth noting that there are more buttons devoted to switching between Kameo and her various warrior forms (four face buttons) than there are devoted to performing her abilities (two shoulder buttons).

Nevertheless, we enjoyed the time we spent with Kameo on this occasion, and we look forward to bringing you a more in-depth preview of the game. According to Rare, development on Kameo is now complete, and the game should launch day and date with the Xbox 360 both in Europe and in the US.

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