|System: Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monkey Bar Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 28, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
When you are a fan of a movie or television series and a game is released that is based on the property, your excitement is usually tempered with apprehension. Will it stay true to the source material? Will they get the original voice actors? Most importantly, will the game be any good or just a quick cash-in mess that heavily relies on its name to sell rather than its merits as a video game? Luckily, in the case of Ben 10: Alien Force the latter doesn't seem to be entirely the case.
While I can't claim to be the most devout fan of Ben 10, I think Alien Force does a good job remaining true to the series. The story in the game consists of Ben, Gwen, and Kevin running into a Plumber named Gorvan while tracking down a piece of alien technology. Gorvan informs the trio that he is seeking out specific powerful bits of alien technology to keep them out of evil hands and asks for their help. Of course, they quickly accept and start their quest to preserve the safety of the planet. Remaining spoiler free, there are a couple plot twists throughout that help the story remain interesting as you play through the game as well.
The story in Alien Force is delivered through a variety of high quality cutscenes as well as in-game dialogue. The cinemas found in the game are virtually identical to the look of the show and are quite abundant, appearing at least before and after each level with a few taking place during some of the levels. The voices in the game and in the cinematics will also be instantly recognizable to fans, as the show's voice actors have all lent their talents to Alien Force. This adds a nice bit of authenticity to the game, but some of the character's very limited phrases during gameplay can still become incredibly annoying after they've been repeated more times than you'll care to count or hear.
Repetitive is also a good way to define the core of Alien Force's gameplay. The game is a 3D side-scrolling brawler with a few puzzles mixed in to help break up the button mashing. Players will spend most of their time controlling Ben, who is able to use his Omnitrix to change between five of his alien forms, which are Big Chill, Swampfire, Jetray, Spidermonkey, and Humungousaur. These different forms are unlocked over time by completing levels and can also only be used for limited amounts of time. When Ben changes into an alien, a green meter begins to deplete. This meter's exhaustion is further expedited when using combos or taking damage. If the meter runs dry, Ben will revert back to his human form until the meter fills completely again. This meter refills rather quickly and players can also find power-ups that will accelerate the process.
The basics of combat revolve around the square, triangle, and circle buttons being used for different attacks and strung together to form combos. Ben, Gwen, and Kevin all come equipped with a handful of combos, while the aliens' combos will need to be unlocked. Defeating enemies will gain you experience points that will fill a yellow meter on the screen. Every time this meter fills, players will be prompted to unlock a new combo for an alien they already have access to. Fortunately, it is rarely difficult to remember these combos when switching between aliens, as they all use the same sequence and combination of buttons to perform.
The different alien forms and combos help add some much needed variety to the otherwise dull combat. You will face off against countless hordes of fairly similar enemies throughout the game. Each level basically has its own set of enemies such as Forever Knights or DNAliens which come in several different forms. Each enemy set has its weaker and stronger constituents with slightly varying abilities to keep players on their toes. Some enemies may be weaker but have a ranged attack, while others can be slow but pack a serious punch in close combat. This adds a bit of diversity to fights but doesn't fully negate the repetitious nature of the game; you will spend most of the game walking from left to right, waiting for enemies to spawn, defeating them until they eventually stop respawning, and then moving on to the next enemy spawn point.