|System: PS2, Wii, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: High Voltage Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 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: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
Last year I wrote the review for Ben 10: Protector of Earth. While that game was a little flawed, it was a decent enough experience. Except for my one major complaint of it being Ben 5 and not Ben 10. This year, with Ben 10: Alien Force, the inaccurate tradition of naming the game Ben 10 when it is only using five of the transformations continues. However, does it continue the follies of the previous title or does it grow in a better way? Read on to find out more.
Ben 10: Alien Force is based on the newest hit and incarnation of the Ben 10 franchise. Ben Tennyson and his cousin Gwen are a couple years older now. Ben has removed the Omnitrix and hasnt gone hero in some time, but new threats arise, and he is once again thrust into the world of aliens and various other monsters. Ben and his cousin are joined in their adventures by once major villain Kevin Levin, who has lost his ability to use Bens previous absorbed abilities but can now absorb the material texture of things he touches. They started looking for Grandpa Max by fighting what Ben and the crew have started calling DNAliens. This is also where the game takes place.
Instead of taking one of the stories from the show, Ben 10: Alien Force tells its own story. Its difficult to tell when the story takes place in accordance with the show, but there are hints and a few plot devices that point to it taking place sometime around episode six of the first season. I say this because episode six was a very complicated story and showed an extreme growth in the characters, but I wont spoil it for those who havent experienced the show. However, the games story involves the trio being sidetracked and running into the Forever Knights. From there, it spirals out, allowing you to eventually take on some DNAliens and even the nasty Highbreed.
As I mentioned earlier, you will eventually be able to assume the identity of five of the ten alien forms that Ben can assume in the show. Granted, this time around they are the more popular forms; Swampfire, Big Chill, Spidermonkey, Jetray, and Humongousaur. Last year, you were three of the popular ones and two others that were lower on the rungs of coolness, so being at least five of the more popular ones was a nice change. Again though, I have to say, not being able to be all ten, especially one of my favorites, Echo Echo, really irritated me.
All complaining aside, there is a great balance with the characters. Instead of having a "be all" character that can do it all, you will have certain puzzles and challenges that require you to be each one of the five aliens. For example, there will be instances where you will have to be Big Chill in order to glide to a new level, followed by being Spidermonkey to climb along vines and other foliage. The balance filters over into your hands a little, as you are able to decide how each of the alien forms advances in the game. There are experience orbs you collect throughout the game and, once you have enough, a little screen will pop up and ask you which combo youd like to buy. These combos begin simplistically and remain fairly simple for the combo masters among us. However, they can provide a small challenge for some. Thankfully, Ben 10: Alien Force doesnt require you to become combo savvy to complete even the most difficult stages; you can rely solely on button mashing. Heck, you can even fight only as Ben and complete the levels except in very specific circumstances where you have to be one of the Aliens to surmount an obstacle. This is brought to full realization when you are playing as either Gwen or Kevin. There are levels where you will have to play as them and use their specific talents. However, their combo systems are treated like Ben and the aliens.