For this teenager, saving the world is a full-time job.
The world needs saving once again, and who better to do it than a sixteen-year old boy named Ben Tennyson? He began his galaxy-saving career at the young age of ten in his first original animated television series, Ben 10. It all started on a summer camping trip with his cousin and grandfather, when Ben discovered an alien artifact called the Omnitrix. This mysterious device bound itself to Ben, granting him the ability to transform into other alien life forms with incredible powers. Knowing that he had just inherited a great responsibility, he decided it was best to use his powers for good (and the occasional silly antic) to help rid the universe of evil.
The Ben 10 franchise became successful after their start in 2005, and later expanded to tell the stories of his older-age escapades. The original series was followed by Ben 10: Alien Force, which took place five years later in the story’s canon. The creators of the series decided to take a more mature approach in telling Ben’s story, and dealt with the more common aspects of teenage life, even including character death for the first time in the franchise. This series was later followed by the third and most current installment, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, which brought the story forward one year to Ben’s current age of sixteen. At the beginning of the new series, Ben was granted a new version of the Omnitrix, called the Ultimatrix, after the original was destroyed. This updated artifact gave Ben all of his previous abilities, but with the new capability to transform into more powerful “Ultimate” versions of his alien forms.
Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction is currently the fifth video game in the Ben 10 franchise, an all-new adventure separate from the television series canon. This iteration of the story has Ben spanning the globe through several real-world locations in search of ancient Galvan artifacts to save the world from an impending doom. Unless you’re already a fan of the franchise, then you’d probably have no idea what is going on when it comes to the plot. The story is presented in a manner that doesn’t bode well for newcomers, and is obviously only targeted for their already established demographic. However, story isn’t always everything, and as long as the gameplay can hold up you can still have a decent experience.
Problem solving is a key element of the gameplay in Cosmic Destruction, and it coincides with the many alien transformations at your disposal. Each form has different abilities that are needed in order to progress through each stage. Although you can only select four at a time, you can pick any combination of aliens you wish before each mission. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t well-done. If you stray from any of the three “recommended” forms they give you, then you’ll likely get stuck at some point during a level. The only form you can change without any real consequence is the “optional” suggestion. It’s strange the developers decided to give such freedom in character selection, considering that you can’t complete levels without using the recommended forms.
The puzzles in the game can range anywhere from laughably easy to downright frustrating. The same also goes for some of its platforming moments. There are sections in which you need to have spot-on timing to dodge or jump through an obstacle, or instances when a puzzle is only solved through random experiments. These occasions weren’t frequent, but it was enough to make the experience a little less enjoyable. However, if you have enough patience and persistence to stick through these junctures, then most of these scenarios can actually be quite fun.
Early on in the game, the combat feels weak, but as you progress and reach more difficult enemies it can be somewhat rewarding, while still very simple. It’s a button-masher at heart, and small combos can be strung together by pressing the same button multiple times. However, a few tougher enemies can only be beaten with well-timed counter-moves, and a large group of baddies can swarm you to make matters worse. This is where your alien’s unique abilities can come in handy. Each form has four different special attacks from which to choose. Two are varying melee assaults, which can unleash multiple combos, another is an area attack for when you’re surrounded by enemies, and the last is a ranged attack. Every form’s ability starts off small but can be upgraded during the game by collecting DNA.
DNA allows you to enhance different aspects of each alien in your group. It can be obtained by defeating various foes throughout the game, as well as when destroying breakable objects in the environment. Once you’ve collected enough points, they can be allocated to increase an alien’s powers, or their attributes of strength, speed, and defense. There is also an “auto upgrade” option within the upgrade menu that will apply points to the four current aliens in your command. This comes in handy for those who don’t wish to micromanage the progression of each individual form.
The controls in Cosmic Destruction are simple and easy, and switching between aliens on the fly is smooth. The camera angles can get a bit annoying when moving between tight spaces, and you can get lost behind objects easily. However, if you get misdirected, there is a “point of interest” button that can snap you back on target. Unfortunately, the general presentation of the game is poor, and the camera is only minor problem in comparison.
The game is graphically inferior to the vast majority of console titles these days. This could be, in part, due to the fact that it’s being released across six different platforms including the Wii, PlayStation 2, DS and PSP. The game has some pretty frequent frame rate issues in addition to the occasional lock-up, which requires a restart and will set you back some progress. Thankfully, the checkpoint system is forgiving and you won’t lose much.
The voice-acting audio is also recorded at very low-quality. Some cutscene dialogue sounds distorted and the volume levels aren’t mixed well. However, the voice-acting itself is very well-done, considering. All of the principal cast from the television series is present and accounted for, and is even backed with dialogue from the original writers of the show.
The game as a whole feels unpolished, but the overall adventure is a fun one. Long time fans of the Ben 10 series should have no trouble jumping into this game and having a blast. The majority of followers will be able to look past the game’s glaring faults. There are ten different playable aliens from the series and unlockable exclusive characters (Fourarms in the PS3 version and Rath in the X360 version) in addition to a few trophy/achievement collectibles to keep admirers occupied.
Newcomers will most likely find a shallow experience with little-to-no replay value. The campaign is a bit short, clocking-in at roughly six to eight hours depending on skill, and the story will leave most with a blank-stare of confusion. If you choose to spend your time playing this game, you’ll be on one side of the fence or the other. Just make sure you know which side you’re on before you decide to make it a purchase or a rental.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.2 Graphics
There is nothing current-gen about it, and it may not even be an improvement over last-gen titles. 4.0 Control
The controls are very simple and easy to use, not to mention smoothly executed, with the exception of a quirky camera. 1.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I could have recorded and mixed the voice over with better quality on my laptop and Garage Band. No joke. 3.0 Play Value
Fans of the franchise will find something fun to work with here, but everyone else will be left with nothing but confusion. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.