IGN Review of BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE The Game
Ben 10, and the following series Ben 10: Alien Force, are some of the more popular animated television shows found on Cartoon Network. Considering the success of the Ben 10 franchise and its subsequent spinoffs, videogame adaptations were inevitable and several have already hit the market. One of the most recent additions to the Ben 10 family is the multiplatform game, Ben 10: Alien Force, which follows hero Ben Tennyson, his cousin Gwen and their mutual friend Kevin Levin, as they attempt to track down pieces of alien technology hidden on Earth as well as unravel the mysterious disappearance of Grandpa Max and the suspicious activities of the Plumber called Gorvan.
Ben 10: Alien Force is not a good game. If you had to put a label on it, Alien Force is a mix of traditional arcade brawling action peppered with a light amount of platforming. Of course, cutscenes are also present to deliver the game's lackluster narrative, which is toted as being a "new story" in the Ben 10: Alien Force universe. Unfortunately, the entire affair is incredibly uninspired and does little to develop the characters presented (though I suppose that's to be expected, considering the fact that they've been developed via the television show). It doesn't help that the pre-rendered cutscenes are terrible looking and almost fall into the "laughable" category. Alien Force could have been a fun, kid-friendly take on the series, but those cutscenes just don't cut it.
You'll spend most of your time in Ben 10: Alien Force controlling Ben Tennyson and his five alien forms. Most levels are linear in nature and have you moving down a path towards some uneventful end goal or confrontation that completely lacks energy. While most of the levels have sections of ridges or pillars to jump across (and a few poorly executed puzzles), most of the terrain is flat and boring and acts as a battleground for the constant fighting you'll be doing against the HighBreed and their minions.
Ben is fairly useless on his own but the five alien forms and their varying powers do come in handy. Ben, using his patented Omnitrix, can transform into Swampfire, Big Chill, Spidermonkey, Jet Ray or Humungousaur -- creatures of varying sizes, each with its own set of special moves to make use of. This is where the whole idea of "missed opportunities" really comes into play. You see, transforming, multi-combo battle sounds like a great idea but it just isn't executed well here... at all. Hit detection and basic character physics feel horrendously cheap and you really don't get any reward for plowing through enemies, besides unlocking more combos to use.
The biggest weakness of Alien Force is the sheer amount of battle you have to engage in, coupled with how repetitive the experience is in general. Levels drag on for what seems like hours and they really should have been adjusted for pacing. By the end of the game's eight stages, combat really does become a colossal chore and that's made even worse when you consider the fact that you're forced to fight (and defeat) every single alien that comes your way. The game actually erects invisible walls constantly to prevent you from progressing through the level, just so you can spend time pummeling away at the poor alien fodder of the HighBreed.
Playing with a second player is also a joke because, instead of letting one player control Ben while the other player controls either Gwen or Kevin, you both play as the same character. There isn't even a palette swap to tell the two apart, making for some very confusing battles.
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