Ben Tennyson, aka Ben 10, is a popular Cartoon Network hero who I've only recently become familiar with thanks to a new game from Papaya and D3. Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction is a third person action adventure that features Ben and his pals trying to save Earth from certain destruction. While it does have its shortcomings, this newest Ben 10 title is still fun, and it also retails for $40.
I had only seen and experienced glimpses of the Ben 10 franchise over the years but I was looking forward to playing this game when it came in for review. Reason being, even though I'm not the target audience, I often find these games based on cartoons to be great 'in between' titles. In other words, they're generally quick, fun, and satisfying. Every once in a while, especially between two longer, more difficult mature titles, they're enjoyable.
The major gameplay element featured in Cosmic Destruction is the ability of Ben to instantly transform into some of his alien forms. Each mission, there are about ten, require you to choose four aliens for Ben to use during the course of that mission. The game will recommend a group to use, and not surprisingly, that bunch tends to be your safest bet. Each alien form has a different appearance, voice, and four special attacks, and they also have different specific uses that you will need to call upon during a mission. For example, Humungousaur is your super-strong character who can move objects and turn massive mechanical cranks. There is also Big Chill who can put out fires and glide from platform to platform, and NRG can walk through fire and radioactive areas. Players can switch between the aliens instantly by press L2 and a direction on the right stick. You can also customize which direction corresponds to which alien. Being able to instantly transform while running or jumping is quite nice and can lead to some powerful combos. On that note there are Trophies for getting 10, 25, 50, and 100 hit combos.
Every alien that Ben can turn into has four special moves as well as three attributes including Strength, Speed, and Defense. Some aliens are also able to turn into their Ultimate versions such as Big Chill, Echo Echo, SwampFire (my favorite) and Humungousaur at scripted times to help Ben take care of hordes of enemies or a boss. The special moves and attributes can be upgraded several times over to increase their effectiveness. Upgrades are can be purchased at anytime, and they can also be automated for you should you so desire (which isn't a bad choice for experienced and casual players alike).
The more upgrades you buy, the more expensive they get, but the amount of currency, in this case DNA, that you find in the game also increases as you play. DNA is found in breakable objects and is also received in defeating enemies. Breakable objects are an important part of playing Cosmic Destruction. Each mission has a variety of different objects you can smash, and each one contains health and DNA. I liked the fact that any character, including Ben 10 himself, could destroy any object, so you didn't have to switch to a specific alien form just to break a certain object (well, except for walls).
The story of the game has Ben and his team tracking down the pieces of a long-hidden artifact that Azimuth and his Galvan people placed on Earth many centuries earlier. This artifact is thought to be the key to stop an oncoming cosmic storm that threatens the very existence of Earth. These pieces are all across the globe, so players will guide Ben through places like France and China to locate the artifact fragments.
Along the way, Ben will encounter several hundred enemies. These enemies are all location specific, so for example you will fight terra cotta soldiers while at the Great Wall, but you won't find them anywhere else. While the enemy appearances change from location to location, the types don't, and you will discover your typical variety of weak melee, weak ranged, medium melee, and strong enemies. There are also generally two boss fights per mission that pit Ben against a bounty hunter who is also in search of the artifacts. These boss fights require you to use your different alien forms and may include quick time button matching events too.
I thought the missions did a pretty good job of getting the different alien forms involved. The different aliens are needed for all elements of the game which include simple puzzle solving, platforming, and combat. The story is kind of formulaic, but it works and along with the linear mission design and simple fun to be had here, it'll keep you playing right on through.
Presentation And Conclusion
Cosmic Destruction looks okay, but I wouldn't call it impressive. From the get go I noticed some clunkiness with the motion of the playable characters and some framerate issues as well. Neither of these is a game breaker, but they are noticeable and it just reminds you that this isn't a AAA production, which is fine, but still worth pointing out. That said, most of the animations are smooth and look good and the game certainly doesn't look bad, just underwhelming. As for the sounds, the voices are accurate to the show and the effects are fine. The music is actually pretty good too, although it loops quite a bit, so the tracks themselves seem to be very short.
There are no multiplayer options or additional modes of play beyond the campaign, which only took me around 7 hours to beat. Granted, I was moving through at a steady clip and a younger audience may take longer to play through it (and are also more likely to play through it again).
Overall, Ben 10: Cosmic Destruction is a straight-forward, fun game. Let's get to the summary...