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Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction


The now 5 year old Ben 10 franchise has seen constant popularity on the Cartoon Network and attempts have been made to translate that following into sales on video game consoles. The latest is Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction from D3Publisher released for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP and PS2. For those unfamiliar with the Ben 10 series, it began in 2005 and has seen two series follow-ups as well as an original movie for the Cartoon Network. The story follows the travails of a young boy named Ben Tennyson and the device called the Omnitrix that latched itself onto his wrist. The device gives Ben the capability to morph into new alien life forms, each that has their own set of powers / abilities. Or course, thereís evil in the Universe that comes to Earth and itís up to Ben to protect the innocent. As the story progresses, the Omnitrix gets destroyed and a now 16 year old Ben must learn to control the Ultimatrix, an amped up version of his previous device. This is where Ben 10: Ultimate Alien kicks off and is the basis of the game. Unfortunately, the game does an absolutely horrific job of explaining any of this and itís really only designed for people that are loyal fans of the show.

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The game is structured as an action-adventure platformer with puzzle elements tossed in from time to time. You have the ability to transform into different aliens on the fly and navigate around the levels. Different alien forms have different moving abilities, hence you have to know what to turn into to jump to a high ledge or open doors that require multiple open switches. One helpful hint the developer offers are the names of the aliens that would be useful to utilize before each level begins. This is especially helpful if you have never seen the cartoon and donít understand the abilities of each character. As you progress though the levels, you can upgrade these powers if you so choose.

One of the biggest problems of the game is that is doesnít differentiate itself in the sea of platformers. Thereís nothing very unique or original about the combat or the puzzles. Thereís little challenge to be found in the game as well. Fanatics of the show are likely to race through the title in a couple days, assuming they already know what each alien can do. There are very little rewards for fans of the show though. I could see value if completing the game unlocked an exclusive 10 minute extension of the series, but thereís really no point to finishing the main campaign. There is no online or local multiplayer that comes with the game, something thatís sorely needed for a reason to keep playing beyond running through the campaign.

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Graphics

This game performs terribly on the Playstation Portable, namely slowdown problems, a general lack of detail in the character models and crappy camera angles. I realize that the platform has limits, but going from a platformer as detailed at Little Big Planet to something as bland as Ben 10 is disappointing to say the least. There is also a vast array of clipping issues during combat and general navigation of the level environments. Loading times are also below average for a PSP platformer.

Audio

The publisher / developer did get the rights to the Ben 10 franchise audio, so this is the brightest portion of the title. You are looking at a complete array of professionally recorded voicework from the original actors as well as music from the animated TV show. The sound effects are forgettable, but at least the voices will make you believe that you are actually watching the TV show rather than playing a below average game.

Conclusion

Clearly, there wasnít a ton of time put into the development and launch of Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction for the PSP. I havenít played the same game on the main consoles, but I imagine the story and general gameplay structure is going to be at least identical to the PS2 and PS3 versions. The main problems with the game are the absence of a descriptive presentation, unimaginative gameplay, graphical performance issues and no replay value due to the lack of extras or a multiplayer mode. For those reasons, I canít recommend Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction to even the most ardent fans of the series.



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