Ben 10: Alien Force Review
Have you ever played - and enjoyed - a game that you knew was terrible? No matter the answer, this may not be one you want to own up to. Personally, I can think of a handful of games that were just plain terrible, but I ended up playing, finishing and enjoying them, despite the fact that the little voice inside was shrieking, "Stop! This sucks! You have other stuff to play with… why are you wasting your time with this?!" A sampling of those that jump to my mind are Cliffhanger on the Sega Genesis, Ren & Stimpy: Space Cadet Adventures on the original Game Boy, Time Ace on the DS and most recently, Haze on the PS3. After playing Ben 10: Alien Force on the PS2 (also available on other systems, PSP, DS, etc.), I have another painful disaster of a game to add to my list.
Whether you are familiar with the Ben 10 television show or not (I fall into the latter category), Alien Force boasts a "new story" and sufficiently fills in enough background info to keep us uninitiated players in the loop. It might not be a loop you'll admit to friends and loved ones that you're in, but it will make suffering through this game a bit easier. I had to put "story" in quotes, because what exists here is barely paint-by-numbers Saturday morning cartoon fare. The weak story is amplified further by lazy cutscene work, downright awful voice acting and levels that don't really seem to match with the scenes that introduce or follow them.
As I said before, I wasn't familiar with Ben 10 before playing this game, aside from merely knowing that show existed. The premise basically revolves around a kid who can turn into a bunch of different monsters, each with different powers, to help fight bad guys. To me, that seems more like a game than a television program anyway. So how could things go so wrong? The problem is that the game is less than the franchise attached to it, as if the developers knew from the get-go that parents would purchase this for their children, regardless of the game's quality. Why put in the extra effort if you do have to?
Effort is the last thing you'll find in Alien Force. The game is a series of incredibly boring, left-to-right side scrolling beat-em-up stages in the vein of Final Fight or the older Ninja Turtles games. There is a but of jumping thrown in here and there, but mostly, the game requires you to get from arbitrary point a to arbitrary point b, beat up everyone between the two points and maybe hop around for a second to reach a goal.