Having only seen five or ten minutes here or there of the Ben 10 cartoons over the years (my brother, now 14, used to watch it), I got the game to review, on the assumption that I'd know what I was talking about. How wrong I was. The Omnitrix has been replaced by it's more powerful bigger brother, the Ultimatrix - although it still serves the same purpose, acting as a glorified bracelet/watch-thingy that lets Ben turn into a variety of alien critters. The aliens have changed too - Four arms, Ditto and Heatblast have been replaced with Humungousaur, Echo and Swampfire - even though they do seem to have very similar powers. And who the heck is Kevin?
What Terraspin lacks in the head department, he certainly makes up for with arms.
Those things aside, I would imagine 'Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction' would make perfect sense to those who've seen the TV series, which is probably who it's been intended for, anyway. For the uninitiated, however, a teeny tiny bit more explanation would go a long way. In fact, it was only after researching for writing this review, I found out that in the game you're supposed to be on the search for 'an ancient alien artefact' to save humanity from a massive cosmic storm. This alien artefact has been broken into pieces, and scattered across the globe, so Ben Tennyson needs to scour the planet in search of the pieces, defeating a load of bosses that all already seem to know him from somewhere (presumably the TV show) as he goes. And some of these bosses seem to be after the artefact bits too - presumably for their own nefarious deeds.
The levels themselves let you pick any 4 of Ben's alien transformations at the start, although you're probably best just sticking with the ones it suggests, as you'll often need a specific alien's special ability to progress through the level. For example, Humungousaur is a massive, tall guy, with biceps the size of a bus, who looks a bit like The Incredible Hulk with a fake tan, and is able to push massive objects with ease (one handed too!), as well as having the ability to smash through certain breakable walls. Terraspin is a massive turtle who can do a crazy spinning double jump and hover in mid air, and Echo Echo is a tiny white thing who is able to create clones of himself, which comes in handy when you have two switches that need to be pulled at the same time. And thanks to his small stature, he can also fit through the small tunnels (often covered by grates you'll need to punch out the way first) you'll find littered through the levels. The levels are relatively straightforward get-from-A-to-B affairs, where you'll need to fight a ton of monsters, solve a fair few alien-transformation related puzzles and pull off some crazy platforming - but even though the levels are quite linear, there is a little room for exploring, as the collectable 'Sumo Slammer' cards are often slightly off the beaten track.
Humugasaur - what happens when The Incredible Hulk spends too much time with David Dickinson.
The puzzles in the levels are relatively simple, and involve things like using Humungousaur's strength to fit a bell-shaped rock sculpture into a bell-shaped hole in a door to get it to open, or pulling a switch to open a skylight, so that the sun outside can shine down onto the platforms below, highlighting the trick platforms - landing on one of these will send you plummeting to your doom. The bosses often require some element of puzzle solving too - for example, to defeat the crazy knight man, Enoch, you need to first disable the shield bubble he's standing in. To do this, you need to push four stone pillars into the platform he's on - although you'll need to clear a path for them first, by destroying some rocks with Humungousaur, or activating a pair of switches with Echo Echo. Once you destroy his shield bubble, he seems more than a little bit annoyed, and starts a fight with Ben Tennyson, which, considering he has 17 aliens under his - er - wrist, is never going to end well.
As you progress through the game, you'll accumulate DNA - the game's currency - from breaking the objects in the levels and defeating enemies, which you can then use to upgrade each of your aliens. You can choose to upgrade their strength, speed or defence, or increase their level in any of their four special attacks - and with 17 different alien forms available in the game, that's a lot of DNA you'll need to accumulate if you want to upgrade them all (and there's an achievement in it if you do).
Controls are quite simple - the X button attacks, B interacts with various objects, A jumps and the Y button blocks, or can initiate a counter attack, if you press it when a green splodge appears above an enemies head. LT brings up the alien selection wheel, and pointing the right stick at the alien you want will select them - choosing a direction once will transform Ben into the alien and selecting the same direction a second time will change him back to Ben. Oh, and for some reason the game likes to announce which alien you've just chosen.
Water Hazard looks like a Power Ranger gone wrong...
One massive thing the game seems to be missing out on is a lack of co-op mode - Ben has a cousin called Gwen, who can apparently use magic (if my research is correct). Having her as a second playable character, who could use her magic to help solve some of the puzzles would have given the game a sort of LEGO-style co-op, and LEGO games are awesome.
But other than that, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction is a decent game, and is likely to be appreciated by fans of the series, although the lack of explanation of what's going on may put others off. The platforming and puzzles are quite fun, and the ability to upgrade your aliens and the collectable 'Sumo Slammer' cards give you reasons to scour every inch of the level for a smashable box or hidden corner of the level. And despite the general consensus that all kid's film/TV tie-in games suck, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction is proof that they don't.