Ben 10: Protector of Earth PlayStation 2 & PSP
Published by: D3Publisher
Developed by: High Voltage Software
Release Date: Out Now
Ben 10: Protector of Earth allows you to play as Ben Tennyson, the 10-year old boy equipped with the wrist watch-like device known as the Omnitrix which allows him to transform into one of ten alien superheroes. The game begins with Ben, his cousin Gwen and his grandfather, Max on holiday in Max's RV. Whilst Ben is asleep in the RV a small insect-like robot extracts power from the Omnitrix causing Ben to lose most of his alien superheroes. In fact when the need for battle arises, Ben only has two alien superheroes (Fourarms and Heatblast) at his disposal.
Games that are based on children's films and animated shows are usually 3D action adventure games. High Voltage decided to take a different route with Ben 10: Protector of Earth. Essentially, the game is a side-scrolling fighting game with some platform elements thrown in. In classic side-scrolling fighting game tradition, you'll defeat the enemies on screen before a 'Go' message appears to indicate that you can progress. You'll also have to deal with the occasional environmental puzzle which requires you to use the appropriate alien superhero (these superheroes can be upgraded during the course of the game). You'll also fight God of War style boss fights. During these fights, at certain points during the battle, you'll need to transform back into Ben and press the circle button in order to initiate a phase where you have to press the correct buttons at the appropriate time in order to deal a lot of damage to the boss.
Protector of Earth has its problems. Probably the biggest disappointment for Ben 10 fans is that only five of the alien superheroes are available. Granted, Ben loses all but two of his superheroes at the start of the game but during the course of the game he only acquires three more. To exclude half of the alien superheroes from the game seems like a crazy decision and one that's sure to upset Ben 10 fans. The combat is very repetitive and on two out of the three available difficulty settings doesn’t pose much of a challenge. Once you figure out that it's good to switch to Ben for a few seconds when an alien transformation is low on health so that you can switch back to find that the alien transformation will have a full health bar, the challenge mostly disappears from the game. The game boasts 80+ combos but in truth simple button bashing will usually get you through. The platform game elements have been poorly implemented and at times are a real pain. Failing to make a jump results in instant death; fortunately should you come a cropper you don't have to backtrack much at all. On occasion it feels as though you are making blind jumps because you can barely see where you have to jump to. If we were being fussy we would also suggest that something more than a threadbare plot was necessary to make things more interesting.
From a presentational point of view there's not a lot to fault Ben 10: Protector of Earth for. The game uses a cel-shaded style look which is no surprise seeing as the game is based on an animated TV show. None of the game's characters or levels are particularly detailed but they look good enough and there doesn't appear to be any performance issues. Both versions of the game look as good to be honest. The cutscenes on the PSP version are shown in 4:3 format leaving unsightly black borders on either side of the screen. Both versions of the game are subtitled although the subtitles aren't enabled by default. You'll be able to follow the game's storyline thanks to the cutscenes being subtitled. The subtitles are displayed a little before the dialogue is spoken in the PSP version and you'll have to read them quite quickly as they don't stay on display for long (they don't disappear quite so quickly on the PS2 version). Communications describing the enemies you'll come across are subtitled (in fact there is no speech on the PSP version for these communications) and you'll see a character portrait of the person who is talking, so you'll know who is saying what. All tutorial messages are shown in text. The Omnitrix turns green to indicate when you can call on the power of an alien transformation. In fact the game won't give deaf gamers any real problems.
Ben 10: Protector of Earth is definitely a game that's squarely aimed at fans of the animated TV show. It's probably a little surprising then than the developers made the decision to exclude half of the alien superheroes. Some of the five that are missing are bound to be favourites with some fans and they would be justified in being unhappy with the absence of their favourite transformation. The game's storyline could have been more interesting and the platform game elements could have been more forgiving. In many ways Ben 10: Protector of Earth is a mediocre game. Those who don't watch Ben 10 won't be interested and those who do will be disappointed that half of the alien superheroes have been left out. As it stands, Ben 10: Protector of Earth is a middling affair which is a shame because it could, and should, have been much better.