Ever since Ben 10 aired in 2005, it's become a rather successful franchise for the Cartoon Network and like all great licences, it has also been turned into numerous video games. Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction is actually the fifth Ben 10 video game, but it's the first for the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien series, which only started airing earlier this year. It gave the developers a chance to play around with Ben's new toy, the Ultimatrix, which of course, replaced the destroyed Omnimatrix. However, even that won't be enough to tackle his latest challenge.
After hearing of small disturbances around the world, Ben goes off to check them out, but ignores the warnings of impending doom from his biggest fan, Jimmy. Things escalate quite quickly though as a cloud of Cosmic Destruction, engineered by To'kustar, is gradually making its way through the solar system, even destroying planets like Pluto. Eventually Ben realises what's going on, following the guidance of Azmuth and sets out on a quest to find some artifacts that can enhance the power of the Ultimatrix.
It's exactly the kind of plot that you'd actually expect to find in an episode of Ben 10 Ultimate Alien, and the combined length of the cutscenes is probably about the same length. There are some suitably cheesy dialogue lines and overall, the story is perfect for the show's IP.
Suitable story aside, the gameplay is where the game starts to encounter some problems, mostly because it does almost everything in a sub-standard way. The game basically sets itself up as a brawler, although there are some platforming elements along the way too. However, there is essentially just one button worth using most of the time, the attack button. There is a counter button, which is useful for defeating certain enemy types and dodging (if it'll work), but the best form of defence is usually being offensive yourself.
The combo system isn't too bad, but to carry it on you really need to be able to perform blocks and counters - something which isn't overly challenging in theory. When an enemy is about to attack, a green symbol appears over their head and if you press it in time, they will be counter attacked. However, quite often enemies will go off screen, so you can't see this happening and if you react too late, you won't be able to counter. Some enemies also just ignore the fact you're blocking and this can be rather annoying. They don't necessarily hit you, but defeating some enemies requires countering their move and if you can't counter them, things can become a bit frustrating.
The main appeal of Cosmic Destruction of course, comes from changing into the different alien forms. Once you do so, you'll gain access to each of their four unique moves. They generally take similar forms, like a projectile attack, but some aliens, like Echo Echo, have the ability to be able to create clones that can also fight against enemies or pose as a distraction. Terraspin can also use his speed move to fire himself across open spaces like a projectile.
Before each level starts, you'll have a chance to select four aliens to take on your travels, although you can change these aliens at any time. The game will give you a recommended setup and it's generally best to stick to this, as the levels involve puzzle and platforming elements that only certain aliens can conquer. For example, if heavy lifting is required, then you'll need to use Humungousaur; if there's hazardous waster, you'll need to use NRG, etc. It makes the game a bit more interesting as you'll get to try each of the aliens out. The lack of restriction on selection is also nice, because there are various aliens who can perform similar tasks, such as Big Chill and Water Hazard, who can both climb objects.
The puzzles will often be relatively simple, but this is to be expected and shouldn't be seen as a negative. However, most of the platforming elements are sub-standard, which is mostly because of poor production than anything else. Sometimes your alien will land on a platform and slowly slide off because you didn't land perfectly on it and at other times, they won't grab on to ledges unless you land on them in a certain way - it can be rather annoying.
Every level lasts around 30-45 minutes and at the end, you'll square off against a boss character. Some of the boss fights can be rather fun, but others can be a bit of a frustrating affair, again because things don't work as they should. It's annoying to fire projectiles at a platform and have it constantly miss. There are also some fun moments where the Ultimatrix comes into play by allowing Ben to control enhanced versions of specific aliens, but these are usually surrounded by some rather bland quick-time events.
The game is hounded by a plethora of production issues and it's probably best to sum it up with this shining example. There are next to no meaningful sound effects throughout the game. When you hit an opponent nothing happens; you can go through an entire fight with your eyes closed and be none the wiser what's actually happening. It's rather odd to say the least. Corners have also been severely cut with regards to animation too. If a character flips a switch, the switch will move and the character's arm won't - it's just really lazy work.
You get DNA throughout the campaign which you can use to upgrade your aliens' stats and moves, but upon completing the game there isn't really much to do aside from playing through again with your upgraded aliens. You do get the chance to play as a completely new alien, but it's not a big highlight.
Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction has a few nice gameplay elements, but almost all of them are marred by production values that can only really be considered a disaster. The sound doesn't work properly and animations are glaringly absent - it's really quite poor. The story is at least good though and there are some small glimpses of a game which, given the proper treatment, could be a pretty decent property. Hopefully the next game can be a step-up.