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PSP  header logo

Ben 10: Protector of Earth

For: PSP   Also on: DS

Ten minutes is quite enough

Product: Ben 10: Protector of Earth | Developer: High Voltage | Publisher: D3Publisher | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Ben 10: Protector of Earth PSP, thumbnail 1
What's the similarity between a plate of spaghetti bolognese, a quiz show and a scrolling beat-'em-up? Easy: they're all the first refuge for the unimaginative.

Just as a lazy cook will rely on a simple dish or a TV producer the predictable pulling power of a quiz show, so will the game publisher rustle up a scrolling beat-'em-up given half the chance. Of course, scrolling beat-'em-ups don't always turn out bad, but where a licence is involved there's rarely a happy ending.

Not only does a scrolling brawler adapt itself to practically any setting or story but it ticks all the boxes when it comes to a balance between action and character. Given Ben 10's premise and content it was a natural shoe-in to this genre, but even after just ten minutes you'll feel like you've experienced everything the game has to offer.

For those without satellite TV (or children), the game is based on the popular Cartoon Network series of the same name. The hero, Ben Tennyson, discovers a watch-like device called the Omnitrix which when triggered allows him to change into ten different aliens. Cue crazy adventures and opportunities for spin-offs and merchandise.

Peculiarly though, this video game interpretation only allows Ben to take five different lifeforms: Heatblast, Forearms, Cannonbolt, Wildvine and XLR8. While each grants a number of special skills and attacks, there's definitely a sense that the player is being short-changed. It's not criminal enough to bring a prosecution via the Trade Descriptions Act but perhaps 'Ben 5' or 'Protector of Earth: Redux' might have been a more accurate title.

In truth, the five alien life-forms you can transform into are more than adequate. There's Heatblast with his ability to throw out a ray of fire, Wildvine with a Mr Tickle-style long arm attack, Cannonbolt with his rolling destruction, Forearms for strength and  XLR8 (text speak for 'accelerate' we presume) with the ability to whiz around the screen damaging everything in its path.

Describing the gameplay is a little like telling you how to put on a coat. No doubt you've played so many scrolling beat-'em-ups that the mechanics and principles will be familiar. Unfortunately, Ben 10 doesn't veer from the tried-and-tested formula of a block, a soft attack and a hard attack. Hit buttons fast enough and you'll dispatch enemies. Hit buttons in a certain order and you'll trigger slightly more powerful combos.

While everything works adequately, skill is never encouraged. Because hitting buttons freely and randomly is enough to get you through most stages you won't bother trying to strategise or adapt your attacks to enemy type. While some of Ben's alien-form special abilities are context sensitive (i.e. Heatblast can extinguish flames blocking a doorway), for the most part you can progress through the game by hitting the Square button.

On a positive note, the production values are very high. The cartoon cut-scenes are superb and graphically the game shines. The range of enemies is impressive and they're introduced with clever fact files before they begin pummelling you. It's just a pity they can all be defeated with much the same strategy.

Occasionally a boss fight crops up and while these do have an impressive God of War-style grandeur they go on for too long and ask you to repeat the same series of moves until you're almost thankful to be back to the scrolling stages.

The entire game feels like you're on a conveyor belt of predictability, moving inevitably towards the conclusion and with very few surprises along the way. It's the epitome of average: the game does nothing badly, but neither does it do anything particularly well.

We should point out that while the ease of progress is most definitely a negative point if you're a seasoned gamer, Ben 10 is clearly aimed at a pre-teen audience and younger folks will probably get more pleasure out of the game. There are far better games on PSP for this demographic (Lego Star Wars II to name just one) but as a licence Ben 10 serves its source material adequately, without ever doing anything memorable or exciting.
 
Ben 10: Protector of Earth
Reviewer photo
Mark Walbank | 7 December 2007
A polished tie-in for pre-teens but it's singularly lacking in ideas, imagination or depth
 
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