Ben 10: Protector of Earth PS2 Review

When I was growing up I always wanted to be a Power Ranger or a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle, so if I could have transformed into a hero with a motorcycle helmet on or a tall scaly turtle, I would have been swinging from a lampshade with joy. Sadly, action figures and my wild and inventive imagination were the only way in which to role-play as my favourite heroes. Ben Tennyson is the main character of both the Ben 10 game and cartoon show, and he’s one little lad that doesn’t need an elastic imagination to play out his childhood superhero fantasies. Lucky him.

I could just imagine the development team of Ben 10: Protector of Earth having a notice board with a checklist of things not to forget in a licensed game, such is Ben 10’s faithfulness to the Cartoon Network show of the same name. Fans will be over the moon with hearing the same voices and theme tune, seeing familiar characters and being able to transform into powerful alien life forms. There‘s actually only five of these alien life forms though, whilst there’s ten in the series, so this may have young fans in a bit of a paddy. Perhaps the other five are something for the sequel, eh?

Apparently Ben is able to transform into these aliens by using the Omnitrix (don’t bother looking this up in the dictionary), a watch-like device that he found in the first episode of the show. Names such as Heatblast, Fourarms, XLR 8, Cannonbolt and Wildvine will make sense to fans of Ben 10, whilst to the rest of us they sound like rejects from the X-Men. Each of the five forms have their own unique individual skills, whilst Ben himself is pretty much useless other than being able to avoid his enemies by rolling around and throwing some rather pitiful kicks and punches.

You see, for the majority of the time you can remain transformed as any one of these life forms, unless you don’t take too much damage or overuse your special attacks and combos that is, as doing so returns Ben to his much more vulnerable human form. So we have Heatblast, a fiery form with fiery attacks and most likely a fiery temper. Fourarms has, uh, more than two arms and has the strength to go with it. XLR 8 is as speedy as the Roadrunner. Cannonbolt can tuck himself into a ball, and finally Wildvine is some sort of plant who can fire off explosive seeds. No wonder they were fired from the X-Men, that’s all I can say.

You won’t only be using their skills during combat situations, but during quieter moments as well. Heatblast can absorb flames, Fourarms can move things around with his strength, XLR 8 can quickly move to say, a line of switches, Cannonbolt can shoot up ramps and finally Wildvine can swing around certain points of the rather bland levels. Returning to levels is worthwhile upon unlocking different forms as you can reach and get to areas of the stages that were previously inaccessible, and perhaps get that collectible that has been waiting patiently for your return.

Moving on, the combat is decent enough with a host of combos to unlock, although stabbing the attack buttons with your finger rarely seems to fail, it’s always nice to know that you can mix things up every now and again. Switching between life forms is also something that shouldn’t be ignored during combat, and in some ways you can come up with your own strategies to defeat the grunts as well as the often much bigger bosses.

The game has a drop in and out cooperative mode, wherein two Ben’s appear on the screen at once. It works well enough, although as both Ben’s look alike whether in human or alien form things can get rather confusing. It’s a good job that there’s an individually coloured circle marker under the feet of each Ben then, although I still think it’s a lazy design decision and completely different coloured characters would have been better suited.

I didn’t only find the game overly repetitive after awhile though, I also realised that I was soon rather bored with it all, and such comments are all the more highlighted when I went back to play other kids games such as the recent brilliance of Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (take your pick, as it’s on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii or DS). Sure, Ben 10: Protector of Earth looks nice, plays decently enough and is priced at only £19.99, but I very much doubt it will have much widespread appeal beyond Ben 10 fans or parents on a tight financial budget.