The latest tie-in to the Ben 10 television series, Ben 10 Omniverse 2 is a serviceable title that falls prey to many of the issues that plague licensed games. It's a shame, too, because the creative, action-packed world and characters of the series certainly would lend themselves well to a video game. Developer 1st Playable Productions has a few good ideas present, but the tedious level design, slow gameplay, bare bones presentation and incoherent story make Ben 10 Omniverse 2 a game only young fans of the series will be able to appreciate.
Ben 10 Omniverse 2 is a side-scrolling platformer/brawler starring Ben Tennyson, a wise-cracking teenager who, though slight in stature and strength, has the power to transform into different aliens that grant him special powers. The game makes no effort to catch players up on the story of the television series and assumes that everyone already knows the premise and characters, which makes the already paper-thin dialogue sequences at the beginning of levels incoherent to anyone who hasn't seen the show. From what we could gather, Ben is on a mission to stop the amphibian-like Incurseans from conquering Earth and must use his different alien forms to do so. Younger audiences who know the show may get more out of the story, but its primitive presentation will bore them.
Each level follows the same formula. Ben makes his way through the level, avoiding pitfalls and other hazards, while stopping every few moments for a contained fight with several different enemies; these sequences grow old fast. Ben will enter an area, a pink border will prevent him from moving forward in the level, and a ton of enemies will spawn. Ben himself is weak, so he'll need to employ the use of his alien forms, some of which are more useful than others. He collects 16 different alien forms throughout the adventure, each with a unique look and feel (and voice, oddly enough), but we found that only a few of them are truly effective in battle.
Some aliens have other functions, like not triggering alarms, or the ability to float, jump higher or move faster. Other powers are very appreciated, but not for the right reasons — thanks to shoddy hit detection, there were several instances where we resorted to button mashing with the strongest, tank-like character. There are also instances that require jumping on a timed platform, breaking the barrier and getting to the next surface without falling; for this, the character that floats a bit before falling came in handy. The problem here is that these characters weren't introduced with those obstacles in mind; certain obstacles early on are maddening because you haven't reached the next alien (which are unlocked linearly as the game progresses).
Omniverse 2 should be commended for its light upgrade system. Collecting a certain amount of items in a level or accomplishing a specific task will give Ben better health, a shorter "cool down" period after transforming and more strength. There are also four aliens that are unlocked by the upgrade system, all of which are strong and useful. But while the upgrades are theoretically helpful, the differences feel minimal and, at times, nonexistent; other collectibles unlock character information and item information, most of which is useless.
The visuals leave much to be desired. The levels are zoomed out during large fights, but the 3D sprites are poorly detailed, which is most obvious when Ben (and his alien forms) are alone on-screen. Turning up the stereoscopic 3D also dips the framerate significantly, which is unacceptable given the already poor graphics. There isn't much visual variety in the game, either; most levels are awash in metallic blue and green, with some rusty red thrown in for good measure. The best visuals in the game are end-of-level drawings taken from the show. The music is generic action fare, and after it loops a few times you'll get sick of it; there's also no voice work, aside from a few annoying, repetitive catchphrases.
There are also some glitches, too; there were a few instances where enemies fell off-screen but didn't "die" properly, and the only thing we could do was jump off a platform and start over. There's no penalty for dying, as Ben will simply respawn in the same location.
Ben 10 Omniverse 2 is a disappointing experience that is not worth playing unless you're a hardcore fan of the Cartoon Network franchise. With poor production values and gameplay that gets old fast, this adventure doesn't feel like it was made with care or enthusiasm for the source material. And when there are so many great 3DS action games to play, Ben 10 Omniverse 2 doesn't measure up.