With a plucky, wise-cracking kid hero, a host of supporting characters with funny and unique personalities and abilities, a surprisingly deep mythos and aliens to beat up, the Ben 10 franchise is rife with potential for great video games. Unfortunately, D3Publisher and developer High Voltage Software completely miss the mark with Ben 10 Omniverse 2, which feels like nothing more than a clumsy cash-in. With unpolished presentation, gameplay that grows old after five minutes and a story that is completely incomprehensible to anyone who's not a devoted fan of the television series, Ben 10 Omniverse 2 — like its 3DS counterpart — is a big disappointment.
Players take on the role of Ben Tennyson, a short, witty, Peter Parker-esque teen superhero who has the ability to transform into various aliens with all sorts of different powers. Ben, equipped with several alien transformations, is on a mission to save Earth from the evil Incurseans, who have enslaved the planet for one reason or another (the game expects the player to know this information from the start). The story appears to use the authentic voices from the television series, which should delight younger players, but it's so nonsensical and the phrases the characters say throughout the campaign grow repetitive quickly.
Each level consists of automatic running sequences and 3D brawling segments. The running element tasks players with making sure Ben has transformed into the right class of alien to overcome specific obstacles. There are heavy, medium and light alien forms to choose from; heavy aliens can break through barriers, medium aliens can shoot at enemies and flimsy obstacles and light aliens can run fast and leap over certain platforms. Players control which track to run on, while the aliens use their abilities automatically. There are some instances that require Ben to take down an enemy while running, which can be fun, but these encounters are few and far between. There is typically one correct path to take, signified by a green arrow, which will either set Ben on another running course or lead to a fight sequence. Here, Ben must eliminate all enemies using his transformations.
While there is the potential for some strategy in the combat sequences — the medium class can use projectiles, while the heavy class can take out stronger enemies with ease — these sections are infuriatingly unintuitive. The hit detection is so poor that it's hard to tell if you're actually hitting an enemy or not, and there are no sound effects when Ben or an enemy is hit, leading to unexpected and frustrating deaths. The camera is nearly broken, as well, with much of the already-small arena obscured depending on where the player is standing. We tried playing the game on multiple difficulties, but the challenge remained the same and we died just as many times, mostly due to the clunky camera and confusing combat. Dying will take players back to the beginning of the level, and while players won't have to repeat fighting sequences, they do have to go through the running sections again. Thankfully, there are occasionally shortcuts that open up that make it easier to get back to the current fight (signified by a pink arrow).
About halfway through the short campaign, we were surprised to find that some of our aliens levelled up after running through a secret path or completing a specific goal. While levelling up aliens should add some variety to the experience, it was irritating to discover these opportunities so late in the game. While there's little need for a full-blown tutorial mode, some explanation of the game's systems and menus would have been nice. The awkward presentation is evident throughout, meanwhile, with a "computer green" colour scheme on the menus. The Wii U GamePad serves as a menu and little else, and the music is of the generic action game variety. In addition to the campaign, there is an offline two-player Arena Mode where players fight wave after wave of enemies; there is not much to say about this, other than the combat remains as dull and frustrating as in the main campaign.
Ben 10's latest gaming adventure is a missed opportunity to turn this compelling television series into a decent game franchise. This title is definitely not recommended for older gamers, and is hard to recommend to younger fans of the series, as well. A stale, shameless cash-in with no variety and frustrating gameplay throughout, hardcore fans of Ben 10 may find a slightly better experience on the 3DS version. All others, though, are advised to stay away from Ben 10 Omniverse 2.