Ben 10 is a cartoon broadcast on Cartoon Network, consisting of ten year old Ben Tennyson who has a watch-like device (known as the Omnitrix) which allows him to transform into a range of alien life-forms – each with its own unique powers. Though with great power comes great responsibility and using the Omnitrix, it’s up to our hero to fight evil, along with his companions. After a retail release that failed to impress, developer Black Lantern Studios with the help of Konami have brought Ben 10, along with his alien friends, to the Xbox Live Arcade in Ben 10 Alien Force: The Rise of Hex – a 2D-styled platformer with 3D character models.
In The Rise of the Hex, Ben finds himself going up against his archenemy, Hex, who has villainous plans to control the Earth, and Ben must prevent from happening. Without any background knowledge of the television programme, the story mode in The Rise of Hex makes very little sense. Told through a series of stills, the cutscenes prior to each stage require a small amount of reading that simply explains what has been mentioned above and, to make matters worse, Ben is joined by some of his sidekicks from the television series at seemingly random points throughout the game, with no explanation as to who they are being offered.
Each of the fifteen levels throughout the story mode consists of a number of puzzles. Whilst this isn’t initially a weak point to the game, the majority of the puzzles involves switches – which require players to activate them in the right order so that platforms move and barriers open in sequence for progression to be made. Whereas the first few switch puzzles provide a sufficient challenge, they soon become quite monotonous. Considering the title is predominantly based on a target audience of children, the difficulty of the puzzles the game contains could provide a few problems – even for the older gamer.
At times, players will find themselves looking around aimlessly hoping to work out how to progress, with the result often entailing the use of an element of the game they have yet to be introduced to. Other hindrances throughout the story mode require the use of the monsters, activated from the Omnitrix using the right trigger. A new monster is unlocked at the start of each level with that level’s obstacles requiring heavy use of the newly obtained monster. For example; to get across wide gaps, players must use Jetray’s gliding power.
For the benefit of fans of the series, the monsters available to choose from are: Swampfire, Brainstorm, Big Chill, Humungousaur, Echo Echo, Chromastone, Jetray, Spider Monkey, Goop, and Lodestar. The implementation of this feature has been done well as with players having to change between the monsters frequently, it can also be done quickly.
The story mode will take players approximately three hours to complete – which isn’t particularly lengthy in comparison to some of the other games on the market. Nevertheless, there are two other game modes on offer. The first of which is Survival, doing exactly what it says on the tin, requiring players to survive for as long as possible whilst onslaughts of enemies try to defeat them. Regrettably, the mode doesn’t provide much of a challenge as (with the right tactics) players will easily be able to victor over their rivals and last a long.
The final game mode is Time Attack which allows players to record a top time on each of the game’s levels and post them to the Xbox Live leaderboards. Nevertheless, the extra play through seems almost pointless when the feature could easily have been incorporated into the story mode.
Graphically, The Rise of Hex isn’t particularly incredible, though what is evident is sufficient enough for an Xbox Live Arcade title; likewise, the audio is also quite average. Whereas the soundtrack and sound effects are to a good standard, they aren’t as ground-breaking as we’ve previously witnessed in similar titles.
On the whole, Ben 10 Alien Force: The Rise of Hex is a poorly developed Xbox Live Arcade title. The repetitive puzzles, the short story mode and the lack of decent game modes doesn’t deem the game a worthy purchase – especially at the 800 Microsoft Points price tag.