The original Ben 10: Omniverse, released last year, was a misshapen attempt to bring the many transformations of young Ben Tennyson to life in a lukewarm scrolling beat-‘em-up videogame. For all it’s worth as a Ben 10 product designed for fans it was never going to break new ground, far from the likes of the LEGO videogames or a new Mario branded outing. A year later we are met with Ben 10: Omniverse 2, a renovation of the formula that doesn’t surprise but is arguably less comfortable within itself.
The first experience Ben 10: Omniverse 2 offers is a step aside from the beat-‘em-up action. Players are faced with a three lane running track and must change between forms to make their way through the obstacles lining the course: bug guy to bash blocks, average guy to shoot flying enemies, fast guy to sprint. It’s a simple addition to the formula that is used well as the videogame progress, breaking up the action with a change of pace that still demands skill to play, however it can get challenging pretty quickly, so younger players could be caught off-guard.
The process of Ben 10: Omniverse 2 builds from the inclusion of this new gameplay component but also removes much of the freedom and exploration that was in the original Ben 10: Omniverse videogame. Instead of presenting bouts of combat between light platform and puzzle solving sections, Ben 10: Omniverse 2 is simply a continuum of running these tracks then entering combat arenas, defeating all of the enemies and hitting the running track again. It’s such a systematic approach to design that it removes any real sense of progress, with levels seemingly lasting far longer than they should as the player sits in an almost indefinite loop.
The combat is stale and uninteresting, and that’s being kind. The original Ben 10: Omniverse was rather dull in its action sequences but did provide a small amount of variety in its combo attacks. Not so in Ben 10: Omniverse 2: this is a videogame where the endless repetition is weighted by the fact that the same animation sequences play a dozen times a minute. The only variation comes from switching alien forms, and even then the structure of the combat is determined by the weight of the form chosen resulting in a smaller alien simply needing to land more hits. It’s such a rudimentary formula that you have to wonder exactly how much thought was put into its delivery.
In addition to the single-player campaign Ben 10: Omniverse 2 includes a two-player Arena Mode component. A strictly offline affair, the Arena Mode allows you to select your available transformations before beginning to work through a series of increasingly difficult waves of enemies. We say ‘work’ as that’s exactly what it is: Ben 10: Omniverse 2 makes as little effort to make its gameplay enjoyable as possible, whether it be playing alone or with a friend.
Clearly based on the same foundations established for Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben 10: Omniverse 2’s new addition simply isn’t enough to warrant a second outing. In fact, many will suggest that it detracts from the appeal of the original title, and given that the combat has become stagnant and the co-operative gameplay even more limited, there’s very little reason to recommend anyone purchase Ben 10: Omniverse 2, whether or not they may be fans of the Ben 10 franchise.