When you start a game on this new version of Destroy All Humans! you’re met with this message:
“Humans of Planet Earth, be advised: while the experience has been upgraded, the content and historic record of the original invasion of the Furons remains a near-identical clone”.
This remade version of Destroy All Humans! doesn’t feel like a clone of the 2005 original. Despite sticking to the originals roots, structure and vocal performances, this remake completely transforms the game experience. My overriding memories of the PS2 original was that it was a fun game yet also very frustrating at times. Those feelings were reaffirmed when I played the PS4 up-rezed re-release in 2016. Both times, I remember tapping out on the game in Santa Modesta, less than half way through. With this remake, I’ve been hooked from beginning to end. The changes that have been made and the complete visual overhaul give Destroy All Humans! a totally new and approachable feel. Old frustrations have made way for cathartic destruction and savvy stealth sections. This is a very, very good remake.
Buildings have surface detail, not just textures. Grass and foliage look realistic, not just green blades rustling in the wind. The lighting has been totally reworked, giving the game a more impressive and realistic look. The visual effects for special powers look both more impressive and are easier to understand. Character models and vehicles have been completely remade for today’s standard with a new, exaggerated art style that highlights the games absurdity and B-movie inspirations. These models have all new realistic animations. Explosions look impressive and vehicles explode in pieces. The control scheme has been re-jigged so the input doesn’t feel as clunky on the Dualshock 4. The simultaneous use of certain abilities and weapons have been included – yes, you can now use Psychokinesis and shoot a gun at the same time.
Some of the descriptions and map elements have been changed to make them more helpful. Use of every weapon and ability in the game feels more user friendly and fluid. Transmogrification has been included, a power which first appeared in Destroy All Humans! 2. A level that was cut from the original game has been included too. While the original structure, level orientation and vocal tracks remain, everything else has been improved. If you were already a fan of Destroy All Humans! and you’ve come here to see what has been changed, here’s your answer – everything you want to be kept about the original remains here. Everything else is better than you remember. If you’re new to this series, the rest of this review is for you…
It Came From Outer Space…
Destroy All Humans! is a 2005 3D action adventure game. It’s a B-movie inspired, 50-60’s pop culture obsessed, Americana mocking sci-fi anti-hero story that’s weirdly poignant in 2020. This remake doesn’t deviate in any way from the plot of the original. The player character is called Cryptosporidium 137 (or Crypto to his friends), an alien clone warrior from the Furon species. He’s arrived on Earth to investigate the disappearance of his predecessor, Crypto 136, who went radio silent whilst here. Guided by his leader Orthopox (aka Pox), voiced by none of than Richard Steven Horvitz of Invader Zim, Power Rangers and Skylanders fame, Crypto sets out to wage alien war against humanity.
In order to wage this war with an entire civilisation, Crypto is going to need an arsenal of weaponry, which he conveniently has. Introduced slowly to you over the duration of the first 6 or so hours of the game, each gadget and special power is inspired by the sci-fi flicks of the past. One of Crypto’s inbuilt abilities is that of Psychokinesis, mentioned earlier. With a tap of a button the invader can pick up objects, people, grenades, missiles, explosive barrels et all and launch them at intended targets.
The Zap-O-Matic is Crypto’s electricity gun and his first weapon. While its range is short, a hit of the Zap-O-Matic stuns any human it touches, flashing them black and white aside from their skeleton until they fry and drop down dead. The Anal Probe is an ass-seeking missile which works twofold – primarily, it’s hilarious to see your target running away from the projectile as it heads towards their rear. Secondly, once it has found its target, the probe manages to pop the skull of the victim which leaves their juicy brain behind. Then there’s the disintegration ray, a classic from the movies like Mars Attacks, etc. The most devastating straight shooter in the game, this blaster can turn any human into a pile of ash with just a few shots. Lastly, there’s the Ion Detonator, a massive bomb launcher that can turn cars, tanks and mechs into smoking craters. These are all weapons that are truly enjoyable to use and offer something a bit different. Anal probing a cop as he lines up to shoot you never gets old.
When it gets too hot on the ground, Crypto can take the skies in his UFO. From here, he can rain down hot energy upon those below. It’s here, hovering above the ground like a lethal hockey puck, that you discover how destructible the game world is. Using Crypto’s Death Ray and abduction beam, he can turn buildings into rubble and use cars and tanks as play things.
Despite having brilliant weaponry and a lethal UFO for Crypto to use on his quest, Destroy All Humans! isn’t overtly easy. That’s in part because Crypto isn’t completely overpowered and he’s only one
man alien. The human resistance he’ll encounter escalates like it does in Grand Theft Auto and Mafia. Get spotted walking around town without a disguise and the police will be called. Open fire and the police will respond in numbers. Turn Turnip Seed PD into a smoldering ash heap and the army will respond, complete with tanks and troop transports en masse. Keep on that killing spree and you’ll attract the attention of Majestic, the “Men in Black” shadowy government agency which deals with alien menaces and/or communists and main antagonists (or is that protagonists?) in the game. The AI for these forces isn’t the smartest but they don’t need to be – they’ll defeat you with sheer force of numbers if you’re not careful.
On Earth, No One Can See You Scheme
That’s where Crypto’s other strength comes into play – the little grey man has a big brain and a host of psychic abilities making him a master of espionage. Stealth is a big part of Destroy All Humans! and, I’ll be honest, I utterly hated its implementation in the original game. Here, because everything from the visual representation of the powers to the UI has been improved, it’s a joy to partake in. The alien menaces main tool in this instance is the Holobob. This tool can replicate the appearance of a human that has been targeted for a limited time. Once it’s activated, humans wouldn’t know the alien from their milk man.
To keep the Holobob charged, Crypto can scan the thoughts of humans. This is an interesting mechanic because it requires you to stay close to humans so that you can keep the disguise active but that’s where it’s most dangerous, especially around Majestic agents. These shady government folks can decrease the charge of your Holobob quickly and leave you surrounded by hostiles.
Thankfully, Crypto has other tricks up his sleeve in order to throw these Majestic agents off the scent, or at least get them out of your way. With enough time to stay focused on them, he can hypnotise humans to fight for him. If you want to move guards from their posts, you can make other humans do wild and wacky things to become a distraction. When you want to get a little more violent, you can extract their brain with your mind. Focus on them and POP, their head explodes leaving their brain and DNA behind. This DNA collected from these brains, together with what is awarded for completing missions and optional objectives, can be used to upgrade every weapon and ability.
Night of the Forced, Insta-Fail Creeps
While stealth is often an optional approach that balances the chaos you can cause with the weaponry, there are moments in Destroy All Humans! that stray into a particular bugbear of mine – instant fail stealth sections. There are a handful of these in the game, where you’ll have to start at the last checkpoint if you’re spotted without a disguise. It’s annoying, as this is one of the few things that games have almost entirely phased out in the past few years.
There’s a few moments in Destroy All Humans! that betray the age of its design. None do this more so than an escort mission that has you protect a truck carrying a fragile item that’s under attack and being driven by someone who’s basically suicidal. It’s unforgiving, unnecessary and makes way for those old frustrations to return. While much of Destroy All Humans! feels like a brand new game, there’s a few sections like this that are rigid and old hat compared to modern peers.
This doesn’t ruin Destroy All Humans!. Instead, it gives it a charm and old school feel that’s actually quite endearing. Games like Destroy All Humans! – AA games with cathartic carnage at its core – just don’t get made anymore. The structure, spread out across 6 separate, reasonably sized open maps, each of one has missions to complete, new activities to do and a free roaming mode to go and explore with, is so typical of the early 00’s that it’s almost refreshing today. Those moments of rigid structure can be forgiven because the eventual payoff of throwing a tank into a building to watch the place crumble is worth it.
The same can be said about the plot. Viewed through a 2020 lens, the irreverent take on America and the government, the cheeky take on scientists, the contrived ignorance of humanity and the pure thrill of tearing around a B-movie version of locations inspired by UFO-logy and the mythology around aliens (Area 42 being my personal favourite) is really stimulating. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t Shakespeare, but it’s not trying to be. The intended schlocky dialogue and pop culture reflecting narrative lands like a boop on the nose.
Destroy All Humans!…Again
This remake of Destroy All Humans! is really quite incredible and the developers at Black Forest Games should be applauded for what they’ve achieved. The original has been torn apart and rebuilt with the benefit of modern day visuals and game play design while retaining the game’s original character. There are still moments that betray the source material’s age but these do little to sour an otherwise fun and cathartic jaunt across a 50’s B-Movie framed America. Even as someone who wasn’t enamoured by Crypto’s initial outing back in 2005, I’m glad to see his return in a package that shows him in his best light. Long live our new alien overlord.
The Destroy All Humans Remake is launching on the PS4 (Reviewed on base PS4), Xbox One, PC and Stadia on July 28th, 2020.
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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