Destroy All Humans is a remake of the 2005 PS2 classic, with updated controls, graphics, and gameplay elements, while keeping the story of the original. The game follows angry alien Crypto 137 as he lands on Earth in the 1950s, searching for his clone and predecessor, Crypto 136. While Crypto is searching Earth, his presence is noticed by the shady Majestic Agency and Crypto must outsmart them as well as the rest of the humans he encounters to rescue his friend.
Destroy All Humans has a variety of missions and objectives to complete but the gameplay is always one of 3 styles; Stealth, shooting, or controlling Crypto’s spaceship. Each of the styles has different skills and weapons that Crypto can use to dupe the unsuspecting masses.
Most missions start with a stealth section in which Crypto must observe the humans to further his plans, with the occasional abduction of course! When using stealth, Crypto can use ‘Holobob’ to scan a human and imitate their appearance using a hologram. The catch with Holobob is that the hologram only lasts a short amount of time and in order to continue the facade, Crypto must read the minds of humans he meets (by scanning them) to ‘top-up’ the hologram. This sounds simple enough, and it is at first, but as the game progresses, Majestic agents are armed with EMP’s as well as EMP mines littering the map, which causes Crypto’s disguise to rapidly decrease. Should Crypto be revealed or should a civilian see Crypto impersonate a human, a wanted bar increases which if left unchecked, can cause all hell to break loose! When the game begins, the stealth sections are both fun and amusing as each scan of a human reveals their thoughts and some of the things going through their heads are very funny. However, apart from the introduction of the EMP mechanic, the stealth sections never really go anywhere and became a little tedious as the game progressed. This is mainly because the combat is so much fun that the stealth section almost feels like a chore that needs completing to get to the good stuff…..which is destroying everything in sight!
Speaking of all hell breaking loose, the next gameplay element is gunfighting. Often after spying on the humans, Crypto is tasked with killing everyone in sight on his way back to his spaceship with a variety of alien technology. Crypto has four main weapons in which to destroy humanity as well as having the power of psychokinesis, allowing him to move (and throw) both humans and objects with his mind. The first weapon at Crypto’s disposal is the Zap-O-Matic which is basically a lightning gun, allowing Crypto to electrocute his enemies with a stream of electricity. Next up is the classic weapon of most alien species, the Anal Probe which enters through…..well you know…..and literally pops humans’ brains out of their heads. Next up is the Disintegrator Ray which does just that, leaving a pile of charred bones and ashes behind and finally the Ion Detonator which is a remote-controlled grenade launcher. As well as these devastating weapons, Crypto can use his psychokinetic skills to explode the heads of humans leaving their brains in little piles on the ground. Why do you ask? Well because the currency of Destroy All Humans is DNA and where better to harvest DNA than the brains of the human race! The combat is great fun from beginning to end, especially as you can combine the weapons and powers that Crypto has at his disposal. There’s nothing quite like disintegrating a group of enemies before fluidly switching to the Zap-O-Matic to fry another before launching them into oblivion. The combat gets fairly challenging throughout the game with the introduction of grenadier soldiers and giant robots which is welcome, although the difficulty flies off the charts with some of the bosses, especially the final few encounters.
The third an arguable most fun gameplay element of Destroy All Humans is controlling Crypto’s ship. Many of Crypto’s missions finish with the instruction to level the entire area in which the previous mission took place. Crypto’s ship is armed with a death ray which is a beam of light that will destroy anything in its path as well as leaving the ground burning afterward, causing lasting damage. The next weapon of destruction is the Abducto-Beam, because what good is an alien flying saucer if it can’t abduct people? The Abducto-Beam is used in a similar way to Crypto’s psychokinesis powers and can fling anything it can pick up across the map. As the game progresses, the ship is armed with 2 more weapons, the Sonic Boom, which causes a tremor-like blast and the Quantum Deconstructor, which is a small nuke! Flying the spaceship is the most fun in my opinion as the combat is just a slick and varied as the foot combat but has the added element of massive independence-day style explosions. Where the game shines is the transition from walking around the map completing missions before jumping into the spaceship, taking off, and completely obliterating the map which you have just been traversing. To keep the combat varied, the health system is slightly different when on foot and on the ship. While on foot, Crypto can take damage and then hide to regenerate his shields but the spaceship’s shields do not regenerate and the only way to replenish them is to syphon energy from vehicles or humans. This makes the 2 different gameplay styles feel different and involves a different strategy n the player’s part which helps to make each feel different from one another.
When looking at the graphics of Destroy All Humans, I found myself polarized in my opinion. When the game opened and I landed on the farm in the first level, I was impressed. The landscape was lush and green with grass swaying in the wind. The characters I first met, both human and cow, had a quirky cartoony style that worked well, and the lighting both from the spaceship and the flames of the landscape I was destroying looked pretty. However, as the game progressed and I visited other levels, none felt as good to look at as that first farm. The beach level was bland and uninteresting, as was the desert-based army base and the built-up cities. However, compared to the original, the graphics are gorgeous, and every element has been improved in some way. The problem is, with the recent slew of remakes such as FF7 and Resident Evil raising the bar, I just didn’t feel DESTROY ALL HUMANS did enough to stand out, which is a shame as the opening level is beautiful. As for sound, everything works well, the weapons and ships have some great sound-effects and explosions have impact. The voice acting is cheesy but not in a bad way, Crypto is as angry as ever and each NPC you read the mind of rattles off their lines with personality.
Although Destroy All Humans is great fun to play, it does have some flaws which need addressing. Having never played a Destroy All Humans game before, but being aware of them, I was excited as the gameplay I had seen led me to believe I would step into a sandbox-style open world in which I could take on missions or destroy the planet as I saw fit. This however is not the case. Each mission is rigidly structured allowing little freedom to deviate from the path. Between each mission, you are aboard the mothership and after choosing a mission you land on the plant and have to play said mission from start to finish. You can revisit the 6 areas in which the missions take place to free play them or complete challenges, but each is rather small, and the areas do not connect. This may be less of an issue for those of you that played the original or was aware of the structure beforehand, but I felt slightly cheated by how small and rigid the world was. Destroy All Humans also suffers as most of the missions follow a standard structure which can feel a little repetitive. Most missions start with either stealth or combat and end by destroying the map with your ship, other than that there is very little variation in the objectives or goals. Part of this is that the game is true to its source, which in the days of PS2 was justified, but games have evolved in the last 15 years and tend to favour variety, which Destroy All Humans is severely lacking.
Overall, Destroy All Humans is a blast from the past with fun gameplay and some genuinely funny moments, although does suffer from a sharp difficulty curve and repetitive gameplay. Destroy All Humans is worth a look if you’re a fan of nostalgia and feel like a retro kick, but don’t expect the same level of remake as some other recent titles.