With all the awesome gaming franchises languishing in limbo, I’d never have guessed that somebody out there would bring back Destroy All Humans! If anybody asked me, I’d have pegged Dead Space having a bigger chance of a comeback.
Nevertheless, here we are. In a word where we still don’t know what happened to the Necromorphs on Earth but instead get a remake of a decent PS2/Xbox game.
So…the question is, is Destroy All Humans! worth the money?
I’ve finished the game and have the answer!
Read on to find out what it is.
What is Destroy All Humans!?
Destroy All Humans! is a single player action game set in a fictional 1950s America where the fear of Communism is at an all time high. Black Forest Games handled the remake while THQ Nordic publishes the game for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
In Destroy All Humans!, you’re Crypto-137, the latest in a line of clones from an alien race called the Furons. Tasked by your overseer Pox, you’re sent to investigate Earth, where Cryto-136 has gone missing. You’re also made to harvest human brain stems, as they contain dormant Furon DNA that can help revitalize the declining race.
The plot’s pretty basic but the chemistry between Crypto and Pox makes it work. It certainly helps that Crypto and Pox are much more likable than the humans they’re fighting.
The B-movie influence in Destroy All Humans! is pretty evident right off the bat. Characters are stereotypes (the Man in Black, the busty bimbos, bucktoothed hicks) and everything is awash with jingoism against Communists and the big Red threat.
Crypto’s your stereotypical alien from the old school line of thought. Gray, with big eyes and come to probe your asses. He’s also packing some wicked weaponry, the ability to levitate objects and read your mind and a holographic disguise. Oh yeah…he also has a weaponized UFO.
The remake has a host of different skins for Crypto but most of them are pretty tame and/or lame. A few are notable (including the old Crypto skin) but I wish there were a few more unlockable as rewards. Perhaps one that pays homage to Klaatu? Or E.T.? Or even a Xenomorph?
Since the game’s cutscenes are in realtime, the skin you choose reflects in them which is always a plus in my book.
As a remake, Destroy All Humans! doesn’t deviate too much from the original’s formula. Unlike the open ended nature of some of the later sequels, the original broke up its areas into separate, semi-open areas.
That’s also the case here, with Cryto progressively unlocking more areas as you complete missions. Progression also unlocks optional events in those stages (Race, Armageddon, Rampage and Abduction) which gives you more to do and a way to get more DNA to unlock upgrades.
Unfortunately, missions in the game are way too short, like those meant for a portable device. Each can be finished in about 10 minutes (unless you’re in boss fight) and doesn’t take much skill. Even secondary objectives don’t require much effort to achieve, which means your first play at a mission will probably be the only one.
I had no trouble with 90% of them (I finished the game with only 3 optional objectives incomplete…see above) and I don’t see anybody having issues too. I’d hoped they’d get harder as you progress but apart from a handful, they’re pretty easy to achieve.
Due to the bite-sized nature of the missions, you don’t really get to enjoy them as they’re over before you know it. I pretty much ignored most of Cryto’s guns (other than the lightning one) because the missions don’t really need them.
Crypto has all sorts of cool abilities but they’re rarely integrated into the missions in interesting or innovative ways. Most of the time, you just sneak around using Crypto’s hologram disguise (when you need to be stealthy) or go all out, with raygun blazing killing everything in sight.
The UFO’s also barely used in missions, rendering it a pretty useless vehicle. Its destructive potential is only unleashed in some stages and I really wished that it got more playtime in missions.
Luckily, the Armageddon mini-game in the stages use the UFO to good effect. In this mode, you’re given free reign to destroy everything with the UFO, which truly shows off the carnage it can do.
The mindless violence is fun (there are some neat visual effects) but the shallow nature starts to sink in after awhile. Other than upgrading your weapons and UFO with DNA, there’s not much incentive to keep you going.
Even the boss fights are a matter of endurance rather than skill. You just dodge the boss’s attacks with your jetpack, while blasting it in return with your weapons. If your shields get too low, you hide around and wait for it to regenerate before resuming the fight.
Fights (and normal gameplay) all flow seamlessly at 60FPS on the Xbox One X. I didn’t notice any slowdown at all, even when the game chucks everything it has at its disposal at Crypto.
Dodging, jumping, flying around with the jetpack’s all silky smooth, with no stuttering or hitching, even when the crap hits the fan.
Weirdly, the real-time cutscenes aren’t the same. They hitch and stutter sometimes. I figure that’s due to data being loaded in the background but it’s still an issue for some cutscenes that I hope will be patched out.
My memory of playing the original’s pretty fuzzy but I still remember the best parts about the game being the voices done by Richard Horvitz of Invader Zim fame.
The remake uses archival audio from the past games (so there’s no new voice content) but it also means Horvitz is in top form. Pox (Horvitz’s character) is basically Zim in all but name, insane homicidal tendencies and all.
Crypto’s voice is awesome too, reminding me of Jack Nicholson on a bad, bad day. One weird thing is the humor seems to be lesser in the remake…which is weird considering they reused the old audio (though enhanced) for the remake. Perhaps my sense of humor’s changed…
The Bottom Line.
Destroy All Humans! isn’t a bad game at all…but neither is it a great game. The original was a middling experience and the remake doesn’t do much to elevate itself from that niche.
In fact, other than the upgrade in visuals, the remake is pretty similar to the original in nearly all aspects. That’s great for those who don’t want anything from the original changed but games have moved on since its original release.
What we get then is something that feels like it’s stuck in the past, with shallow gameplay that’s reminiscent of games from the 2000s. It’s fun in short bursts (perhaps that’s why the missions are so short) but there’s not much to get into once you get past the flashy new visuals.
In a sense, it’s a bit disappointing, especially when you look at how Capcom remade Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Nemesis.
Shallow game that’s fun in small bursts. Wait for a sale.
- Great voice acting by the principals (Crypto and Pox).
- Consistent 60FPS.
- Cool weapon visual effects.
- Shallow, repetitive gameplay.
- UFO largely unused.