Out-and-out destruction

Destroy All Humans! has players taking the role of clone Cryptosporidium 137. Photo: Supplied
Destroy All Humans! has players taking the role of clone Cryptosporidium 137. Photo: Supplied

DESTROY ALL HUMANS! (2020)

For: PS4
From: Black Forest Games
Rating: (M)

REVIEWED BY BEN ALLAN

Do-overs of classic games have become a bit of a trend lately, and now THQ Nordic have jumped aboard with a new version of Destroy All Humans!, an alien invasion game for PS2 from 2005 that’s now re-arrived in a year in which we seem to be making a reasonable fist of the titular task ourselves. But hey, the video game version’s got jokes!

 

Destroy All Humans! has players taking the role of clone Cryptosporidium 137 (a name that might ring a bell for New Zealanders familiar with the odd bout of waterborne disease) of the Furon Empire. He’s sent to Earth in 1959 by commander Orthopox with the ultimate goal of harvesting humanity’s brainstems. A one-alien army, ‘‘Crypto’’ must collect research subjects, spread propaganda and neutralise opposition to the Furon takeover, be that from police, the army, or the agents of the secret Majestic organisation.

Players take control of Crypto from a-third person perspective as he sneaks or rampages around mini open-world areas. His tasks range from infiltration and sabotage to out-and-out destruction. For the former, he calls upon powers to disguise himself, read minds and command humans, while for the latter an arsenal with options such as an electric zapper and giant ion bombs — and the ability to telekinetically pick people up and throw them at each other, once you get the hang of the somewhat tricky controls for this — make him a match for entire army units.

Players take control of Crypto from a-third person perspective as he sneaks or rampages around...
Players take control of Crypto from a-third person perspective as he sneaks or rampages around mini open-world areas. Photo: Supplied
Stealth games have come a long way since 2005, and the best that can probably be said about the system here is that it is functional enough to achieve mission requirements. The game is much more successful though when Crypto is openly wreaking havoc. The environments are gleefully demolishable, and Crypto’s handy jet pack makes them fun to traverse. It’s simple to creatively atomise a horde of hapless enemies, perhaps by flinging a radioactive cow at them, then zip out of danger. For maximum alien invasion carnage, some levels also allow Crypto to return to his flying saucer and, well, fly it. Naturally, it’s equipped with a death ray, and can pick things up and throw them too — good news for anyone who ever wanted to use a Cadillac to demolish a donut shop. Flee, puny humans! A shame then that some missions force you into defending or escorting things, curtailing opportunities for more expressionist annihilation.

Unsurprisingly, the game opts to take a humourous approach. Orthopox and Crypto are gleefully evil characters, but the humans are probably worse. The game leans into its Cold War setting, taking broad swipes at the era of over-the-top American patriotism and ‘‘Reds under the bed’’. Some satirical hits still land, but times have changed and there are many lines that would have been best left in 2005, a point emphasised by a disclaimer/warning at the start of the game about the remake not changing the original game’s script. As a comedy experience, it’s very hit and miss.

There are some changes though: improved cut scenes, updated character models and a restored mission from the cutting room floor add polish. The campaign comes to a pretty swift conclusion, but levels can be revisited afterwards to tackle various challenges.

Game cover
Game cover
Did we need a remake of Destroy All Humans!? Probably not, but given we got one, it offers a chance to indulge in some casual destruction in the corny spirit of the B-movies that inspired it — even if some aspects of the game have dated badly.

 

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