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DESTROY ALL HUMANS! (2020)
From: Black Forest Games
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.
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.