Destroy All Humans! was originally released on PlayStation 2 and Xbox fifteen years ago back in 2005. I remember picking up the game when it first came out as it sounded like a cool idea. Who wouldn’t want to play a game where you got to play as aliens trying to take over the Earth. I am not sure if I ever finished the game, but I can remember enjoying the game as it was fun creating so much destruction. The game was released in an era when open world games were starting to grow in popularity as GTA: San Andreas was released the previous year. While the original game may have not been the most popular game from that era it developed a pretty good cult following which has lead to THQ Nordic remastering the game and releasing it for modern consoles (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) tomorrow. As I enjoyed the original game I was excited to see what the remaster had to offer. Destroy All Humans! is a faithful adaptation of the original game, which is both a positive and a negative, leading to a fun game that fans of destruction and chaos should get quite a bit of enjoyment out of.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Black Forest Games, Pandemic Studios, and THQ Nordic for the review copy of Destroy All Humans! used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Destroy All Humans! you play as Crypto-137 a member of the Furons. The Furons have long used cloning to expand their ranks, but due to the longtime use of the process the DNA of their race is starting to degrade quickly. In the distant past the Furons visited Earth and implanted some of their DNA into the human species that has been left untouched ever since. As this is the key to restoring the Furons Crypto-136 is sent to Earth (1950s era) to harvest DNA from human brain stems. The UFO is shot down though and Crypto-136 is gravely injured. Crypto-137 is sent to Earth to try and rescue Crypto-136 as well as continue the harvesting mission. Crypto is quickly discovered though alerting the military and other forces in the government that are hellbent on destroying him. Can Crypto-136 complete his mission and destroy all of the humans in the process?
If I were to describe Destroy All Humans!’s gameplay I would say that it mostly breaks down into two main types of gameplay: destruction and stealth. As most people are probably more interested in the destruction lets begin there. Simply put the Furons are not a peaceful alien race. Therefore much of the game involves killing humans and destroying everything that stands in your way. As this is a key component of the game Destroy All Humans! gives you quite a few different tools to achieve this task. On foot you are given a powerful gun that has several different types of weapons attached to it. You begin with a gun that electrocutes, but soon unlock other guns like a more traditional blaster rifle, a probe gun, and a gun that shoots out grenade-like explosives that destroy everything in the area. Crypto also has the ability to pick up and throw objects with his mind. As for health you have a shield that protects you from a decent amount of damage, but you are vulnerable once it is depleted. To restore your shield you either need to wait for it to recharge without taking damage or you need to collect human brains.
In addition to attacking on the ground you will also occasionally be able to use your UFO in order to cause even more destruction. Your UFO is equipped with various weapons which you unlock as you progress in the game. You begin with a basic laser beam, but unlock additional weapons that deal even more damage. Your UFO also has a tractor beam which you can use to pick up enemies or vehicles and fling them to deal damage. As you complete missions you can use the DNA you collect to upgrade your UFO or your on foot abilities.
While violence is usually a valid option, sometimes a more nuanced approach is needed. This is where the game’s stealth mechanic comes into play. In addition to all of his weapons Crypto also has a few abilities that can help keep his presence secret from humans. Crypto has psychic abilities to make humans forget that they saw him, brainwash them to help him, or even cause them to create a distraction to keep other nearby humans occupied. The most powerful though is the ability to use a holographic image of a human to disguise your true form. To do this you just have to scan another human with your mind and after a short period of time you will be disguised as the human you scanned. To keep up the disguise you have to scan human minds. You need to be careful where you go though as there will be enemies and other objects that will break your disguise if you move too close to them. There are also certain areas of the map that are restricted so you need to scan a person with the proper clearance to visit those locations without setting off an alarm.
In a lot of ways I would say that Destroy All Humans! is pretty typical of the era that it was released in. The game was released in 2005 which was shortly after the release of GTA: San Andreas. In many ways you can see the impact that games like the GTA series had on Destroy All Humans!. The game is a third person action game that has open world elements. Instead of having one large world to play with, Destroy All Humans! is broken up into different sections spanning different locations from 1950s America. While the game has quite a few missions the game also allows you to explore the locations destroying things and completing other side quests/activities in order to gain additional DNA to upgrade your character. Anyone familiar with the GTA series or other similar franchises will already have a good idea of what to expect from Destroy All Humans!.
Of the two gameplay mechanics I am going to start with the stealth mechanics as they play a much smaller role in the game. In a lot of missions you can utilize the stealth mechanics to reduce the attention you get from humans before you start destroying things. There are some missions where you have to use the stealth mechanics though since if you are detected you will automatically have to restart the mission. The stealth mechanics are a little different than you would typically expect as you can blend into a crowd as long as you keep scanning human minds and avoid areas that destroy your disguise. I would say that these mechanics can be fun as it is satisfying being able to sneak past the authorities without them noticing.
Destroy All Humans! is ultimately a game of destruction though. That is a good thing as this is the area that the game really excels in. I wouldn’t say that this element of the game is particularly deep, but it can be quite satisfying. In the game you have access to a bunch of weapons that can easily deal with any enemies that get in your way. This is a good thing as you are vastly outnumbered much of the time. While you can manually aim your weapons the game also gives you a targeting system that locks you onto nearby enemies and objects that you can interact with. This makes combat a breeze as you can mow down enemies. The game does a really good job at making you feel powerful. You can destroy any enemy within a couple of shots as well as destroy vehicles and buildings. The whole environment is pretty destructible as you can destroy almost everything that you can see. In addition to the powerful weapons it is so satisfying being able to fling enemies and other objects through the air with your mind. Anyone who likes to just destroy things in video games will likely have a blast with these elements of the game.
The ease of destruction does create a couple issues for the game though. The first is that the game is not particularly difficult in my opinion. I attribute a lot of this to your overpowered weapons and the fact that you can auto target any enemies in the nearby area. This makes the combat quite easy as you don’t even need to target enemies. You only have to occasionally manually target enemies when the auto target gets a little wonky (not very often). Instead of targeting you can just switch between the auto targeted enemies and shoot at them until they are dead. Then you just move onto the next enemy. Arguably the hardest part of the combat is avoiding the enemies shots as you mostly just have to stay alive until your shields recharge. This leads to the game being quite easy. I was able to breeze through most of the levels with little to no troubles. The later levels get a little more difficult, but most of them are not even that difficult. The thing that adds the most challenge to the game is trying to complete the additional objectives for each mission which mostly involve killing enemies in specific ways which adds to the difficulty. I would say that most of my deaths/failures came from trying to complete the additional objectives than actually beating the normal objectives.
The other issue that crops up is the fact that the gameplay never drastically changes throughout the game. You will acquire new guns and abilities which kind of keep the game fresh. Once you get all of these guns and abilities though the gameplay never drastically changes. Most of the gameplay boils down to either reaching a certain location, killing a certain number of enemies or a specific target, collecting objects, or a few other pretty typical objectives. These basically all boil down to either destroying everything that gets in your way or sneaking your way to a location undetected. These are still fun, but after a while all of the missions start to feel the same. I enjoyed the game, but Destroy All Humans! is more the type of game that is better in shorter doses as it can feel a little “samey” after a while.
So how does the remaster differ from the original game? For the most part it stays pretty loyal to the original game. The locations, missions, and mechanics seem to be basically the same as the original game. The only real addition is a level for the Area 42 location that was cut from the original game and was added back in for the remaster. The main difference between the two versions are in the atmosphere department. The graphics have been overhauled. They don’t compare to current gen AAA games, but I think the developers deserve credit for doing a good job updating the graphics from a 15 year old game to be comparable to modern day games. The character models look quite a bit better and the destruction effects in particular look a lot better. I think the game does a pretty good job recreating a stereotypical version of the 1950s. The game’s humor is a little hit or miss as it can sometimes be pretty funny, but there are quite a few jokes that fall flat. Fans of the original game should enjoy game’s overall atmosphere. The audio is solid, but not spectacular. The voice acting is pretty good and the various explosions and other destruction noises keep you immersed. The game suffers from the characters repeating the same little phrases over and over again though which becomes kind of annoying after a while.
As for the length I would say that it is going to depend on a couple factors. The game has twenty some main story missions. I would say that most of the missions can be completed in around 15-20 minutes with some being a little shorter or longer. Depending on how well you do in the missions I would guess you can finish most of the missions within 8-10 hours. In addition to the main missions there are various side missions/activities that will add in some time. Finding all of the collectibles or fully upgrading your character should add even more time. You could also just waste time destroying everything in sight. I would guess completionists could get 15-20 hours out of the game. As Destroy All Humans! is a remaster its retail price is $30 which seems fair as you will likely get your moneys worth if you just want to cause some destruction.
In a lot of ways Destroy All Humans! is basically what you would expect out of a remaster of a 2005 open world third person action game. The gameplay mostly boils down to two main mechanics. The most obvious is the destruction/combat mechanics where you try to destroy everything in sight with your various weapons. This is quite satisfying as the game does a good job making you feel really powerful. The destruction is occasionally broken up by the stealth mechanics where you use your holographic disguise to sneak past enemies without being detected. This element can also be fun at times. The game is pretty fun and fans of open world games where you can cause a lot of destruction should enjoy the game. The game is kind of easy though as most of the challenge comes from completing the optional objectives. The gameplay also becomes kind of repetitive after a while as it never drastically changes meaning that it is better in shorter doses.
My recommendation for Destroy All Humans! comes down to your opinion of third person open world games where you can cause a lot of destruction along with the alien theme. If you don’t really care for either Destroy All Humans! probably won’t be for you. People who really enjoyed the original game or think the premise sounds fun should enjoy Destroy All Humans! and should consider picking it up.
Buy Destroy All Humans! online: Amazon – PC (Standard Edition, DNA Collector’s Edition,Crypto-137 Edition), PlayStation 4 (Standard Edition, DNA Collector’s Edition, Crypto-137 Edition), Xbox One (Standard Edition, DNA Collector’s Edition, Standard Edition)