Destroy All Humans revels in its 1950s cheesy sci-fi film atmosphere, and you can't help but be sucked into its warped sense of reality. Any game which has exploding anal probes as a weapon is worth a spin in my book, even if the actual gameplay doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights as its humour.
Destroy All Humans' black humour permeates the game at every level -- in fact, it's probably one of the most genuinely funny games to come out for a long while. As it name suggests, this game isn't about repelling an alien invasion -- it's about making sure it succeeds, with as many pesky humans killed off as possible.
Set in 1950s America, the game follows the adventures of gung ho alien Crypto 137, who's trying to save his clone, Crypto 136, after he crashes his ship and is taken captive by the US military. Crypto 137 is also tasked with harvesting as many human brains as possible. His race, the Furons, have lost the ability to procreate (no genitalia, apparently), and therefore rely on cloning to expand their population. For some convoluted reason, some early Furons mated with ancient humans, resulting in small strands of DNA still being present in modern human's brain stems -- hence the need for violent skull exploding action throughout Destroy All Humans.
Gameplay in Destroy All Humans is broken up into two sections -- on foot or flying in Crypto's ship -- both of which give players plenty of scope to wreak havoc. On foot, Crypto controls much like a typical third person action game -- left joystick is for movement while right joystick is to change your view.
On the ground, Crypto is more than a match for the best America has to offer, thanks to a small but powerful arsenal and some impressive psychic abilities. When it comes to weapons, Crypto is armed with a basic ray gun at first, but eventually has access to vaporizers, grenade launchers, the aforementioned exploding anal probe, and more. His psychic powers, which can be accessed by holding down the L1 button and selecting a power mapped onto the four controller buttons, range from reading minds, picking up and throwing objects, controlling the actions of weak-willed humans, and exploding heads in order to collect the brain-goodness inside. Crypto controls fairly smoothly, although aiming can be problematic at times -- you may want to psychically throw a Majestic agent in front of you, for example, but your auto aim for some strange reason is fixed on a civilian standing to your side.
In the air, you have control of Crypto's ship, which looks like a typical flying saucer as imagined by '50s sci-fi movies. The ship has a powerful ray beam (which can be upgraded later in the game) that can be used to destroy buildings, vehicles and people, although the controls are rather simplistic. You can only fire on one specific point on the ground, and you're locked at one set height. Despite the simplicity, it's undeniably cool to take to the air and watch as the puny humans flee as you destroy everything in sight.
Most missions take place in large, open environments, with your objectives ranging from finding specific people and 'harvesting' them, infiltrating human gatherings, killing everything in sight, and more. Each level also has several mini games, which net you hundreds of DNA if completed. These mini-games aren't too innovative, and include simple point to point timed races, kill a certain number of creatures within a time limit, destroy a set amount of buildings, or different combinations of the three. These mini games actually greatly reduce the need for Crypto to individually harvest brains (and therefore DNA) from humans. Harvesting a human might net you 10 DNA points, while completing a mini-game can net you hundreds.
The action in Destroy All Humans, while easy to get into, can be too repetitive at times, as well as not posing a real challenge until quite late in the game. Crypto can easily take care of himself regardless of what's thrown at him -- if he ever gets in too much trouble, all a player needs to do is find a quiet spot and wait for his shields to rebuild (which happens quite quickly). It's also quite short -- experienced gamers should have no problem clocking this game in under 10 hours.
But it's Destroy All Human's rock solid focus on laughs that will carry you through this game, despite the shortcomings in gameplay. Crypto and his boss Pox's conversations about humans provide plenty of laugh out loud moments, as will some of the mission objectives themselves (like having to explode radioactive cows in one level). Another highlight is Crypto's mindreading abilities, which allow him to hear what the citizens of 1950s America are thinking. Everything about repressed 1950s society is poked fun at, from the fear of communism and rock music to jabs at celebrities and more. By the end of the game you'll hear a lot of the same phrases, but there's surprisingly plenty of variety on offer.
Destroy All Humans sports a decent graphics engine, and does well in representing 1950s America in a bright and colourful fashion. The soundtrack is decent, with special kudos going to the game's voice actors (particularly Crypto, who sounds like a demented Jack Nicholson-John Wayne cross).
Destroy All Humans has some decent gameplay ideas which unfortunately don't all come together to create a compelling experience. Thankfully, there's more than enough humour to make this a worthwhile purchase for those who like to be laugh along with their games.
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