Check out our video review:
It appears the rumors are true. Aliens do, in fact, want to destroy all humans. Why? Probably because they view them as useless, parasitic, vile creatures and based on my own experience, some of them are just assholes. But more importantly, because it’s the name of the game. Developed by Pandemic Studios and published by THQ, Destroy All Humans! was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in June, 2005. A remake was released for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2020 and features content that was cut from the original game along with some new features. For this review, I played the PC version of the remake. I should mention that, as of this review, I have never played the original so this a review of the remake as a game and not a comparison to the original. So don’t go into this expecting a detailed look at the differences between the two.
Destroy All Humans! centers on an invasion of Earth by the Furon race of alien life. At some point long ago, the aliens implanted their DNA into humans after they realized they were unable to propagate due to gene mutation. During a rocket test, the rocket destroys a ship carrying the alien known as Crypto-136 resulting in his capture. Afterwards, Crypto-137 and Orthopox-13, travel to Earth to rescue 136 and retrieve human brain stems which contain pure Furon DNA. During the invasion, the aliens learn of Majestic, a secret organization that manipulates governments and seek to destroy the Furons. Any alien activity is covered up by the government and media, which they often attribute to Communism. Destroy All Humans! offers a satirical look at 1950’s America and parodies the culture and political attitudes of the time. The game plays up the McCarthyism and Red Scare elements and pays homage to the movies and shows of the era. When it comes to the voice acting, it’s the aliens that steal the show. Grant Albrecht voices Crypto and his performance is not only comical but also helps give the character an interesting personality. I found the performance to be non-stereotypical or what I would expect a little grey alien to sound like. Crypto is frequently in contact with Pox who remains on the mothership during the invasion. Pox is voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz who is known for his voice work on Invader Zim.
The player takes on the role of Crypto-137 and the story plays out in missions. I would consider Destroy All Humans! to be a open-ended action and stealth game. You can disguise yourself as humans to get around easily and undetected and also run and fly around and destroy everything. Missions are set in different locations around the U.S. which are unlocked for exploration as you progress. Crypto can walk, run, jump, dash and use his jetpack to get around. He’s protected by a shield that can only withstand a certain amount of damage from attacks and water but it will recharge over time and by acquiring brain stems. No only can Crypto wreak havoc on-foot, but he can also do so from the skies in his Saucer. Each location is basically a small open world and when not on a mission, you’re able to roam around these locations freely and do as you please.
Crypto can utilize his mental abilities and weapons to kill humans and complete objectives. The game actually gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to how you want to destroy things and kill people. He can read people’s minds, make them follow him and fight, disguise himself as any human he comes across, pick up and launch items and humans with Psychokinesis, and extract human brains. Then there’s the weapons, all of which are pretty awesome. He can electrocute foes with the Zap-O-Matic, reduce them to ashes with the Disintegrator Ray, decimate them with the Ion Detonator, and rip out their brain stems with the Anal Probe. Weapons like the Disintegrator Ray and Ion Detonator consume ammo but alien ammunition isn’t just lying around on Earth. Luckily, Crypto can Transmog objects into ammo. The Saucer comes with it’s own set of weapons and abilities, and is great for causing mass destruction. It can level buildings, pick up and launch things, and deflect projectiles. My only issue with the Saucer is the camera. It’s always pointed somewhat downward so I could never see as far ahead as I’d like to.
Missions will have you completing various primary and optional objectives and I do feel the difficulty is sometimes inconsistent. For the most part, the challenge ramps up as you progress but some missions are simply more difficult than others that succeed them. In my opinion, it’s the missions that have you destroying things and wreaking havoc that are the most enjoyable. There’s a lot of what I’ll call stealth missions. These types of missions require you to disguise yourself so you can infiltrate areas. And sometimes you’ll need to disguise yourself as specific humans to gain access to specific areas. These are cool at first but quickly become tiring because you have to constantly scan people’s minds to keep the disguise intact which means you often have to keep moving and stay in crowded areas. You can’t stop for too long like if you want to think and analyze your surroundings unless there’s a human nearby that you can scan and that can get a little frustrating. Plus, you have to avoid the enemies and hazards that can see through or break your disguise. On a positive note, many of these missions end with objectives that let you slaughter the humans and destroy things. When a mission is completed, you’ll be rewarded with DNA and more if you complete the optional objectives. The DNA is the real incentive to complete the optional objectives because it acts as currency that can be spent on upgrades.
Once a mission is completed, Crypto returns to the mothership. From here, you can proceed to the next mission, change skins, view the archives, and visit the lab to purchase upgrades. You can upgrade the abilities and weapons of both Crypto and the Saucer. As you progress through the story, new upgrades are unlocked and each one does make you feel more powerful, even making some objectives and challenges easier. Some of the significant ones include being able to lift vehicles with Psychokinesis, the dash upgrade that lets you skate to get around faster, and being able to recharge the Saucer’s Quantum Desconstructor by using the other weapons. Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade Crypto’s jetpack. With the exception of certain challenges, you can’t fly around indefinitely or for any extended period of time. It’s primarily used for reaching higher elevations and avoiding projectiles.
Destroy All Humans! features six locations and you can explore any unlocked ones at your own leisure. You can kill people, destroy things, fly around in your Saucer, and every location has Probes scattered around which act as collectibles and give you some DNA. There’s also four challenges per location and you’re rewarded with stars based on how well you do and the more stars you earn, the more DNA you earn. The challenges are Abduction, Race, Rampage, and Armageddon. The latter two are my favorites because they’re all about death and destruction. Armageddon and Race are the only challenges that don’t offer much variety compared to the other two. Race has you chasing a probe and collecting the packets it drops and Armageddon requires you to destroy things with your Saucer. Each challenge gives you a way to earn extra DNA and in Armageddon, it’s always by draining vehicles. If you want to earn those stars, especially in the beginning when your Saucer lacks upgrades, you’ll want to go after the vehicles which kind of defeats the idea of this challenge to decimate an entire location. But it’s still fun, regardless. Abduction and Rampage mix things up a little more because their conditions for extra DNA differ in each location and some of the conditions are much easier to complete if you have certain upgrades.
The environments in Destroy All Humans! are well crafted and do a good job at capturing the atmosphere of the era. You’ll get to wreak havoc on farmland, in a rural town, the suburbs, desert, and some cities. Each location is basically a destruction sandbox and towards the end of the game, I felt like I was only taking on missions so I could earn enough DNA to upgrade my shit so I could just destroy things and kill people without restriction. Exploring locations is the only time you’re basically free to do whatever you want and it’s this freedom that makes this game so much fun. You can pick up and launch humans into the sky and watch them fall to their death, smash them into things, and drown them by hurling them into water because, apparently, nobody can swim in 1950’s America. You can use your weapons, hurl objects and explosives, and blow up vehicles. If Crypto is not in disguise, the authorities will be alerted to his presence and eventually Majestic agents and the military will arrive to try and take him out. You’ll have to contend with police, tanks, and what I think are robots.
One thing I don’t like is that you can’t land your Saucer anywhere while exploring. You have to land at designated landing spots. I don’t mind this limitation during missions but when you’re exploring, there’s no real goal. You can do whatever you want and take on the challenges which can be activated by reaching their activation points in the environments and you’ll have to travel to them on-foot. It’s not a huge deal but if you don’t want to bother disguising yourself or staying out of sight, you’ll most likely get attacked on the way there and it would have been nice to be able to land closer to them. Humans will use traditional firearms and throw grenades, some of the tougher foes use energy weapons, and Mutants have special abilities. You’ll always be outnumbered in combat and enemies primarily rush you and don’t stop coming so you always need to be on the move and even with an upgraded shield, you can still be killed rather quickly if you’re not careful.
Visually, Destroy All Humans! is a gorgeous game. It’s very bright, vibrant, and colorful with excellent lighting and visual effects. The game features a lot of neat details that not only help to nail the 1950’s aesthetic but also add some realism to the otherwise cartoon-y presentation. Each location is different and provides a somewhat different tone and feeling. Lush foliage covers rural and farmland areas, fog covers the water in Union Town, and your Saucer’s death ray will leave behind burnt terrain. When buildings are destroyed, they beautifully explode and crumble leaving behind smoke and rubble. The soundtrack is comprised of tunes that sound like they could have been ripped from horror films of the era and they perfectly compliment the game’s style. The sound effects are alright. I think the human guns could sound better but explosions sound good complete with the sounds of crumbling and the “pop” sound heard whenever you extract a brain is always satisfying. On the technical side, the game did crash on me a few times but, thankfully, it autosaves frequently. I also noticed some frame rate dips and stuttering when there was a lot of action on-screen.
I had a fun time with Destroy All Humans! but I’ll be honest, I expected it to be a little better. For one thing, I was expecting more locations and more to do. There’s only six locations and if you don’t explore and do the challenges and just stick to the story missions, you can beat it rather quickly and it’s not a super long game. However, it does have a good amount of replay value and the locations that are on offer are diverse. Destroy All Humans! is silly and humorous and really shines when it lets you do whatever you want. It puts you in playgrounds ripe for chaos and destruction. When the story forces you into stealth situations, that’s when things can get problematic but when it comes to annihilating the human race, you’re given plenty of ways to do that and it’s a lot of fun. It’s just a shame many missions either restrict what you’re allowed to do or encourage gameplay that goes against what’s most enjoyable about the game. Granted, outside of missions and challenges, you can explore each location freely and destroy everything in your path but there’s nothing to really work towards when doing this besides finding all the drones so the fun may only last for so long hence why I wish there was more to do. And you’re going to want all the tools and upgrades to get the most out of the gameplay and the best way to do that is to play through the missions and challenges. That said, each location features the same challenge types so I think more of them along with more variety to them would have been nice. I never played the original sequels and despite this being a remake, I think it makes for a good foundation for a series that could improve upon what was established here in a lot of cool and interesting ways.
Ultimately, I would recommend Destroy All Humans! to those looking for a fun time. It’s a reflection and parody of a different era and culture and the result is an interesting and humorous experience. I don’t think it reaches its full potential but the gameplay was fun enough to keep me going to the end of the story. It’s the kind of game that can be enjoyed for a short time or long sessions. You can play through missions, challenges, or simply explore and obliterate locations at your own pace. If you like the idea of wiping out the human race, definitely check out Destroy All Humans!