reviews\ Jul 4, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Destroy All Humans! - PS2 - Review

The sci-fi genre has always been a popular choice for the game industry. Alien invasions are as natural in gaming as Paris Hilton is on video cameras (although Martian attacks may not be appropriate for children). Usually, you take on the role as a humanity fighting the little green men for your ultimate survival. Developer Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Full Spectrum Warrior), however, brings us a different point of view as an alien race in Destroy All Humans! where the earth is your oyster ... well, call it oyster flambé. A mixed bag of simplistic gameplay, hilariously cheesy storyline and characters, and unwanted shortness, Destroy All Humans! doesn't soar to new heights like I hoped it would.

Your name: Crypto Sporidium 137. Your mission: Investigate the crash-landing of fellow Furonian, Sporidium 136, on Earth. Crypto's commander, Pox, informs him that survival of their Furon race is on the line because the usual cloning techniques for their reproduction is failing for the lack of genetic purity. Pox also gives Crypto the task of extracting human brains from Earth because we apparently have Furon DNA inside of us from some past experiment (bringing new meaning to the phrase "We all have a little alien in us"). Doing his best to investigate the landing of his fallen comrade while on the pursuit for pure human DNA (which can be traded in for weapon and saucer upgrades), Crypto must do so undercover from police, the military, and a mysterious government agency that wants to capture him for testing.

Destroy All Humans! can be labeled a third-person shooter with some free-roaming capabilities. Taking place in the 1950s, you will find Crypto wandering through all sorts of environments like a working farm, a busy town, and a military base in the desert. Packing all sorts of weaponry including a Zap-O-Matic, Disintegrator Ray, and Anal Probe (their names explain themselves), Crypto's "first encounter of the third kind" will also be humanity's "final encounter of the third kind" if you get my drift ... Okay, that was incredibly lame. But in Destroy All Humans!, that's almost what the developers were aiming for. Everything from Crypto's classic looking flying saucer to in-game fifties flicks with "Breaking News" just wreaks of cheesiness, but it is in this era-specific storyline that the humor lies. Watching humans react to the Anal Probe is funny, watching their heads explode because of the pressure is funnier.

As an alien, it would be an insult to assume these "higher beings" possessed no powers. Crypto's head ain't filled with apple sauce; his enormous brain contains all sorts of psychic powers like cortex scan (to read the thoughts of every being an animal Crypto can find), Psychokinesis (allowing Crypto the ability to elevate and manipulate living creatures and inanimate objects), and Holobob (a virtual disguise of any human Crypto sees and he can illuminate the hologram for a limited period of time). With these powers, our little alien friend can escape most of the human forces. The secret government agents, however, can see through the Holobob disguise and pack weapons of their own. This is the perfect time to point out a flaw in the combat system. Humans fighting Crypto, even at ridiculous close ranges, don't leave the kind of health impact they should make. Their aim is always off if you keep moving and firing (something law enforcement is incapable of) and on that off chance you are in the position that your health meter is low, you can simply run off and hide somewhere and wait for your health to rejuvenate.

Crypto also possesses a flying saucer which offers simple controls. Although the spacecraft cannot ascend or descend in the air, you can move in every other direction and lay waste to buildings and vehicles that reside below you with its assortment of weapons: a Death Ray for energized shots, an Abducto Beam to pick up objects and move them elsewhere, a Sonic Boom for a shockwave of destruction, and a Quantum Deconstructor which fires nuclear bombs. Be aware, the humans fire back at your flying saucer. In fact, tanks have a unrealistic aim mechanism that can hit you every shot (even when moving at top speeds). All together, the gameplay is very simple. Sure, there are side missions that cast you away from the immediate course of action, but a lot of the time these mini games are nothing more than a unneeded distraction and add no value to the gameplay. You will find yourself in repetitive combat scenarios: moving, shooting, moving, shooting, moving and shooting. The repetition doesn't last too long, however, as this game's main story doesn't last long (I completed the game in just under 10 hours at normal pace).

Graphically, Destroy All Humans! performs exceptionally well in being an alien game. It looks and feels exactly how you would expect a 1950's sci-fi movie to play. The character models are reminiscent of the eras fashions, the towns and vehicles are vintage 50s style, and Crypto is the full alien package (big head, small body). The environments are good but suffer from random environmental pop-ups such as bushes and people that appear out of nowhere. The audio department even tops the graphics with the hilarious character dialogue, special effects, and soundtrack. Crypto doesn't sound like you think he would; at just under 4 feet, he portrays a voice more suitable for a character 3 times his size (scruffy and deep). When reading the minds of humans, Crypto hears some of the funniest and down-right stupidest stuff ever to come out of a person's head. Thank god you can repeat what they think again and again for added laugh value. The guns and flying saucer all sound right for the job and the soundtrack feels like it came right out of the music book of Danny Elfman in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks (Garry Schyman composes).

Altogether, I think Destroy All Humans! had real potential to be the next great console hit. I'm not saying I didn't like it, but the mediocre gameplay just isn't enough to justify a $50 purchase. But do yourself a favor and rent it, its a fun adventure that'll you'll easily be able to play through during the rental period.

Review Scoring Details for Destroy All Humans!

Gameplay: 7.0
Short, simplistic, but also entertaining.

Graphics: 8.8
Pushing the PS2's graphical capabilities, Destroy All Humans! looks simply beautiful.

Sound: 9.0
Finally an alien game that gets the sound of a flying saucer right!

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 8.0
Are we alone in the universe? After playing this game, I sure hope so.

Overall: 7.4
Destroy All Humans! is a fun experience that puts you in a refreshing role, but there is just not enough in here for me to recommend anything besides renting.



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