To be a good person, it's important to try and see things from other people's perspectives. For instance, while being an Earthling whose planet is being invaded by aliens is scary...what about the aliens? They have feelings, too. It's why everyone should play Destroy All Humans! (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia), an updated remake of the 2005 cult classic open world action game in which you got to be an alien just trying to do his job. And while this version of a 15-year-old game may sometimes be as quant as, well, a '50s sci-fi movie, it mostly has the same charm as the original.
For those who missed it, or just don't remember it, Destroy All Humans! casts you Cryptosporidium 137, a grey alien clone who looks like Paul from the movie Paul, but sounds like Jack Nicholson from the movie Mars Attacks! As this invading alien, you have to run around a suburb in the 1950s, causing mayhem and destruction that includes, but is not limited to, destroying buildings, harvesting DNA from stolen brains, and killing tons of those stupid shaved apes that are running around.
Aiding you in these missions are a variety of gadgets and weapons that would make Ratchet and Clank jealous. Early on, for example, your boss Pox sends you to the county fair, where you initially have to use your Holobob personal holographic projector to make yourself look like a human so you can scan other human's brains for information. You then have to brainwash some nice lady so she'll follow you back to your saucer, which you then use to destroy the fair by zapping things with its Death Ray, and by tossing tanks and other objects you grab with your saucer's Abduct-O-Ray.
Along with his ray guns, Crypto also has such mayhem-causing abilities as psychokinesis, which allows him to toss cows and people around like rag dolls. But he also has some shortcomings, such as an allergy to water that causes his shields and health to drain. He also has the misfortune of not arriving on Halloween, which is why people freak out and try to kill him when they see him, rather than telling him how cute he looks in his space man outfit.
Of course, as a fifteen-year-old game, Destroy All Humans! is a little behind the times. Especially since this isn't a total revamp like the recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. For starters, while it is an open world game, the world isn't as large as the ones we run around in Grand Theft Auto V or Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Instead, it's a series of small but open areas, though even then they're not as big as the ones in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or The Outer Worlds. They also don't have a much to do in them; typically, you just have your main objective, and some optional skill-based challenges. Granted, you can go back to an area once you've unlocked it, and can then engage in more open warfare while completing challenges and finding collectibles, but it's not the same.
Despite this, though, Destroy All Human! is still a fun action game. There's a good variety when it comes to the locations, and while none give you a ton to do, your missions are nicely varied.
It's also, for the most part, pretty funny. Not only does it poke fun at '50s sci-fi tropes, but it also takes jabs at human foibles as well. They even got Richard Steven Horvitz, who played Zim in Invader Zim, to do the voice of your boss, Pox.
As for this remake, much like the recent ones for Crash Bandicoot, this new version of Destroy All Humans! is essentially an improved but still faithful version of the original. For starters, the developers restored a mission that was planned for, but ultimately left out of the original. They also upgraded the visuals to modern standards, and did the same for the controls, making them more intuitive than they were fifteen years ago.
It's just too bad they didn't do that for the audio, the quality of which is noticeably rougher sounding than most games on modern systems. This, sadly, isn't the only problem with this remake of Destroy All Humans! Not being able to use the left trigger for iron sights when you're shooting is so 2005, as are some of the dumber jokes. It's also clear the developers didn't upgrade the menus, since the text in them is often so small that it's hard to read if you sit at a reasonable distance from your TV.
This version of Destroy All Humans! also has some glitches, including some weird and slightly annoying audio distortion. More problematic, though, was the glitch that came when I was supposed to use my Holobob to infiltrate a restricted area. After failing my first attempt — I accidentally scanned the wrong person — the mission restarted, but with me behind enemy lines, as a person who wasn't supposed to be there, and on top of a building. As a result, everyone noticed when I jumped down, and so my mission was a failure...again.
Even with these issues, though, this new version of Destroy All Humans! is as much fun as, well, the original was back in the day. Granted, it helps to have an appreciation for mid-2000 games and 50s sci-fi movies. And a healthy distain for humans doesn't hurt, either. But if you do, you'll have some good fun...well, destroying those humans.
Paul Semel has been writing about video games (and books, and music, and movies...) for more than twenty-five years. For more of his video game reviews, please visit his website, paulsemel.com.
ADD A COMMENT
The ESC Q&A: "Red Dust" Author Yoss
Seventeen years after it was first released in his native Cuba, the enigmatic science fiction writer Yoss is finally seeing his comedic 2003 sci-fi noir detective novel Polvo released in English as Red Dust (paperback, Kindle). In the following interview, Yoss — with help from translator Jenna Tang — discusses what inspired and influenced this novel.READ MORE