Review: Destroy All Humans

Intro
In the 1950’s, the public had much to worry about. Women constantly monitored the clock waiting to take their next dose of valium, men kept a watchful eye on their stocks and bonds, while both sexes were vigilant in the fight against communism. Oh, and there was also the overwhelming suspicion of an inevitable, world-ending alien invasion and enslavement to mankind’s new master. At least that’s what THQ and Pandemic Studios portray in their latest game Destroy All Humans.

Story
As the game begins, a flying saucer piloted by Cryptosporidium-136, a member of the alien Furon species, is shot down over nuclear test site Area 42. As Cryptosporidium-137 (136’s clone), you must find and rescue your clone brother while teaching the human race a lesson. You are aided in your task by Orthopox, a very intelligent Furon who takes residence in the mother ship and provides upgrades and mission objectives along the way. With Pox’s help, Crypto will make mankind pay for capturing one of their own.

The story progresses nicely with every completed mission. Upon finishing a mission, you are treated to a newspaper explanation of the events that just occurred. For example, after crashing a pool party with your Disintegrator Ray and obliterating the town’s police force, the game informs the public that rowdy teens, crazed by jazz music, incited the destructive riot. You may also notice nods towards Mars Attacks and other alien themed B movies of the 50’s and 60’s. In all, the story moves the gameplay forward and gives a great explanation for the different enemy units you encounter as you advance through the missions. Plus, it’s always a nice bonus to play the part of the villain.

Gameplay
Destroy All Humans offers a variety of unique gameplay elements including 3rd person action, stealth and environment destruction via Cryto’s UFO. All three styles are well interspersed throughout the game, sometime requiring them all to be used in a single mission. This keeps the game fresh and prevents boredom from sinking in during its numerous missions.

While walking on foot, you have an assortment of weapons to choose from to teach those pesky monkeys that your species is not one to mess with. You start out with a simple Zap-O-Matic which shoots forth a stream of electricity to use against your enemies. You then go on to obtain an Anal Probe (for harvesting fresh brain stems for upgrades), a Disintegrator Ray (similar to the energy weapon the Martians used in Mars Attacks), and an Ion Detonator which causes massive destruction to anything around it and vaporizes any humans caught within its blast radius. Orthopox can also upgrade these items causing the Zap-O-Matic to chain across multiple targets, the Disintegrator Ray to shoot multiple beams, and the Ion Detonator to cause more damage.

Having an intellect that is superior to that of their human opponents, the Furons have an array of psychic abilities at their disposal. In order to get through certain areas undetected, or to cause a distraction, you may command Crypto to control human minds. This will allow you to sneak through an area or implant a suggestion to get past an obstacle, say a gate that may only be unlocked by a military guard. Crypto also has telekinesis, which may be used to lift many objects into the air (including tanks if properly upgraded) and fling into the distance or other enemies with a mind push. Your psychic abilities also give you another way to extract precious brain stems and are recharged by scanning the thoughts of nearby humans.

Rounding out Crypto’s abilities are his jetpack (used to gain altitude or traverse short spans of distance) and his HaloBob which allows Crypto to take the form of a human for as long as his mental power holds out. In this disguise, Crypto may easily navigate through most human enemies without being noticed.

The ability to don a human disguise plays well into the stealth portion of Destroy All Humans. Many missions require you to navigate Crypto into hostile territory to complete an objective. Although the HaloBob does aid you in these situations, Crypto’s radar is even more useful by displaying the locations of armed enemies and unarmed humans in your general vicinity as well as where mission objectives are located on the map. This helps to you sneak by those pesky men in black while reducing the time taken to find that next building or human that needs vaporized.

And of course, no alien is complete without his very own flying saucer and Crypto is no exception. At nearly any time you may enter your saucer to move take your terror airborne. Crypto’s UFO comes fully loaded with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. You may use anything from the ship’s Death Ray to its Sonic Boom cannon in order to destroy tanks, cars, or even entire cities.

By collecting the brain stems of your human adversaries (either through the anal probe or via mind powers post mortem) you obtain DNA that may be used to purchase upgrades to your saucer, weapons or psychic abilities from Pox. Although it is easy to obtain mass quantities of DNA due to the repeatable nature of the game’s side missions, the upgrades are unlocked by completing missions related to the main story. This keeps the game challenging by ensuring that the odds are always even for both you and the computer.

Destroy All Humans is not without its frustrating points. At times a mission may require you to hypnotize a human and plant the suggestion for him to travel to another point on the map. However, once a human is hypnotized and the AI takes over his/her movements, it has a hard time navigating around simple obstacles such as trees or boxes and also has a tendency to make the human run into traffic and get killed by an oncoming vehicle. When this happens, your mission fails and you must make another attempt.

When trying to navigate through hostile territory disguised as a human, the game does not allow you to jump. This forces you to find an alternate path to your objective which often leads you into an enemy that can see through disguises, blowing your cover. Also when navigating on foot, Crypto must be weary of water because much like the main characters of the Grand Theft Auto series, he cannot swim.

The last annoyance is that there are no checkpoints within a mission. Since many missions have multiple steps, if you happen to die or fail any one of the objectives you must restart the entire level from the beginning. This is especially aggravating on the last level when you are forced into two major boss fights one after the other, both taking possibly 10 to 15 minutes each to complete.

Graphics
The developers of Destroy All Humans, Pandemic, did a fair job capturing the look and feel of a 1950ish America. This can be seen through clothing of the human characters and detail of the vehicles they drive. Even while in saucer mode you can see each human walking along the streets, each car driving by, and also the way the environment blends right in with the cityscapes.

Unfortunately the movie sequences are sometimes jerky and the in game cut scenes between Pox and Crypto are more like two mannequin heads talking to one another. This is because only their mouths move and nothing else. On some levels, especially those in the desert, much of the environment pops into place only when you’re nearly on top of it. Lastly, when there is an abundance on screen action the game tends to lag which occasionally leads to Crypto not being able to avoid enemy attacks quick enough. This is especially true in the final level.

Sound
Keeping with the 1950’s sci-fi B movie feel, Destroy All Humans has an excellent soundtrack complete with the Theremin sounds typical of sci-fi films of that era. Couple this with a well written script, including humorous lines from the enemy robots and scans of human minds, and it makes for an excellent and immersive gaming experience.

There are a few issues that detract from the overall sound though. During a some of the movie sequences the audio did not match up with what the character was saying. Also, Orthopox was voiced by Richard Horvitz whose most notable voice acting role is Invader Zim. The problem is that Horvitz uses the same voice for both roles. So while playing the game I sometimes felt as if I was playing an extension of the Invader Zim television show. Additionally, sometimes so many sound events were occurring at the same time that this caused other sound events to not play at all. However, since the entire mission objectives are displayed on the screen, this was more of an annoyance than anything else.

Controls
Controlling Crypto both on foot and in his saucer is very simplistic and easy to learn. The game even displays the button layout for commands currently available on the screen which eliminates any confusion when in the middle of a heated battle.

The only improvements that I could see would be adding the ability to adjust the proximity of the camera while in saucer mode. I often felt too close to Crypto’s UFO to see what other enemies were lurking around the surrounding environment. The turning movement of the saucer was also slow, which made quickly eliminating enemies a bit challenging since all weapons are launched from the saucer’s front.

Replay
There is a surprising amount of extra content to complete once you are finished with the main storyline. Bonuses are unlocked based on the percentage of the game you have completed. The percentage is determined based on the number of main missions, side missions, and the number of Furon probes you’ve been able to find scattered across each area. The unlockable bonuses mainly include video footage such as game trailers, E3, in-game movies, a synopsis of Plan 9 from Outer Space, and the entire Teenagers from Outer Space feature film. Even without these bonuses though, it’s always fun to simply see how much mayhem and destruction you can cause whenever you feel like relieving a bit of stress.

Conclusion
With about 10 to 12 hours of story, plus any extra time taken to unlock bonuses, Destroy All Humans is a solid title. It incorporates action with a touch of stealth which makes it hard to put down. By taking many queues from the whole sci-fi move genre, Pandemic developed a title with an entertaining story as well as a little adult humor thrown in for the older crowd. Although there are a few sound and gameplay issues, the replay value will keep you coming back for more devastation.

About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including VGBlogger.com.