In 2005, Pandemic Studios and THQ introduced us to a quirky alien named Crypto-137. He starred in a somewhat popular, but seemingly unspectacular PlayStation 2 and original Xbox game called Destroy All Humans! Fast forward to today, and we now have at our fingertips a brand new, fully remade version of that very game. One that brings the anal probes, UFO lasers and comedy into full high definition.
Destroy All Humans! begins with a crash landing, as an alien soldier ends up being shot down and captured on Earth, ushering in Roswell vibes. It then moves on to the birth of a clone of that very same alien, who is awarded the name Crypto-137. This new attempt at success is quickly given a mission to return to Earth, infiltrate the local populace and obtain Furon DNA. Why would alien DNA be on our planet? Well, the game states that early humans were ‘blessed’ with pieces of it, and through the generations we’ve all continued to be born with it. Well, these digital humans have.
Things are set in the late 1950s, during a time of perceived innocence and much greater morals. As such, all of the people, settings and technology you’ll encounter are both dated and stylized to fit that time. So, too, is the dialogue; a lot of which is pretty odd and somewhat comical.
This quest to save their kind kicks off on Turnipseed Farm, which is located in the middle of American nowhere. Crypto lands, meets cows, and learns all about them while lifting them up in the air and doing mean things to their bovine meat suits. Shortly afterwards, a redneck farmer and his wife encounter this being from another world, and shit starts to hit the proverbial fan. It isn’t long before the army comes out, too; forcing our anti-hero to retreat to his ship and blow the crap out of every single one of the armed bastards.
The rest of the game’s twenty odd missions alternates between creative mayhem and forced stealth. At times you’ll be able to use your jetpack, telekinesis ability and colourful weapons (including an electricity gun, a disintegration ray and an anal probe) to cause mayhem, while at other times you’ll have to assume the identities of unsuspecting people in order to get past others without raising alarm. This may mean analyzing and becoming multiple people en route to getting into the tent where a county fair’s voted-in queen is, trying to assume the identity of a town mayor or perhaps trying to get past the army. Changing into a human being isn’t hard, but staying human requires reading the minds of others, in order to keep your brain juice flowing. Or something like that.
Being spotted as yourself means game over during forced stealth missions, of which there are a surprising amount, especially early on. The same is true of using a weapon to hurt a human being, because that obviously outs you too. Destroy All Humans! doesn’t excel or stand out during these levels, which are rather bland and unspectacular to be honest. It’s at its best when you’re able to use your crazy arsenal (and your powerful flying saucer’s lasers) to terrorize, hurt and destroy the digital humans and their vehicles.
The game’s levels are quite varied and fun, and there’s even a new mission that was never made part of the original release. However, I must admit that I never expected so much forced stealth. It gets boring after a bit, and isn’t at all what I thought this game would be like. Thankfully, it’s not all there is, as there’s a good amount of mayhem to enjoy.
There’s also reason to revisit levels, because at least most offer challenges to complete, be they Abduction, Race or Armageddon driven. One can also simply opt to replay levels, which span several different locations, including Turnipseed Farm, Santa Modesta (which has beaches and a seaside town), Area 42 and Capitol City. Redoing things, and completing all missions and challenges to the best of your abilities, will give you lots of currency to spend on upgrades for both the ship and Crypto himself. Heck, you’ll even unlock new skins, which will appeal to some.
Although I owned a couple PlayStation 2 consoles and played a crap load of games on them, I never did play Destroy All Humans! or its sequel. I rented tons of games, but just never rented it. I guess I thought I’d get to it eventually, or just never focused in on it because it didn’t seem to have set the world on fire. Either way, I eventually became a bit regretful about missing out on them, along with missing The Simpsons: Hit and Run and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. As such, I was pretty excited when I heard that this game was receiving a full remake at the hands of THQ Nordic and Black Forest Games.
After spending hours playing this thing, though, I can’t say I kept the same excitement once I went hands-on. While I enjoyed this thing for the most part, it was different than I’d expected, and wasn’t as unforgettable as I’d hoped. It’s solid, fine, fun and pretty well made, but it’s not spectacular in any way, much like the original version apparently wasn’t. I believe that, had I played the first one back in the mid-2000s and held nostalgia for it, I would’ve enjoyed this update more, but I simply didn’t have that going for me. That’s not to say that Destroy All Humans! (2020) is a bad game, because it’s not. It’s just nothing special.
It’s always kind of difficult to score such a remake, because there are two things that need to be taken into account. One is the job that the team who remade (or remastered, which is often the case) the game did. In this case, they did a rather commendable job. This is a solid and nice-looking update, which looks very modern and is no slouch in the presentation department. There are some minor issues, like pop-in and the odd hiccup here and there, but nothing too worrisome or too negative. It’s not broken in the least.
That said, you can’t just rate the remaking of the thing, because there’s always the base game to take into account. The remake could be flawless, but the source material is what drives it, unless major changes have been made. From what I can tell, though, THQ Nordic’s version of this ‘classic’ is pretty faithful to the original, although it does have that lost mission included. As nice as it looks, sounds and runs, the base experience isn’t spectacular in any way. It’s solid, and will surely offer lots of nostalgia-based fun to those who loved the PS2/Xbox iteration, but it doesn’t stand out in any way. Too much stealth slows things down and gets in the way of the fun.
I really, truly wish that I’d enjoyed this Destroy All Humans! remake more than I did. As I said, I was looking forward to it for several months to a year. As soon as it was announced, I knew I had to play it. There’s fun to be had, but it’s not the standout or deliriously enjoyable experience I was hoping it would be. There’s some of that, but there’s also an overabundance of forced stealth and infiltration, which doesn’t help things.
If you liked the original, you’ll definitely enjoy and appreciate this fifteen years later update. The same will likely be true if you simply want to terrorize humans and blow crap up as an alien. Just don’t expect a masterpiece. Then again, it’s only $39.99, which is nice.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game. I played it using our review Xbox One X. We were provided with a review copy.
- Well updated, with nice visuals and solid audio
- Quite a few missions and challenges
- Lots of upgrades to purchase
- Far too much forced and boring stealth
- Doesn't stand out in today's industry