The day its Earth stood still.
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Aliens, B-movie, Sci-Fi
Above all, playing Destroy All Humans made me miss the now-defunct Pandemic Studios so much. Seriously, a semi open-world game where you play as an alien with death rays, mind powers, and an anal probe in a 50s era setting reminiscent of the B-movie sci-fi classics of yesteryears?
Frankly, I’ll never get tired of that, but 15 years is a long time, especially for a game. While Black Forest Games’ Destroy All Humans is a remake, it feels more of an extensive remaster instead, replicating the original game almost beat-by-beat. As a result, it suffers from a lot of the original 2005 game’s problems, despite its spick and span makeover.
But enough of that, let’s get to the good stuff first.
Blame It On The Commies
Destroy All Humans is set in 1950s America at the height of the Cold War, where the entire country is wary of the Commie (Communist Soviet Russia) threat. Enter Cryptosporidium 137, or Crypto for short, who has landed on Earth to harvest human DNA. That’s the gist of it, and players assume the role of Crypto while being aided by his boss/companion Orthopox, or Pox for short.
This makes for roughly less than ten hours worth of a B-movie sci-fi plot, with all the meta jokes and campy dialogue you’d expect. They’re still pretty funny 15 years later, but some might find them a bit outdated. The best character in the game isn’t even Crypto himself (who sounds like an angry version of Jack Nicholson), but Pox, who is voiced by none other than Richard Horvitz of cult classic Invader Zim fame.
Even if you’re not into all that cheesy B-movie sci-fi stuff, the best part of Destroy All Humans has always been its chaotic sandbox gameplay. The game’s main campaign is split into missions across six maps, consisting of usually stealth and action sections, the latter of which are the highlights of the game.
Armed with four different weapons (an electrical zapper, a disintegrator, an ion detonator that flings bombs, and an anal probe) and a bevvy of mind powers, Destroy All Humans is at its best when you’re able to let loose on the poor humans (or monkeys, as Crypto likes to call them).
Using telekinesis to throw people and objects at them, while turning them to cinders and skeletons with your weapons, while their brains are literally popping out of their heads, causing mayhem and destruction an absolute delight.
You also get a jetpack to traverse the world, and later unlock an upgrade that allows Crypto to basically skate everywhere, making traversal much less of a hassle. However, that’s not much of a problem, considering how the game isn’t even fully open-world (more on that later).
Players also get to fly around in Crypto’s flying saucer or spaceship, with death rays, sonic weapons and tractor beams galore. You can upgrade both Crypto (and his weapons) and his saucer by accumulating the game’s in-game currency; human DNA, which can be collected by harvesting human brains (yes, brains).
Still, we should give credit where credit is due. I was a kid when I played the original 2005 game, but looking back at old gameplay videos, it would look rough now. Black Forest Games have done a good job by updating the character models, cutscenes and environments to make them look, well, close to the standards of 2020.
While the facial expressions and general animations of human characters look terribly awkward, Crypto himself moves great and controls smoothly. However, the audio of the dialogue and other elements may seem a bit iffy, since the developer used the original audio from the 2005 game, instead of re-recording them.
We Deserve A Full Remake
You have to understand that Destroy All Humans is very much still a 2005 game at its core. The game isn’t truly open-world like Rockstar Games’ GTA franchise or Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Instead, there are six maps you can choose from on a world map of sorts. The problem with this is that how smaller in scale everything feels compared to modern open-world games.
The campaign missions also feel disconnected, due to their structure. When players choose a mission to play, they start as abruptly as they end. You’re just dropped into the map and have to complete the objective, with cutscenes in between. The developer tried to add depth by including optional objectives in each campaign mission, but they’re an additional distraction at best.
Like I previously mentioned above, there stealth and action sections during missions. The action sections usually involve Crypto just having to kill more humans, so it’s just an excuse for players to once again let loose and that’s the point of the entire game anyway.
What really brings the game down (and makes its 2005 roots even more evident) are the awful stealth sections. They’re one-note and simplistic in nature, as players are forced to take on a human disguise to sneak behind enemy lines.
It’s annoying that the human disguise needs to be constantly refuelled by reading the minds of more humans.
They’re simply not fun. As the name of the game suggests, it’s best when players are engaging in destruction. These stealth sections feel half-baked and remnants of 2000s-era gaming that were left behind for good reason. They can be occasionally fun, but not when you have to do them for about half of the game.
There’s also a huge problem near the end of the game’s 10-hour or so duration. The game expects players to be well-upgraded for the final boss fight, which is worth pointing out; is the only second boss fight featured in the entire game. It’s all smooth sailing until the game drops a massive difficulty spike, punishing the player for their lack of upgrades.
I played through the game at a steady pace, completing all the campaign missions while still doing all the optional objectives. Apparently, it still wasn’t nearly enough for my Crypto to be able to hold his own against the final boss, which I painfully experienced after futilely trying to defeat the two-part final boss fight for almost two hours straight (and failing).
It’s honestly one of the most imbalanced and unfairly difficult boss fights I’ve played in this gaming generation (and that includes Soulsborne-like games like Nioh 2). How did I overcome this unfair imbalance? You see, Black Forest Games didn’t just remake (or remaster) the original game. They also added a bunch of extra challenges that weren’t in the original.
These include ones four types of challenges: Armageddon, Race, Abduction, and Rampage. Rampage and Armageddon are focused on destruction and completing certain objectives, while Abduction tasks players with throwing specific objects or people into an abduction beam and Race challenges how fast you can traverse the environment and reach the finish line.
It’s not enough that some of these challenges feel unfair and imbalanced themselves, but that I was forced to play them in order to be able to finish the game. Sure, some of them were hectic and fun, but I wish I could have played them on my own time instead of it being a necessity to gain access to more upgrades.
So, I played and aced all 24 challenges in the game, fully upgrading my Crypto. It was only then that the final boss fight felt less cheap and fairer, but by then I was just eager to finish the game and obtain my hard-earned Platinum trophy.
I’n not too sure about the PC or Xbox One versions of the game, but when playing on the PS4, the performance of the game isn’t perfect. When the action gets too hectic or there’s too many enemies or particle effects on-screen, I noticed a bit of lag and framerate drops.
Nothing that breaks the game or makes it unplayable, of course, but still a problem especially for the aforementioned challenges that require more precision and timing. The game also crashed on me several times, but weirdly enough, these usually happen during loading screens and not during actual gameplay.
A Better-Looking Version Of A 2005 Game
I enjoyed my time with Black Forest Games’ 2020 remake of Destroy All Humans, despite my frustrations with imbalances and some bugs. However, most of that is because I played the original 2005 game, and thus I still like a lot of what the game has to offer. Objectively, it’s a missed opportunity on both publisher THQ Nordic and developer Black Forest Games’ parts that they didn’t just do a full-on remake or reboot from scratch.
That would have certainly resulted in a superior game, and most importantly, one that feels like it belongs to the current generation. Instead, we’re left with a 2005 game that looks better and plays a bit better, but with all the problems still intact. Perhaps 2006’s Destroy All Humans 2 might have been a better choice, considering that it improved on many of the problems suffered by its predecessor.
- Decent graphics overhaul.
- Mayhem and destructions still feels as good as it was in 2005.
- B-movie sci-fi setting is great for fans of the genre.
- Outdated mission structure.
- Awful stealth sections.
- Plagued balancing issues and bugs.
FINAL SCORE: 60/100