Destroy All Humans – Everyone Needs a Little Crypto in Their Lives
PC, Xbox One, PS4
Schlocky B-grade sci-fi is a staple of cinema. There is just something about the terrible science, the bad acting and the cheesy stories that keep audiences coming back for more. It has been a genre that has filled cinemas and drive-ins for almost as long as movies have existed. But in the world of video games, there seems to be little space for this, the guilty-pleasure genre. Everything always seems so dire, so tragic, so serious. But during the Xbox/PS2 era, one game rocked that all-too-dire boat with a wise-cracking alien that sounded suspiciously like Jack Nicholson. That game was Destroy all Humans and despite its clunky controls, its humour and setting earned it a cult status. It even sold enough for one full sequel and a Wii spin-off. Then, in the aftermath of the original THQ bankruptcy, Destroy All Humans was seemingly a dead franchise. But in the year 2020, a year with perhaps the biggest run of deep, dark and depressing triple-A games we have ever seen, Destroy All Humans is invading again, bringing light into our gaming lives.
For those that don’t know, the story of Destroy All Humans! goes something like this: After the US military accidentally shot down Cryptosporidium (which is also the scientific name for a microscopic bacteria that causes diarrhoea) 136’s flying saucer over Roswell, New Mexico in the 1950s. This causes Earth to come under the gaze of the Furon Empire and Cryptosporidium 137 (or just Crypto). Really that is all you need to know as this is a story that only exists to deliver jokes and give Crypto a chance to cause havoc at several locations across the good ole USA. The one-liners come thick and fast, playing on American stereotypes with glee. In fact, the amount of jokes directed at the Stars and Stripes seems almost staggering and despite the fact the game is set in the 50s’, in the era of Trump, Cronoavirus and colossal idiocy, they land right on the nose being both timely and chuckle-inducing. As is the case with any sort of media along these lines, not all of the jokes hit, but I am pleased to say that the misses are few and far between.
Gameplay is broken up into two distinct parts. The majority of the game sees players take control of Crypto as he works his way through both story and side missions set in a range of large maps. Crypto’s missions fall into two basic categories. The first is all-out attack, using Crypto’s weaponry and special abilities to bring destruction to the citizens of Earth. There is a lot of fun to be had here, especially once players have unlocked some of Crypto’s movement abilities (like the ability to “skate” across the ground on a gravity bubble) and crazier weaponry. There is a great flow to the combat with the mix of power combat and straight-up gunplay. The ability to transform inanimate objects into ammunition is also a master touch, adding an extra level of strategy to proceedings. The second style of mission for Crypto is Stealth. This involves Crypto scanning a human and taking their form to sneak into military bases or science installations to steal secrets. It is a simple idea, but it breaks up the combat sections nicely.
The second component to gameplay is flying-saucer combat. Using Crypto’s saucer to blast, fry and zap entire cities is a lot of fun, but once again a little on the simple side. Thankfully these sections don’t overstay their welcome and remain enjoyable for the entirety of the game. In fact, that can be said about pretty much everything in Destroy All Humans! At 10-12 hours long, the game feels like the perfect length for what it offers. If the game had gone any longer it would have run the risk of tedium but as it is, everything seems to be balanced perfectly. This is a game that knows what it is and is comfortable with that, never trying to add pointless quests or endless side activities to pad-out game time. That isn’t to say there aren’t side activities, but they are limited, quick and make the perfect bite-sized distraction from the main story. This is a lean mean zapping machine.
I should also mention that Destroy All Humans! is a remake of the original game from 2013 and as such there are a few legacies from that era. While the graphics have had a nice spruce up, their age is still apparent and the maps are a little simple in their design. The game also suffers from an occasionally fiddly camera, something that was pretty common when it was first released. One thing that has been improved dramatically since the original release is the control systems. I remember enjoying the original game but always having a feeling of fighting against the controller. I am pleased to say that is no longer an issue with control both intuitive and responsive. There are a few instances of targeting problems, especially when using Crypto’s telekinesis power, but that is a pretty minor quibble with the amount of action going on at any one time.
In the end, Destroy All Humans! seems like the perfect palate cleanser in between games like The Last of Us: Part 2 and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. It isn’t going to win any game of the year awards, but then again, it isn’t trying to. It is simply here to make jokes, give players a power fantasy that involves invading wise-cracking aliens and allow people to live in their favourite b-grade invasion flick. By those goals, Destroy All Humans! is a resounding success and people looking for a light-hearted bit of fun should look no further. I just hope this sells well enough to encourage THQ Nordic to develop some brand new adventures for Crypto and they don’t just have him reliving his past forever.
Destroy All Humans! was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Koch Media Australia.