Destroy All Humans!|
By: Matt C. on July 15, 2005
In most games, you try and save the world, but in Destroy All Humans!, your job as a little grey alien (named Crypto) is to conquer it. Although Hollywood movies has taught us that aliens like to attack Earth in massive quantities, the only backup you'll get is from Pox, who is Crypto's boss. The presentation in Destroy All Humans! is very good, with an interesting 1950s movie setting complete with silly dialogue. And despite their violent nature, Crypto and Pox are a likable duo. Destroy All Humans! has many of the right ingredients for an instant classic, but it still manages to fall a little short in some areas.
Destroy All Humans! gameplay is a mixture of Jak 3 and Ratchet and Clank, with a dash of Grand Theft Auto. You move in a 3rd person view with the left analog stick for movement control and the right analog stick for aiming purposes. You can jump using X or double tap the X button to jump and use your jet pack to reach higher places. R1 is used to fire your weapon, which can be changed at any time using R2. And when you hop into your flying saucer, the controls are pretty straightforward and easy. Nothing out of the ordinary.
What makes Destroy All Humans! so fun and interesting are the various alien abilities that Crypto can use. Perhaps the ability that people will enjoy the most is Psychokinesis Mode. By using his psychic energy, Crypto can lift just about any object with his mind that isn't bolted down to the ground, including cars, trucks, people, tanks, robots and more. Once you have an object in your control, you can move it around with the right analog stick and hurl it into other objects or walls, or throw it across the map never to be seen again.
The Psychoiknesis feature has been exactly the same way in at least one other PlayStation 2 title (see Psi-Ops: The Mind Gate Conspiracy) but it is still very fun and very useful in the game. Other alien mind tricks you can use are the ability to read anyone's mind, hypnotize people into carrying out specific commands, and being able to extract DNA from people's brain stems (which can be traded in for various upgrades). One last crucial ability allows you to instantly disguise yourself as a human. This is very important during some of the game's stealth missions or if you simply want to complete an objective without attracting too much attention from the U.S. military.
Speaking of attracting military attention, Destroy All Humans has an alert system similar to Grand Theft Auto -- the more time you spend out in the open causing trouble, the tougher your enemies become. However, even when you reach the highest alert stage, the game never becomes overly difficult because enemy fire can usually be dodged if you just keep moving, and Crypto has a shield around his body that recharges automatically if you don't get hit after a certain amount of time.
Crypto has four weapons at his disposal when he is on foot. Only two of them (the Disintegrator Ray and Ion Detonator) are really useful in combat. The other two (Zap-O-Matic and Anal Probe) are only useful if you're out of ammo or need to collect human DNA. I just wish there were more weapons, because what we have here is a bit limited. When you are in your flying saucer, you only have four weapons available as well. This includes a death ray and other weapons which can level buildings and tanks very quickly. One cool saucer weapon is the Abducto Beam, which can pick up objects and throw them into the ocean or into buildings.
Destroy All Humans! has a lot going for it, but the gameplay does wear thin rather quickly. There are six very large locales (such as Washington D.C. and Area 51 copycats) within the game and each one has entertaining story missions. One mission could have you destroying everything in sight, while another might be more of a low-key stealth mission. Or you could have both elements in one mission. Sadly, it doesn't take very long before the gameplay variety dies. Luckily, you'll still want to continue to play through the game due to the interesting plot and to see other upgrades and levels you can unlock. It's just too bad each story mission must be beaten in a certain order (you can't choose the order that you play them) which makes things feel very linear. It probably doesn't matter though because the game ends far too quickly.
I like how you can explore/destroy each level on your own in between missions, but you can only do that for so long before getting bored. Even the optional missions are a disappointment because they all have very, very similar objectives. One has you destroying a set amount of taxis within a certain amount of time, while another has you doing the same thing, except replace taxis with cows. The only real reason to play through these optional side-missions is to collect DNA for weapon and player upgrades.
Destroy All Humans! is a very nice looking game. It has a nice cartoonish look to it, but you won't see any crazy animations or anything, so it's not overdone. Levels are well designed and buildings and objects usually have plenty of detail on them. The only real problems that stuck out were occasional pop-up issues (objects suddenly appearing in view) and very noticeable slowdown during intense battles. Fortunately, it's not a huge problem and the game is still very playable.
Despite the shortcomings in mission variety and the replay value department, I still found Destroy All Humans! to be very good game. The story and characters are likable, the presentation is excellent, and the controls are dead-on. I just wish that the game had more to it. More weapons, more missions with more interesting objectives would have been nice. Nonetheless, the whole Ratchet and Clank meets Grand Theft Auto concept works well, so Destroy All Humans! is definitely worth checking out.