The Playstation 2 really was the proving ground of gaming. It pushed boundaries and introduced many great titles that led to great things. One of the most popular and enjoyable titles on this platform was Destroy All Humans. Originally released in 2005, developed by Pandemic Studios and published by THQ, the game combined a run and gun playstyle with Cold War-era culture and a hearty helping of adult and political humour. Based on real-life events, places, and people, Destroy All Humans has a rooting in Cold War history that it uses to poke fun at the American way of life, all whilst maintaining a compelling story and satisfying gameplay. The title may sound simple, but there is a decent story within this game, which fills in gaps in real history with the fictional ventures of the Furon race. Gameplay is fun and inviting, offering a simple base level of skill for a new player, whilst having a complex enough system to keep combat entertaining.
You can pick up Destroy All Humans right now on the PlayStation store for £15.99, or around $20
Destroy All Humans follows the story of the Furons from the perspective of a clone named Cryptosporidium 137 and Orthopox, his commander of sorts. The Furons are a highly intelligent alien race that is seeking to rescue a captured Furon clone on Earth and then conquer the planet to harvest the pure Furon DNA left from a shore leave after a war with Mars. How exactly that DNA got into the gene pool, well… I'll let you figure that one out.
The story of the game is set out across various missions through fictional locale, touring parody cities based on real-life alternatives, and filling major human character roles with personable and accurate parodies of their real life counterparts. Missions are short enough to keep you entertained and involved with the objectives of the mission, meaning that you never really feel like the mission is a long and drawn out process.
Even on later missions that are longer than the ones in the early game, the story and combat are ramped up to such a degree that the options available to the player and the story objectives pushing you forward and more than enough to keep you engaged in these longer missions. Destroy All Humans has a particular knack for being able to poke fun at both pop culture of the time and the game itself. A great example is in an early level, in which we assume the identity of town mayor and blame all of the recent mysterious events on, of course, communism.
Whilst poking fun at the American Cold War way of life is clear within the game, Destroy All Humans also manages to embody that same parody. Cold War era paranoia was high, Communism was seen as a huge threat to the American way of life, and there was a distinct fear that the Soviets, often referred to as 'Illegal Aliens' or simply just 'Aliens' would invade the USA guns blazing to take control. Whilst this attitude is mirrored within the game through NPC dialogue and scenery, the game itself is a metaphor for that same sentiment. You are, quite literally, an alien that has come to the USA to overthrow their way of life.
I have personally completed Destroy All Humans about 7 times on Playstation 2, and this metaphor has only dawned on me on my first Playstation 4 playthrough. It is one of those things that comes with age and knowledge of the world, and it is these small nuances that really make the game stand out in the overpopulated shooter genre.
Weapon selection is diverse within Destroy All Humans. We can break down the weaponry available to you in the game through three categories: Handheld, UFO Arms, and PSI abilities.
Handheld weapons offer a portable combat option to any Furon foot soldier. From a gun that disintegrates enemies into a pile of ash to the aptly named Anal Probe, there is something for everyone here. Combat with these weapons is fun and inviting, with very little skill curve, allowing a new or seasoned player to pick up the controller and utilize the weaponry in their hands to great effect.
UFO Arms are weapons that are mounted to your own personal flying saucer, and have options such as the typical 'Death Ray' to an Abduction Beam and even weaponized sound waves. UFO Combat, although sometimes less practical than boots on the ground, is enjoyable nonetheless. Movement in your flying saucer is smooth like butter, allowing for a seamless motion to avoid anti-air missiles whilst wiping out an entire police force, and the weapons at your disposal mean you are never lost for ways to engage a situation. Landing your flying saucer can be a pain at times, as you have to find designating landing pads, but it really isn't too much of a hassle after a while.
PSI abilities are the thinking man's weapons in this game, allowing you to take the appearance of a human, move things around with your telekinesis abilities, and even send humans to sleep with brain signals. PSI abilities are managed through a concentration meter which is refilled by reading the brain of humans, a mechanic that exposes you to many of the hilarious lines of dialogue within this game.
All of these weapons offer a great variety of ways to approach each and every mission. You can go in on foot guns blazing, wage war from the skies in your UFO in to destroy whatever is in your way, or mimic a human with your Holobob ability and use the power of hypnosis to bend the will of your targets. You are also offered a Jetpack as a means for faster travel. This jetpack can be upgraded for long boost distance, more powerful thrusters etc, and can be quite helpful for escapes from more fearsome enemies in the later game.
This variety of abilities really adds a lot of replay value to the game, and you never really feel bored of using any of them, at least in my experience. The possibilities for the different type of playthroughs are deep and inviting, offering many options for players that wish to challenge themselves.
As you progress through the game, your commander Pox will also research abilities for you, allowing you to upgrade your weapons, from your crude zap-o-matic all the way to your UFO mounted Quantum Deconstructor, which is exactly as cool as it sounds.
Audio & Visuals
Audio & Visuals are always a big part of video games. I remember that even on the PlayStation 2, playing on an old box television, Destroy All Humans was one of the better-looking games on that platform. Now that it has made its way over to the PlayStation 4, it still stands out as one of the best looking PlayStation 2 titles available. Graphics are bold and clear, offering a colourful palette within the game's technology and locales, whilst also not being bogged down by the strange PlayStation 2 visual fuzz that seemed to happen a lot on the original console.
Audio in Destroy All Humans is surprisingly good. Music consists mostly of orchestral themes that mimic such epics as Ride of the Valkyries. A musical score can make or break a game, and Destroy All Humans uses theirs to great effect, ensuring the music reaches its most intense points in some of the most important or indeed chaotic mission moments. When you're flying around in your saucer with the intent of wiping out an entire military battalion, you can be sure that the epic orchestral score will be backing you up. Outside of music, voice acting is clear and convincing, with each spoken sentence having a clear character and tone, whilst also being surprisingly clear of any sort of strange artifacting.
Easter Eggs, secret content and the sort are a huge part of gaming nowadays, popularized by games such as Grand Theft Auto V and the Call of Duty Zombies easter eggs, notorious for being difficult to solve, but rewarding at the same time. This concept wasn't really a big thing back in the golden days of the Playstation 2. However, Destroy All Humans offers an alternative to blasting your way across the United States. Back at your mothership, you will find an option to view your 'Archive', which offers a wealth of material including the expected statistics and cutscenes, to a B-Movie theater which allows you to watch black and white movies from the 1950's era and, you guessed it, they're about aliens.
The game also offers side mission for extra DNA, the currency used for upgrading your character within the game. These can really help you to get the next upgrade for your handheld weapon of choice if you're struggling with the next mission. There are also collectables in the game which offer DNA for collection, some completionist content for those shooting for the 100% completion mark.
UFO Combat is smooth and entertaining
However, this game does indeed have a few glitches. The problem with PlayStation 4 ports of PlayStation 2 games is that they are exactly as the name says: ports. As opposed to remasters, ports of PS2 games have no support from the developer and no changes from the original game meaning that, whilst the nostalgic graphics and PS2 control schemes remain the same, glitches also remain, and may even be created by the porting process.
I have personally encountered three glitches so far in my PlayStation 4 playthrough of Destroy All Humans. The first is very minor. At the end of each mission, you are presented with a newspaper headline that highlights the events of the mission you just played. When these show up on the screen, there is quite often flickering in the background between what the game world is currently displaying, and a black screen. Whilst this is only in the background, it can be mildly irritating for someone who is bothered by visual glitches, however, I wouldn't say this is really a problem.
There is another glitch I've encountered however that does cause some issues. This is again a visual glitch, but it happens during missions. The player character has a green health bar in the top right, that is depleted when his shield is drained. If your health is drained during a mission, a common glitch occurs where the green health bar will glitch between the state that your current health is at, and full. This can be quite misleading in making players, at a glance, think that they are full health when realistically they are extremely low health.
The final glitch I have encountered is a simple one, perhaps even a funny one to those so inclined. It seems that very occasionally, NPC's will be spawned inside in-game interiors not available to the player character, making them stand around aimlessly whilst bobbing up and down incessantly, stuck in a loop of falling and being caught by the floor of the map. Nothing major and quite rare to see, but never a problem when it does show up.
There are some other glitches regarding NPC pathfinding in certain areas of the game, but I'd say these are part and parcel of free-roaming games. Whilst they can be an annoyance, it is something that still occurs to this day in large AAA titles, and these glitches usually occur with objects within the game, most of which you can actually move with your telekinesis ability. so I think I can personally give Destroy All Humans a pass for these sorts of glitches.
Whilst you can't really expect developers to maintain games that released over 10 years ago on a platform where patches weren't as important as they are now, there should be, in my opinion, some sort of responsibility by whoever ported the game over to the Playstation 4 to fix glitches that could hinder the player's experience. This glitch with the health bar is one of those cases in my opinion, and could produce some annoying situations for new players that are not aware of this glitch, and thus only occasionally glance at the health bar.
The glitches I've experienced so far, though, as a returning player, are minor. Gameplay is still fun and interesting, with a slowly developing story and combat that rewards both new and seasoned players, and the few small glitches that seem to have occurred in the porting process do nothing to minimize the fun of the game.
From crude humour to engaging combat and a gripping story laced with satire and social commentary, there is a little something here for everyone. Whilst I wouldn't recommend this game for children, namely due to the high prevalence of adult humour and well, anal probing, it is definitely a game that will appeal to a lot of people out there.
Whilst I personally think that the £15.99 price point is too high for a game that released in 2005, two console generations ago, I paid it because I knew exactly what I was getting into, and I knew that a great game lay ahead of me. If you are a first-time buyer of Destroy All Humans, though, I would recommend definitely finding out as much as possible about the game before purchasing it because, although it is one of my personal favourite games, you may not enjoy it as much as I did.
If you enjoy the mix of multi-layered humour with consistently entertaining combat driven by a compelling underlying story, then this game will almost definitely tickle your fancy and is a great purchase if you never had the chance to play it the first time around on the PlayStation 2.
|+ Multi-layered humour targetted at many audiences||– Some visual glitches|
|+ Welcoming gameplay for new and returning players||– £15.99 price point is a tad high|
|+ Satisfying sound and graphic design|
|+ Compelling story|