Few games let you make peopleâ€™s heads explode by firing a green anal probe at them. Destroy All Humans! isnâ€™t like most games because instead of playing a patriotic anti-hero / one-man army you play as the invasion forceâ€”the aliens. Few games allow you to pick up cars from a flying saucer, swing them around and smash buildings. Few games let you pick up and hurl cows at unsuspecting farmers, using nothing more than your mental powers. Destroy All Humans! isnâ€™t perfect, but itâ€™s a fun game to play on days when youâ€™re waiting for the clouds to go away and the sun to come out.
You play as Cryptosporidium, who serves as the right hand of the supreme alien leader Orthopox. At some point the aliens notice the green planet that goes by the silly name of Earth and its resources, which should be liberated from the pathetic carbon-based creatures as soon as possible. Though your technology is far superior to the Earthlings, youâ€™re somewhat limited in number, so itâ€™ll take time and cunning to accomplish your master plan. The game is split into a number of locations that you visit to accomplish certain objectives. Early in the game, you know very little about the humans, such as how they think, what their ambitions are, and so forth. You begin by landing your UFO at some remote location, teleporting to the ground, and finally start exploring your surroundings.
Though your abilities are limited at first, youâ€™ll be able to do some pretty nifty things. If your main objective is to read the thoughts of some important person, youâ€™ll first have to reach him or her. Humans may be pathetic by alien standards, but they will surely scream and run for help if they see a weird creature running around with a ray-gun. By sneaking fairly close to a target and pressing the B button, you transform into a holographic copy of that person. This is extremely useful in that it lets you run around much more freely, but with a few limitations. For starters you canâ€™t use most of your abilities in this form, and it also drains on your brain meter (read mana), but by reading peopleâ€™s thoughts you fill it up a bit. This meter also replenishes itself when youâ€™re in your natural form, just like your shield. If you take too much damage, the shield wonâ€™t be able to protect you, meaning you have to get away very quickly to avoid certain death. To get away you would probably use the jet pack you carry around. By pressing the jump button twice, you take off into the air and fly a limited distance. Let me tell you that thereâ€™s nothing like sailing from one rooftop to the next while farmers are running after you with their shotguns, the police are calling for backup, and the army is rolling in with tanks.
One of the things that will keep you playing Destroy All Humans! is the numerous power-ups that you can acquire. Some weapons are unlocked to you as you progress through the storyline, but many upgrades can be purchased that will improve your personal weapons, the UFO you fly around in, and whatever gadgets you use. To get these upgrades you have to harvest human DNA, which can be done by collecting brains. After youâ€™ve zapped someone to death, you can press the left trigger to select him or her. From here you can use PK to pick up, move and throw the poor victim, or press B to extract the brain. The means by which you extract the brain will determine the number of DNA itâ€™s worth. For maximum yield you have to use methods that are more expensive in terms of brainpower (mana), and may also make you easier to spot by nearby peons.
Playing Destroy All Humans certainly makes you feel powerful, but Iâ€™d say itâ€™s the comedy and bizarre events that make the game truly fun. The voice talents do an excellent job, making the aliens sound exactly as arrogant as they should, the farmers are stupid as youâ€™d expect, and the blonde bombshells as blonde as you could hope. J. Grant Albrecht and Richard Steven Horvitz voiced the two main characters, both of which deserve praise for their work. Youâ€™ve probably already heard these two in Everquest 2, Doom 3 and its expansion, and various other recent releases.
In terms of music, youâ€™ll find just about the kind of music youâ€™d expect from a sci-fi b-movieâ€”nothing more and nothing less. The selection isnâ€™t spectacular, but it serves its purpose without a doubt.
The graphical presentation is also quite convincing. Most of the gameplay takes place in relatively small towns, but itâ€™s detailed enough to seem believable, and most importantly thereâ€™s plenty of stuff you blow up with your death ray! Youâ€™re not running around in ghost towns though, so expect people to be walking and cars to be driving around pretty much everywhere. The police are also easily found, so it takes a bit of timing when youâ€™re thinking about switching to your natural form. Character models are somewhat varied in size and shape. Theyâ€™re also well animated, for instance, when you use the before mentioned anal probe. Texturing is colorful and bright. Dynamic shadows are applied to various things, and just about everything has been sufficiently polished to leave out any obvious blemishes.
So whatâ€™s wrong with this game then? The main problem is just that there shouldâ€™ve been more of a lot of things. Comparisons can be made to Grand Theft Auto in that both simulate towns or cities, and youâ€™re allowed to do just about anything you want. One improvement would be if players could interact more with the environment using common things to wreck havoc in creative and funny ways. Unlike GTA, however, is that here the objectives usually take place in a limited area, even though the entire town may be much larger. Itâ€™s also not great that the pesky humans respawn as frequently as they do. Also, a multiplayer mode couldâ€™ve been outrageously fun, but thereâ€™s no such thing in this game, and thatâ€™s a shame.
In my considerable gaming experience, Iâ€™ve played a good number of games that couldâ€™ve been great, and this is yet another one of those. Itâ€™s an interesting and fun game in many ways, and Iâ€™m sure itâ€™ll find many owners happy to have it in their collection. I love the idea of playing alien invaders, and the developers implemented much more than I expected to see in a game like this, but I feel they couldâ€™ve gone further and done more.