Destroy All Humans!
Third Person Shooter/Probing Simulator
I’ve been playing video games since I was about seven, and while I’ve always played games a lot I didn’t use to play many games. With not much money to spend on games when I was younger I ended up playing the games I did have over and over, and while I’m not complaining about that the fact remains that I didn’t play a lot of games that are considered classics to one extent or another. As such, getting the new remake of Destroy All Humans seemed like a great chance for me to fill in one of the gaps in that experience.
The thing is, “classics” can often show their age in many respects, and Destroy All Humans is no exception. The game follows a space alien invading 1950s America during the height of the Red Scare, a time when all manner of bigotry and backward thinking was even more prominently rampant than it is in the modern U.S. As such the dialogue frequently makes fun of these mindsets as well as the hyper-nationalism and jingoism of the era, most of which I enjoyed. But the original Destroy All Humans was released in 2005, and as a title card at the beginning of the game says: “…the content and historical record of the original invasion of the Furons remains a near-identical clone! The story, words, and images contained within may be shocking to the modern human brain!”
Though this message could be slightly more clear if it were not cleaving so closely to the game’s cheesy 50s alien flick aesthetic, I appreciate the acknowledgment that some of the writing may not have aged well in the past 15 years. I did indeed find some of the jokes to be slightly off-color, especially if the joke was the fact of someone being gay rather homophobia or if it was making light of police brutality.
Still, the writing was for the most part enjoyable. Mockeries of McCarthyism and American Exceptionalism are always welcome, and some of the gags relating to those made me genuinely laugh out loud. I also really appreciated the way the game as a whole matches the aesthetics and tone of cheesy 50s sci-fi flicks while adding its own modern twists. On the other hand, some of the jokes come in the form of voice lines randomly repeated by NPCs, which can get old quickly when you hear “Hairless Space Hamsters!” fifteen times in two minutes while you’re just trying to explore. Though not enough to throw me off the experience entirely, stuff like that just *grates*.
The gameplay at least holds up much better. The mechanics of disintegrating things and probing pathetic earthlings aren’t especially complex or interesting – certainly not by today’s standards – but they’re still fun in a very visceral, simple-pleasures way, and it doesn’t suffer from lack of content. Not everything needs to be a deep RPG system with twenty different stats to keep track of, and I’m glad Destroy All Humans seems to have stuck to its guns aside from the engine and graphical enhancements. I took slight issue with the controls for the flying saucer (it didn’t handle great) and the way ragdolls and objects would sometimes get stuck on the environment while trying to move them under a time limit, but again it wasn’t something that completely ruined the experience for me.
I don’t know if Destroy All Humans was a masterpiece back in 2005 and it definitely isn’t now, but as I’m fond of saying not every game needs to be because sometimes it’s enough to abduct a couple of cows and set some houses on fire. If you can deal with some slightly politically incorrect humor and underwhelming sound design, there’s still a lot of fun to be had with this title, whether you’re an old fan or coming at it for the first time.
Destroy All Humans
Despite some poorly aged writing and gameplay, you'll probe-ably have a good time playing this.