IGN Review of Destroy All Humans 2
Pandemic Studios clearly took to heart all of the criticisms that were leveled at Destroy All Humans! when it sat down to make the sequel. The first in the series was a fun and light hearted game that suffered from some unappealing stealth sequences and generally middle of the road filler. With a clear emphasis on action and a developed set of side quests, Destroy All Humans! 2 succeeds in many of the places where its predecessor fell short. By making these changes, while maintaining a tongue-in-cheek attitude, Pandemic has created an enjoyable open world game that is well worth the price of admission should you be in the market for an Xbox or PS2 title.
Crypto, the main character, returns as the foul-mouthed, crude, oversexed alien bent on blowing everything up, fornicating, and taking the piss out of everyone he meets. He's an anti-hero for sure, but his charm is undeniable as his tender side comes out as you work through the game. Perhaps it's his faux Jack Nicholson voice or the way he tries to have sex with every big bosomed female in the game, but Crypto is our kind of guy. With plenty of spectacular weapons, the ability to peak into the thoughts of humans, or take on their appearance to go incognito, and a sweet jetpack, Crypto has all of the tools and attitude necessary to keep you interested.
This time around, Crypto finds himself in 1969, the decade after the original, so if you've ever wanted to pretend to be an alien killing as many hippies as you possibly can imagine, now is your chance. The free love generation is out in full force and the game doesn't let you forget it. The pop culture references come a mile a minute, even as you run down the road from one objective to the next. Hearing a British fellow cry out, "Look out, it's Charlie Watts!" as we zipped by was classic. The game pokes fun at just about everything it possibly can, including itself.
Not to give away too much of a plot spoiler, but Destroy All Humans! 2 is surprisingly light on the destruction of humans. Sure, you'll get your fill of running around killing innocent people on the side of the road or wiping out KGB agents, but much of the game actually focuses on more alien objectives than the simple conquest of earth. Although each little plot delivery is interesting and filled with jokes, the overall story isn't the most compelling we've ever seen. The plot twist that comes in the latter half of the game didn't really help to renew interest in the middling story the way you'd hope it would.
While the original Destroy All Humans had some stealth elements, they've been nearly entirely wiped out for the sequel. You can still take control of humans and use them as disguises, though the process is simple and you're much less likely to be unmasked. Rather than forcing you to take control of humans and sneak your way around, most of the missions only require you to disguise yourself momentarily either to trick other humans or gain little bits of information. Outside of that, the main focus is on killing enemies and blowing stuff up. To help you, the weapons from the original are back with some new and powerful additions. The first new weapon you get is the Dislocator, a gun that shoots purple discs that grab anything from a person to a tank and begin whipping them about in random directions. There's also a gun that can call down meteor strikes which, when fully upgraded, is quite the site. Our favorite is Gastro. This little hologram on a hover-ship zips around blasting anything that dares threaten Crypto with extreme prejudice.
The system for upgrading your weapons and equipment has also been revamped. The currency this time around is Furotech cells which can be found scattered throughout the level or be obtained as a reward for completing missions. There's a limited amount of these in the game - once you complete a side mission it is done for good. The promise of Furotech cells is a good reason to explore the side missions, though you won't ever be forced to go back and work on them to upgrade your equipment before you can progress through the main story.
One of the nicest parts of Destroy All Humans! 2 is the side quests. They feel just as fleshed out as the main story and are a far cry from simple mini games. In this case, they're known as odd jobs and you can find anywhere from one to seven of them in each of the five regions of the game. Additionally, there are the Arkvoodle cult missions, where it is your job to convince humans to begin worshipping an alien god. Some of these missions are a bit tedious, such as the one where we were required to pick up ten vans and put them on particular rooftops to convince hippies of Arkvoodle's power. Most, however, are quite fun. The odd jobs where you're required to ruin people's lives are always a good laugh and the conversations that Crypto has while trying to convince humans of Arkvoodle's power are hilarious.
Aside from the forty Furotech cells scattered throughout each region, you can also find ten alien artifacts. These hidden collectibles are your incentive to do some exploring as they'll help you upgrade your arsenal and unlock bonus movies and artwork. You'll also unlock some bonus features and powers by abducting and doing genetic experiments on humans. All told, there is a ton to do and see in the game. Trying to find and unlock everything requires an extensive time commitment.
In addition to revamping the side quests, Pandemic Studios has added a co-operative mode. The entire game can be played through on a split-screen and the second player can hop in or out of the action at any time through the pause menu. Players can work together to create twice as much destruction as before, even while inside the saucer which gains a small turret on the bottom when a second player joins the game. The addition of this co-op mode is by no means a bad thing, though it could have been implemented in a much more agreeable fashion. While playing co-op, both players have to stay quite close to each other or else one will be warped back to the other's side. That means that hopping into a game with your friend and just running around shooting things isn't going to work so well unless you enjoy disappearing and popping back in wherever your buddy happens to be. It's understandable that this was done due to limitations in the systems' power. The Xbox and PS2 just aren't powerful enough to render that much of an open city at once. Still, it isn't nearly as fun as it would be if you and a friend could just run around the city going wherever you please and wreaking serious havoc.
There are some issues with difficulty in Destroy All Humans! 2. Some of the missions are as easy as talking to one character while others require you to escort and protect an NPC through an extended gauntlet. At times, these missions get downright frustrating, except that dying seems to have almost no consequences. You'll be loaded back into the game at almost the exact spot you died in most missions, except you'll find that most of your ammunition has been restored giving you a huge advantage. Many of the more difficult missions end up being a piece of cake since you can just die and appear back in the game with a huge arsenal of weapons. Use them up, die again, and you'll be set with a new set of ammo. This doesn't happen in every quest, making the ones where death means starting completely from the beginning of the mission seem out of place and annoying. It's inconsistent and causes the difficulty in the game to vary too drastically.
The sound in Destroy All Humans! 2 is stellar. The sound effects are straight out of an old cheesy sci-fi movie and really help to add to the overall atmosphere. They're mostly clich?d, but in a game that is tongue-in-cheek from start to the finish and never stops poking fun at itself and the sci-fi movie genre, they'll most definitely have you chuckling.
The effects may be good, but the sound really shines in the voices. Crypto's Jack Nicholson inspired voice is spot on and all of the villains sound like they're out of a classic Saturday morning cartoon. The voice acting isn't just good - the entire script is. Although the slightly interactive conversations may occasionally seem to drag on a bit too long (you can skip them with the press of a button should you grow bored of listening), we found ourselves interested in seeing what the foul-mouthed Crypto had to say straight through the end of the game. There's a huge amount of recorded voice here and its all worth listening to, which is definitely saying something considering some of the painful voice acting we've heard in games through the years.
The interesting conversation is really where Destroy All Humans! 2 sets itself apart from the competition. Every quest, main or side, that we tried gave a short introduction through Crypto talking to whoever was giving the mission. These little conversations make even the more mundane side quests interesting and fun. You know that starting a mission is going to give you a bit of sick humor to get you ready to kick some serious ass.
The visuals in Destroy All Humans! 2 aren't going to win any awards, though they won't make you want to gouge your eyes out either. There's a heavy fog that never lifts obscuring everything that isn't in your immediate vicinity. This creates some nasty object pop-in as you make your way through the streets. Enemies, various humans and their vehicles, and the occasional tree or building sometimes wait until you're almost on top of them before appearing. This happens most often when you begin jetpack-jumping your way from one rooftop to the next and then quickly drop down to the ground. The engine simply can't keep up with how fast you can move.
The graphics also change in some weird ways between the game and cutscenes. Although most of the cutscenes are created using the games engine, better looking models occasionally make an appearance. Watching Natalya's hair switch styles from one cutscene to the next creates a strange disconnect which becomes even more confusing when the rare prerendered cutscene shows up and her entire appearance alters drastically. A little consistency here would have been nice.
The humans that inhabit the world are also a bit of a letdown in their visuals. It's not that they look terrible, but there is a distinct lack of variety in their appearance. When a cutscene plays and you see three of the exact same character model having a conversation with Crypto, the illusion of a real world is completely lost.
The best part about the visuals is the animations. Running on the Havok engine, you wind up with some great death throws as bodies fly about like rag dolls. Usually this sort of thing would seem a bit overdone, but it fits in this over the top world quite well. The facial animations are done extremely well with the quality voice acting matching up with the way the lips are moving. Well done.
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