The great galactic Furon Empire is about to implode. Countless centuries of cloning clones has led to a diminished stockpile of pure DNA from which Furons can duplicate themselves to effectively remain immortal. New copies of older copies have become so genetically smudged that they're hardly even Furon at all. This is kind of a serious problem seeing as how Furons have no genitalia to propagate the old-fashioned way. Too much TV, we suppose.
With special orders from the Furon Emperor, Orthopox the scientist and his gun-toting lackey Cryptosporidium (a diarrhea-making stomach parasite in plain English) are sent to harvest human brain matter for the precious dormant Furon DNA it contains. If successful, the Empire will thrive. If unsuccessful, all Furons will be scientifically boned.
The mission seems to be going well enough until Crypto lands his space vessel on a nuclear missile. Score one for humanity.
Not an emperor to take a botched reconnaissance op lying down, the most exulted Furon commander orders Orthopox and a newly generated Cryptosporidium clone to complete the original atomic failure's assignment. And if there's time we suppose they could also rescue the first Crypto, assuming he's not currently tumbling through Earth's atmosphere experiencing life as a swirling cloud of half vaporized irradiated dust mites... But whatever.
And so a shiny new Crypto hops in his ultra powerful flying saucer and makes first contact with an American cow. Shortly after torturing the mooing bovine to death with a certified Zap-O-Matic lightning gun and tossing its large unwieldy corpse through the air with the telekinetic grace of a Furon warrior, he begins contemptuously slaughtering stereotypical 1950s Americans in a variety of backwater towns. Eventually this path of hillbilly destruction leads Crypto to a confrontation on the steps of Congress with the United States government and the secret society that pulls its strings.
The game, despite its storyline, does not actually require much DNA harvesting at all. It does funnel Crypto, however, through some conceptually exciting missions that propose a smooth combination of overhead shooting, third-person on-foot action, and primitive bits of stealth. Unfortunately, each of these three major components of Destroy All Humans suffers from enough shortcomings and obviously generic play mechanics that gamers will be left wanting and wondering. But, the game is still competently delivered and with enough style that we can't help but be earnestly satisfied by having completed it.
Destroy All Humans features six major environments; each is accessible via the game's central mothership hub. Within the environments there exists a small handful of plot progressing missions, an arbitrary amount of hidden probes that unlock extras when found, and a good number of ultimately worthless mini-games. The latter always involve collecting 15 brains in two minutes, destroying this many number of cows within that many number of seconds, or racing through Y amount of checkpoints before Z amount of time expires. Blargh to that, man!
The purpose of these miniature missions -- aside from fulfilling the useless filler quota all free-roaming titles are apparently obligated to meet -- is to give Crypto extra DNA so that he can purchase upgrades his buddy Orthopox occasionally makes. These power-ups enhance abilities he has already earned to make the already good shooting better.
From a gameplay standpoint you'll want to acquire as much DNA as possible and as quickly as possible so that you can grab useful upgrades and get on with the real missions. To do this, we recommend visiting the Rockwell area and participating in the BBQ mini-game that urges Crypto to kill X amount of cows in 30 seconds or less, where X eventually becomes a number as high as 20. All you have to do there is equip the disintegrator weapon and follow a specific line into the nearest cow field. Then it's possible to shoot blindly at the horizon and hit twenty cows without a problem. Presto! Instant 300 DNA. Repeat that until you have 20,000 DNA and then buy whatever the heck you want.
That little exploit demonstrates how poorly realized Destroy All Humans' DNA for cash system is and how, by participating in less than enjoyable mini-games, a player can totally negate the purpose of personal DNA extractions and just wallow in the miserable nature of cow disintegration, which in turn diminishes the appeal of Destroy All Humans' more open world: What's the point of traveling around if it's better for me to just shoot these cows anyway?
WATCH THE VIDEO REVIEW That sort of pointless and constant DNA accumulation actually becomes necessary once Crypto approaches the Capitol City finale, too.
Specifically, the last four levels in the game's equivalent of Washington D.C. are hard enough to require some serious upgrades. At that point Crypto can't even be bothered with extracting DNA from regular humans because the processes to remove brains are too ineffective, especially when Crypto is pitted against the tough swarms of super-powered foes that attack with devastating tanks and troublesome Tesla coils. So yeah, toward the end we're actually forced to do the lame cow thing. Ouch.
Even if Crypto isn't capable of plausibly extracting DNA from the hapless populace of Earth as the game implies he should be, he's at least provided with a robust assortment of weapons to kill, kill, kill.
Flying saucer? Check. Saucer Death Ray? Check. Saucer Tractor Beam? Check. Saucer Sonic Boom? Check. Saucer Quantum Pulse Green Plasma Thing? Check. Electrifying Zap-O-Matic? Check. Particle dispersing Disintegrator Ray? Check. Blast area disrupting Ion Detonator? Check. Psychokinesis? Check. Let's rock it!
Each of Crypto's extraterrestrial abilities plays a distinct role in the game's major shooting and stealth sections, but then each is also limited in some serious way or another.
Saucer flight, for instance, is limited to a single plane and focuses on top-down shooting. Switching to predetermined high, medium and low planes on-the-fly would have been nice, as would a better horizon line and the ability to combine the tractor beam with other weapons. Perhaps the most distressing aspect of that gameplay type is how landing is only possible at very specific points. The weapons, also, range in power but then have such readily available ammunition packs that it's not necessary to switch back to the weaker mainstays.
On-foot, the Zap-O-Matic, which can eventually be upgraded to chain across four different people, is great for disabling foes and leaving their brains intact for extraction. Then again, we've established that it's unnecessary and actually impossible later on since ripping the gushy goods out of heads takes an extra few seconds and the payoff isn't really worth the exposed risk.
Now, the disintegrator ray can be upgraded to a triple shot and is extremely effective at taking down foot soldiers and even light armor (cars, trucks, etcetera). The Ion Detonator is the grenade of the bunch and obliterates tanks and heavier vehicles. The Anal Probe serves as a charge weapon that instantly extracts brains from weaker foes. And, the telekinetic powers give Crypto an edge against the nefarious Majestic Men in Black that can see through his holographic disguises.
In spite of being fully capable of obliterating the enemy in what is easily the game's most enjoyable component (the straight destroy everything but the trees combat), Crypto is periodically required to assume the form of a human and navigate the game world incognito. These missions are almost always instant death "trial and error" stealth missions. If Crypto has the unfortunate luck to accidentally stumble upon one of the game's bastardly Men in Black, his disguise will be blown and so will the mission. Do over time!
To avoid these well dressed jerks, Crypto must use his telekinetic powers to grab and toss them far into the horizon, which of course doesn't attract any attention at all. It's that or hypnotizing the government funded alien police into deep sleeps or distraction routines. Either move further depletes a concentration reserve that's already working to power Crypto's holographic disguise. Thus, our little grey boy will have to constantly scan bystanders for extra power to keep his false identity up. This juggling act can get a bit tedious in some of the later levels where it's super easy to walk right into a Majestic lawn party. It doesn't help that the lock-on targeting system behind all the Psychokinesis is so imprecise you'll actually be staring at someone five feet away and targeting something 90 degrees to your right.
Okay. Look. The idea of assuming human form and causing havoc is a great one and it's especially entertaining when Crypto is allowed to participate in one of the game's extremely rare interactive conversations (such as when he becomes the Naval "Warlord" or the town mayor). Other than those instances, however, stealth comes off as an extraneous addition to break up action that's actually pretty damn good. In a game with such a terrific sense of atmosphere and such well-rounded third-person shooting, why implement instant death stealth elements that abruptly halt the play? Why do that? As it happens, not developing stealth to its fullest potential turns out to be one part of a greater underlying problem with Destroy All Humans: Missed opportunity.
We could have been assuming the forms of citizens and doing crazy things in their stead. We could have possessed a secretary and then embarrassed a senator with some under the table shenanigans. Maybe we could have even become Joe Beaver and lit the local police station on fire. Instead, we wander around scanning civilians for energy while praying not to run into a cleverly hidden mine, or some patrolling Man in Black that will trigger an instant death scenario. Again, blargh to that!
The generally smooth combat also suffers from too little imagination. There's this great central character, a wonderfully lighthearted 50s environment and some fantastic destruction, but then we're given a totally basic set of weapons and powers. Where are the Enlarge-O-Rays that make people 50 feet tall and very confused? Where are the De-Evolution Blasters that turn people into angry monkeys with clothes on? How about the Infect-O-Spore that transforms folks into brain harvesting zombies? Or maybe the Displace-Tron, a gun that swaps a person's body parts with another person's in no particular order? There are literally a hundred and one million different interesting weapons and tools a comical alien could have used to destroy all the humans, but Crypto picked up the damned grenade launcher.
That sort of uninspired design carries over to missions that sound wonderful in premise, but ultimately involve combinations of sloppy stealth, solid shooting and the otherwise basic run-of-the-mill mini-games that Destroy All Humans could have really done without.
Know that despite these problems, Destroy All Humans still offers some very enjoyable third-person action. A technically sound engine with sporadic draw-in delivers a shooting experience with tight dual analog control (the lock-on not withstanding), excellent explosive effects, and one of the more intuitive telekinesis systems in gaming. Though, what excites us most is definitely the game's personality.
Crypto and Orthopox are likeable characters that do absurd things. They're always saying something crazy and interacting with people that act even wackier. Crypto's ability to look into the minds of men is entertaining only because the developers at Pandemic have taken it upon themselves to record an astonishing amount of voice to highlight the many dark secrets a 50s man might be thinking. While these comedic lines sometimes repeat, they help Destroy All Humans create and maintain a rather believable universe. That's good. Me getting exposed by some lame dude and having to restart a mission is not.
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