Developer: Pandemic Studios
Release Date: June 17, 2005
Destroy All Humans! is a game in which we take the role of a homicidal alien from the Furon Empire (voiced by a man who's trying wicked hard to sound like Jack Nicholson but ends up being very annoying indeed). We are given orders by a superior alien voiced by Richard Horvitz, the same person who did the voice of Zim from Jhonen Vasquez's brilliant cartoon, Invader Zim. Incidentally, Richard's rendition of his character from Destroy All Humans! sounds almost exactly like Zim. Keep this fact in mind, as it will become relevant later.
Although the game does have an obligatory story, the main goal … should already be hideously apparent to you.
We control our character in third-person view using the usual dual thumbstick method of moving and positioning the camera. Use the left trigger button to target objects and creatures, and from there, use a variety of psychic powers ranging from telekinesis to mind control. We, of course, also have access to a small arsenal of more standard weapons.
This is neglecting to mention the parts of the game in which we unleash wanton destruction from a flying saucer. There isn't much to mention, though; you have bigger weapons, and that equals more destruction. The parts of the game that take place on the flying saucer tend to be a little more fun than those that take place on foot.
We can buy upgrades for our flying saucer, psychic powers and our personal weapons using DNA we collect from human brain stems, and various other methods, such as sub-missions that tend to have inane and very repetitive goals.
While on the topic of repetition, it should be noted that this game fails in many ways because it is so repetitious. Most of the missions tend to play out the same way: use a psychic power to disguise ourselves as a human, sneak somewhere, reveal our true form, and then destroy some things. This is fun for the first few missions, but it quickly becomes soul-numbingly boring.
We can also go back to old stages whose missions we've already completed. There isn't any real point in doing this except to collect some extra DNA, and to … destroy … things. The more we destroy, the more attention we garner, which, in turn, causes more powerful enemies to come after us. This system works exactly like in the Grand Theft Auto series, which is a good thing. However, while running around a city in Grand Theft Auto can prove to be infinitely entertaining if we're in the mood, destroying a town in Destroy All Humans! is fun for two to three minutes, tops. It's only fun for such a short amount of time because the missions have us doing the same thing. Destroying.
Also! Being a young man who likes himself a good instruction manual, it pains me to say that Destroy All Humans! has a very boring manual. Just sayin'.
This game would've been great if it had a War of the Monsters-style deathmatch mode. Instead, there is no multiplayer. Why, exactly, a game like this doesn't have a multiplayer mode defies all logic. Perhaps it is due to the graphical limitations of the title, but one can only speculate.
The graphics are good, don't get me wrong. Everything looks very good, and our flying saucer is very shiny, but there is quite a lot of pop-up, which is inexcusable. I mean, I had seriously forgotten that pop-up even existed. Running through a level that you previously thought was devoid of danger, only to have two angry police officers appear in front of you with badges glistening and guns brandished, is wildly inconvenient. Seeing this startled me so much I almost called Microsoft tech support to make sure nothing was wrong with my Xbox! I didn't, however!!
The fact that Destroy All Humans! tries to be funny and quirky only makes it worse. One of the psychic powers we have at our disposal is the ability to scan the surface thoughts of humans. The dialogue is plentiful for each person, and yet none of it made me laugh. The dialogue consists mainly of redneck jokes and thinly veiled commentary on the socio-political climate of McCarthy-era America. The conversations between the main character and his superior, tends to sound like a cheap imitation of an Invader Zim episode.
The music – a boring affair that drones on in the background – somehow accomplishes the amazing goal of registering on the central nervous system to such a small degree that it remains virtually unnoticed.
This isn't like War of the Monsters, a game that distilled its influence to make something original. The fondness the developers of that game exhibit for the source material is apparent, especially when they infused the themes with their own ideas.
Conversely, Destroy All Humans! seems to content itself by saying, " People used to make these really bad science fiction movies, and now we're going to make fun of them and steal their ideas, but we're going to make a video game out of it instead!" Everything in the game pays unbridled homage to something else; it's like a digital scrapbook filled with the cut-and-pasted ideas of every bad science fiction movie that came out in the '40s and '50s, but there is no original "spin" to be found here.
From a gameplay perspective, Destroy All Humans! is purely inoffensive and average; it proves itself to be somewhat entertaining in small doses. In all other aspects, the game lacks a soul of its own, choosing instead to use what others have already done. A game like this could be good if it relied less on imitating its influences and more on its own originality.
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