- Developer: Black Forest Games
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Genre: Adventure, Action
- Released: 29th June 2021
Yeah, this is quite the time capsule of a bygone era of gaming.
We come in peace…
Destroy All Humans! was a game for the PS2 and Xbox way back in 2005. What I was not aware of was the fact this is actually the first game in the Destroy All Humans! series, spanning titles made for the PS2 to the Wii and Xbox 360.
The 2020 entry is the first game in the series since 2008 for all consoles (‘cept one) and PC, and finally in 2021 it hit the Switch. 18 years dormant, what does the newly resurrected Destroy All Humans! remake have to show for itself after all this time?
The game’s story takes place in the 1950s in America, post World War 2. Around this time, America herself experienced a variety of incidents; from increasing economic strength and a baby boom, to the rise of the civil rights movements. What the game’s story revolves around however is the beginnings of the Cold War and the Red Scare within American society.
The game begins showing you a disc-shape spacecraft crashing down in the desert. An alien figure steps out looking worst for the wear. It collapses and the American soldiers who were present at the crash site move in to take custody of this extraterrestrial being.
That’s where you come in, tasked with the mission to search and rescue your wayward companion. Along with this is a greater mission to solve the issue of declining quality of genetic material in the latter generation of clones, of which you are part of. It all has a feel of a cheesy alien movie; I mean if you’ve seen Mars Attacks!, you’ll know exactly the kind of story to expect from this title.
The game’s plot overall is simple and silly. Many of the humans shown in the game exemplify gross exaggerations of American stereotypes; patriotic tendencies bordering on rabid nationalism, a complete rejection of ‘communism’ as a buzzword without actual meaning, blind consumerism… basically the developers made it very easy to not sympathise with either the aliens or humans through purposefully unpleasant caricatures used for character models (and oftentimes personalities), or gross puerile humour that falls flat on its proverbial rump.
One aspect I do enjoy of the story however is viewing the various news articles the news they have to churn out to placate the unassuming public, summarizing the events that occurs in your missions with alternate facts, successfully completed or otherwise. The creativeness behind these headlines are quite astounding, and can be seen to be a harbinger for the myriad amounts of myopic journalism observed in ever increasing numbers of late.
Santa, I wanna destroy
When you’re not viewing the game’s pantomime of a story, you’ll be tasked with well, destroying everything. At the appropriate juncture. In the fullness of time.
Often your superior will set other forms of task to yourself, tasks that include infiltration or stealth, and escort missions. The stealth variety are fortunately somewhat fun thanks to the game’s toolkit at hand for espionage. You can phase out a target and don its likeness as you sneak your way to your target, taking care to avoid detectors that can spot you through your disguise. While undercover, you can pull off some nifty distractions to clear the path ahead of you. Knowing when to drop your disguise is also key as you only have access to your jetpack in your alien form, and vertical movement is always appreciated when trying to scout out areas.
Escort missions remain a bane on video games, and the ones in this game are no exception. The fragility of your escort targets and the inability to restore their health means your sanity may be at stake as you go through such missions. Thankfully there are only a few of these, but their presence is still a blight to behold.
Gears of war
Getting down to the meat of the game, I would say it’s a relatively zen experience mowing down enemies and buildings. You have two modes of destruction at hand to you: on foot, and in your spacecraft of doom. In both modes, there are a handful of weapons available to swap out to play with, and they wreck havoc quite well; especially when upgraded significantly.
Yes, the game has an upgrade system for weapons and other skills you have. Obtain resources by finding collectibles, harvesting the brains of your enemies, and completing missions and bonus objectives; all in order to spend improving your arsenal of carnage, as well as your defenses too. It’s not that deep a system, and the weapon variety a little lacking since there are so few of them. What is at hand however is enough to have a good time, even if things do get a bit monotonous as the novelty of your rather small inventory of death wears off.
Last call for orders
Visually, the game isn’t that great of a looker. Poor textures or slightly blurry visuals is one thing, very used to these playing on cheaper PCs and on the Switch. But the art direction is another thing altogether. Muddy colours and unappealing design choices firmly dates this title as part of the 2000s era shooters. As for music, you know I don’t recall much being played? Maybe for ambience, but I really cannot recall any musical composition from this game, apart from the credits maybe and I’ve already forgotten what it sounded like. Sound effects are used well though, giving the effect that you truly are bringing Armageddon into the Americas.
Loading times are frequent, but they are of the right length I found, if that makes any sense? Long enough to have you catch your breath after tense battles, but brief enough as to not frustrate the waiting player. It all adds up, though honestly it isn’t a very long game anyway. The campaign is short, though I found its length to be just about right. Any more and I fear the developers would’ve added more escort missions, and that would be a nightmare.
There is of course the option to return to battlegrounds you visited in the past, either to just muck about killing things or to play the handful of challenges you unlock over the course of the campaign. But these are for the zealous amongst the series’ fans, and for casual onlookers these extras are very much a ‘take it or leave it’ situation. You’re not missing much if you forgo them as the main reward is more resources for upgrading. One of the many times I’m glad there isn’t a system-wide trophy system on the Switch.
The end of the world
Ultimately I believe this game was made for the fans. For newcomers, it’s more of a historical footnote in gaming history, brought back to life with slightly enhanced visuals. Those interested in just wanting to tear up the neighbourhood, you might get a kick from this. It’s not bad per say; but with loads of newer games and such out there, you’ll be hard-pressed for an iron-clad reason to go get this game if it’s not with a deep discount.
2.5/5 – it’s really not that bad a game, but as for recommending this to new players, I don’t think it would generally go too well. On the other hand, add a heart or so if you’re a fan of the series or a gaming history aficionado.
Available now: $39.99
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small warning: the www link to their official site leads to a warning about a potential security risk at the time of writing. Readers, please be cautious when attempting to access that site. Their twitter is fine though.
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*a review copy has been generously provided for this review