Destroy All Humans!
(THQ for PS2)
by Mike Delano
Games can have personalities, and if those personalities are likeable enough, gamers are often likely to overlook some flaws for the sake of an experience that feels like some real heart went into its creation. Earthworm Jim was the epitome of gonzo cool in the 16-bit days, and the twisted, inspired claymation of Skull Monkeys for the Playstation made it much more than the bare-bones platformer that it was.
Today’s technology and game budgets allow for even fuller realizations of developers’ creative visions, from the vast cities and casts of characters in the Grand Theft Auto series to the kid-friendly Sly Cooper titles. Destroy All Humans! is a throwback to the silliness of ’50s sci-fi film and television, like the campy glee of Tim Burton’s similarly punctuated 1996 flick, Mars Attacks! Like that film, the game offers a quick burst of fun that’s more flash than substance.
The game follows Crypto Sporidium 137, a tiny-bodied, big-headed alien whose objective is to survey Earth for DNA harvesting. The majority of his missions are split between some light stealth work via undercover information gathering and the uninhibited carnage promised in the game’s title. Both types of missions work well, but the gameplay is not engaging enough to make you want to partake in any of the several optional side missions. And while the stealth missions give the game variety, it would’ve worked just as well and probably flowed better as a straight-up blaster all the way through.
Crypto has a list of humorous abilities at his disposal, from anal probes to hypnotic rays, but mostly he’ll use his brain scan to find out what the yokels are thinking during the informational missions and a variety of blasters to levels cities and citizens during action missions.
It’s almost a given in today’s market that Crypto is a wise-crackin’, authority-defying lead character, and neither his tirades nor his regular banter with the alien-mother-like Pox on the mother ship between missions elicit many laughs. Instead, the game’s real humor is in its vast cast of minor characters, like the small-town mayor you’ll control as he placates his citizens with patriotic ramblings and denouncements of communism after local cows start to glow a radioactive green. Scanning people’s thoughts is similarly amusing, especially when targeting policemen and housewives.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the world of Destroy All Humans! for a little while, if only to experience its unique sense of humor and vibrant design. The gameplay might only intrigue you for the span of a rental, because a few bucks for an experience like this feels like a steal.