I love campy, terrible B movies, especially ones of the science-fiction variety. Anyone who pre-ordered Destroy all Humans! 2 from GameStop in 2006 got a free copy of Plan 9 From Outer Space, which, if you haven’t seen it, should be on your list of movies to see this week or before you die, whichever comes first. Plan 9 is a movie that is so god-awful that it’s great to watch, especially in a group of people who can all appreciate how terrible it is. So there are good movies and, on the other end of the spectrum, there are bad movies that are so bad they are good again. In the middle, you have movies that are just plain bad, and that is where Destroy all Humans! as a series is slouching toward.
Just like in previous installments, you are alien invader Crypto, and you must run around a clichéd time frame, in this case the 70s, on various escort missions, fetch missions, and blow-stuff-up missions. You can also run around and wantonly destroy anything and everything in your path, sandbox style. New to the series is a giant battle robot ala the Big Boy restaurant chains run by Crypto’s buddy Pox. A wide variety of parody enemies show up, and you must defend your plan to destroy all the humans by… destroying all the humans in your way.
This game does not come from the same developer as the previous two titles, Pandemic, and it shows in the details. The scripting is not as clever, although it’s still funny for the most part, but, in lieu of clever references, the games beats you up with double entendre. You see, Big Willy is not only the name of the fast food chain Crypto is running—it can also mean penis. See what they did there? Even Crypto seems to get tired of it. The voice acting, while still decent, is not the same as previous titles and also wasn’t done by the original voice actors. Like when your annoying friend impersonates Dana Carvey impersonating George Bush Sr. It’s so far removed from the original source that it bears little resemblance to the actual source, and it’s very noticeable in this title.
You next notice this problem in the levels themselves. Textures occasionally pop on close objects and some objects fade in a little late. I’m unsure if this a hardware issue or a problem with the game itself, but it’s definitely not working here, and the game could overall have benefited from having sharper graphics by sacrificing the larger sandbox for a smaller one. Although the missions are short and you could crank them out in an afternoon, there are plenty of side missions and unlockables to keep you occupied for a weekend or more.
This is the first Destroy all Humans! title to make it to the Wii, which is both good and bad. Grand Theft Auto-style play has not made much of a presence on the Wii, so for someone who doesn’t own all three next-gen consoles, there is something new to enjoy. A major component of that kind of play is two analog sticks: one for movement, and one for camera controls. Here, the controls are split. When you are Crypto, you move the camera by moving the pointer to the edge of the screen, but when you are in your flying saucer or Big Willy robot, the camera is moved by tilting the Wii-mote left and right. It sounds more awkward than it is, although it does take some getting used to, and switching between the two schemes does leave some lingering confusion.
The multiplayer is a joke. Don’t for a second think that this is a two-player game, because it was so tacked on to the end product that you and your friend will be bored in 30 minutes.
The first Destroy all Humans! was a great idea that became the foundation for a great game, but here we see that great idea crammed into something reinvented trying to retain what made it successful, and you’re met with mediocrity. The first title worked because it was based on campy 50s sci-fi, but there is very little sci-fi found in the 70s, so the developers are relegated to poking fun at disco, which I’m guessing they didn’t know has been done to death. Without the finer points of excellent scripting, creepy theremin soundtracks, and sharp graphics, the experience relies heavily on gameplay and controls. The gameplay is rehashed almost entirely from the first two titles in the series, which makes the control issues a bit more annoying to veterans.
The series is over the hill, and if it doesn’t start trying something new or going in a new direction, the next game, slated for a 2008 release on the PS3 and titled Destroy all Humans! Path of the Furon, is going to tank, and rightfully so. If you were a fan of the first two games, you will most likely find yourselfdisappointed here, but it’s worth renting to get a taste of the series. Most likely it will make you want to go back and play an earlier title. If you’re new to the series, there is no harm in picking it up used or renting it. In fact, I would recommend it, because there are good things to be had here.