15 years is a long time. 15 years ago I wasn’t a parent yet, and I had only just recently gotten engaged to my soon to be wife. It seems like a lifetime ago. 15 years is a long time in gaming too. In that time we’ve seen multiple console generations come and go, and we’ve witnessed gaming evolve in a number of important ways. So how well does a game from 2005 hold up today? Can you slap a new coat of paint on it and still be as entertained today as you were back then? Well… yes and no.
I played the original Destroy All Humans! back when it first came out. It was one of the first games that I played with my then fiancee while I was trying to convince her that I wasn’t a total dork because I liked to spend my Friday night’s with a controller instead of going to parties. So I’ve got some fond memories of the game and was curious to see what new developer Black Forest Games would do to the game in 2020.
The game tells the story of Crypto, a little grey alien who is going to Earth to find out what happened to his predecessor who disappeared while on the planet. Crypto will scan, probe, and vaporize any humans who get in his way on his quest to find out what happened and make sure the people responsible pay.
It became apparent early on in my play through of this remake that the improvements are almost entirely cosmetic. I can’t say for certainty, but from my recollection it seems like the mission structure, abilities, and possibly even the voice acting have been left intact (for better or worse). If the voice acting was redone, they did a good job of recapturing the sounds of the original game, bad Jack Nicholson impression and all.
The visual overhaul is for the most part impressive. The environments look pretty good by today’s standards and Crypto looks as creepy as ever. It’s clear though that all of the other characters got the short end of the remake stick. All of the other character models in the game look like they could be hi res versions of the original PS2 models. It’s pretty jarring when the game goes to a cut scene to see just how ugly they all are.
There are plenty of fun powers to play with as you wreak havoc on the citizens, from an electrocution ray to the ability to assume the identity of anyone you sneak up on. The most fun is probably the telekinesis which let’s you pick up items with your mind and fling them around the world. It never gets old to pick up a cow with your mind and launch it into an unsuspecting enemy.
When you’re not vaporizing foes on foot, you’ll take to the skies in your UFO and destroy everything in sight. Using death rays, tractor beams, and sonic booms to level cities, the flying saucer segments were probably the most fun I had with the game. The explosions when you take out a building are super satisfying and never got old.
Being an almost identical remake, it definitely was entertaining to walk in Crypto’s footsteps again, unfortunately with so much of the game left as is it became clear just how far game design has come in a decade and a half. The missions themselves feel simple, the AI is pretty dumb, and as fun as the rampant destruction is, it does get a bit old after half a dozen or so missions.
The humor is also something that doesn’t hold up particularly well. I don’t know that it was necessarily hilarious in 2005, but I know that the butt probing jokes fell pretty flat for me today. Also, I gotta say that reading the mind of a police officer and hearing him joke about how much he loves police brutality isn’t exactly gut busting in 2020.
If you have history with Destroy All Humans!, I think you’ll find some enjoyment in revisiting the game, even if it may be short lived. For those coming to the series for the first time though, I’m afraid that you’ll probably find it a relic of gaming history that might be better off stored in a government warehouse somewhere with the bodies from Area 51.