Reviews

Destroy All Humans!

Remember that classic VW ad, where the hick and his wife describe a UFO sighting only for it to turn out to be the new Golf? That was genius. This slice of extra-terrestrial excellence is also genius. And we don't make that statement lightly. Looking like a Mars Attacks meets affectionate B-movie pastiche, and playing like GTA meets Mercenaries, we haven't seen anything quite this cool before. Our tongues went firmly in our cheeks at the black and white opener and stayed there for the duration of this superb '50s schlock sci-fi piss-take. The cracking script (doomed alien race plundering human DNA to extend their own existence) is spot on and provides plenty of in-jokes and genuine laugh-out-loud moments.

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The game itself plays superbly too. Controlling antihero Crypto-137 is simple, and although he has a whole host of complex commands and weapons at his disposal, the intuitive menu system means even in the heat of a Photon-flinging firefight players can switch between combat options with ease.

A massive part of the game's appeal is the awesome use of the Havok physics engine. Crypto has psychokinesis powers that enable him to move and manipulate objects, including, comically, both humans and animals (see Farmageddon, top right). This ability acts as a default weapon, particularly during missions where you're stripped of your space-age rifles, or when ammo is scarce. Upgrading your PK results in you being able to move heavier objects around, and here's where the fun really begins. Incredible physics toss the cars around like tin cans. Use tanks, trucks and cows as projectile weapons; there are endless possibilities. Scythe down a row of small-town simpletons, or pile up police cars then fire off a Detonator round to set off a brilliantly destructive chain reaction. Sweet!

Because the Furons are on a quest to harvest human DNA, this in turn doubles as the game's currency. It's easily extracted from humans in varying quantities. Fresh brains provide a greater DNA count than those from corpses, and intelligent fellows like scientists and G Men naturally produce more than your average mid-western hick.

Once you've completed the primary mission objectives of each level, Crypto is left in a sandbox environment to explore at his leisure. This is awesome fun, and massively adds to the lifespan of the game. We seriously couldn't believe how long we spent, once a mission was completed, throwing people around and laying waste to neighbourhoods. You're free to clamber back into your saucer and wreak havoc on the area too. It's amazing fun to use your ship's awesomely powerful weapons to decimate city blocks, and the physics engine shines through as bricks and mortar (along with any humans unfortunate enough to be in the area) are reduced to smouldering, charred remains. Independence Day can stick its huge lasers; this destruction on such an intimate scale is way more fun. You're free to return to the mothership at any point, though it's in your interests to hang around and gather additional DNA, which will unlock the next mission and also make valuable upgrades available to Crypto. Numerous sub-challenges (like Jet Pack races and destroying/harvesting within tight time limits) are enjoyable, though strangely these can be repeated till the cows come home (from their mutilating experiments) to gain more DNA. A bit cheap maybe, but there's just enough variation in the tasks to justify this.

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But it's the little things that made us warm to Destroy All Humans! like a soldier to a flaming death ray. The countless in-jokes and references to other films, the mocking comment of NPCs on the American dream, and even the less-than-loving relationship between Crypto and his controlling superior... all the icing on the cake of an incredibly fun actioner. It might be let down by a fair bit of pop-up and cutscenes that are rougher than Billy Bob and Mary-Lou's inbred offspring, but Destroy All Humans! still manages to be irreverent, unique, disturbingly addictive and satisfyingly large in scale. A close encounter you definitely won't walk away wincing in pain from. Trust no one but us!

The verdict

A massively playable action romp, furiously fun and very, very funny. Not quite out of this world, but very close.

8
Format
Xbox
Developer
Pandemic Studios
Publisher
THQ
Genre
Action

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