Games where you play as the villain really hit a high note through the 00’s. Ushered in by classics like Dungeon Keeper, it was soon normal to see games where you play as the antihero, or just someone who is plain evil—games like the God of War series, and Grand Theft Auto were extremely popular. While other series like Destroy All Humans! have almost faded into obscurity. It’s great to see this classic getting a re-release, and a fresh coat of paint.
Destroy All Humans! is a refresh of the 2005 game, releasing almost exactly 15 years after the original’s release. I say “refresh” because, as you know, there are two types of remakes: those that up the graphics, and those that completely start from the ground-up and completely remake the game. Destroy All Humans! feels like the former gameplay-wise, but definitely looks like a completely new game graphics-wise.
The difference between the graphics in the original and the remake are generational, They don’t match the best graphics of this fading generation, but they’re definitely leaps and bounds beyond the original. And it’s not just a new set of textures and other graphical tricks—but new models and more, bringing the graphics up to something that is more akin to modern standards.
Even with all the new graphical enhancements, the gameplay feels the same. Now, I have to admit that I don’t have a copy of Destroy All Humans! to test this on, but this remake definitely feels like it has gameplay from 2005. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a great thing, either. Luckily, Destroy All Humans! has always been simple. Sometimes you have to hide and trick using holographic technology that allows you to take any form, and other times your goal is to just wreak wanton destruction. Most often, it’s a mixture of the two.
Cryptosporidium’s one-alien invasion is possible with the insane technologies that he brings to the fight. Not only can you often employ your flying saucer with a death ray like something out of Independence Day (I mean, this game’s from 2005, so it makes sense) but you can also “abduct” objects, and drop them from your craft for impressive amounts of destruction.
On the ground, Crypto is equally dangerous. He can get around quickly with his jetpack, and dispatch humans in all different ways: electrocution, disintegration, brain stem removal, etc. With his personal shield, Crypto can take a beating while mowing down the hordes of humans who are trying to fend off your invasion.
While the gameplay might not have aged that well but still manages to be fun, the writing didn’t age well at all. Calling it irreverent would be accurate, and calling it terrible would also be accurate. I don’t even think fifteen-years ago-me would have appreciated it. The main character, Cryptosporidium, sounds like he’s attempting a Christian Slater doing a Jack Nicholson impression through gritted teeth. And it’s true that you’re a ruthless invader here to kill humans, so I would expect loathsome qualities—but Crypto comes off as edgy and obnoxious. Despite the writer’s best efforts to make the humans as equally loathsome and therefore as killable as possible, I still found myself rooting for them over Crypto’s excruciating banter. At least the voice actor for Invader Zim lends his voice to that banter in the form of Crypto’s boss, but it’s one of the only bright spots in a dreary production.
It doesn’t help the writing that most of the humor is topical to the time it was released—which was fifteen years ago. So if you want to hear “chicken of the sea” or “chicken by the sea” jokes and other such timely references, Destroy All Humans! will provide that strange nostalgia. It’s like opening a cultural time capsule.
I didn’t really want any more from the Destroy All Humans! refresh than what we got—and that was a nostalgia trip. The gameplay feels intact, while the graphics are brought up to modern standards. Unfortunately, the writing and often the subject matter didn’t age well, which is both great and cringey for various reasons. If you liked the original, you’ll enjoy this faithful update.
Destroy All Humans! Is available tomorrow
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