Review

Destroy All Humans Review – An Obsolete Invasion

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All great works are products of their particular era. However, some works of art go beyond these limits; that’s why literary students still read Shakespeare and why Citizen Kane is still considered one of the best films ever made. Taken out of their historical context, they transcend time and draw on something universal. Destroy All Humans doesn’t have that special quality – a fact that was constantly apparent as I grimaced through this remake. To be clear, I have fond memories of my time with the original. Destroy All Humans was first released in 2005, developed by the now closed Pandemic Studios. At the time, I thought his sardonic take on an alien invasion in the 1950s was fun and clever, and ridiculous weapons (like an anal probe gun) were fun to use. I loved zapping humans, exploring open environments and flying in my saucer. I make no apologies for enjoying these things 15 years ago, but the experience is holding up badly in every way. Destroy All Humans gives the impression of belonging to a time capsule that should have remained buried. Everything is not exactly as I remember; The improved visuals are a big part of the redesign of the new version from developer Black Forest Games. The characters and the chaos are definitely better, but if you know the original you’ll notice some other improvements as well. For example, the controls and interface have been changed to be more modern and intuitive. However, the basic design, story, and dialogue are true to the 2005 version – and that’s the problem. Minor quality-of-life changes are nice, but correcting them seems unnecessary when more important aspects remain so painfully intact. It’s like treating the symptoms of an illness rather than the underlying cause. Mission design is the most prevalent problem, and this is where action seems most outdated. Your goals may have irreverent wraps, like using psychokinesis to throw radioactive cows, but the game mechanics of each level are unfortunately common. They feature a parade of tired mid-2000s conventions like “survive waves of enemies” and “protect the tower” with uneven difficulty spikes and bad checkpoints. Even at their best, these activities are repetitive and predictable. You must also infiltrate areas using a holographic disguise, which can only be refreshed by constantly reading the thoughts of the humans around you, forcing you to experience the same dialogues over and over again. Some of these lines may bring a smile the first time you hear them, but there’s always a second, third, and fourth to kick the joke into the ground. Another defining characteristic that hasn’t aged well is humor. What might have sounded subversive and hilarious in 2005 now looks lame and juvenile, from Crypto’s love to fathom to his voice of Jack Nicholson. This handwriting has never been exactly subtle, but the caricatures of government officials, housewives, and rural farmers appear only more evident and blunt today. And although the game begins by warning players that it was first created in another era, jokes about things like police brutality make it hard to stay on the same page and laughter with Destroy All Humans. Black Forest Games has created a more aesthetic version of a 15-year-old game, and this remake is a success in that regard. But whether Destroy All Humans is worth revisiting is a whole different question. The brightest moments are when action gives way to sheer chaos. I watched the electricity arc between humans, squeezed brains out of heads and turned a secret base into smoldering ruins with my spaceship’s death ray. But like a person floating above the ground in the glow of an abduction ray, these moments are unrelated to anything substantial; they just make noise and are thrown aside.

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