Destroy All Humans! is a remake that stays extremely true to the original. When it first released back in 2005, I picked this game up and completed it, to 100% I might add, twice before putting it down. I really enjoyed the fresh style and take on the open world genre, and wanted more.
Sadly the series fell to the wayside as the developers failed to evolve it, but this remake is something really special. Not only has everything been brought up to standard visually, the mechanics have been improved up to make it stand up against other games in 2020. Honestly, this is one of the best games that lets you play as a human-hating alien out there.
A Furious Path
The story of Destroy All Humans! is really easy to get on board with. A race known as the Furons need to gather new DNA in order to continue living forever through cloning. Eons ago their ancestors did the nasty with our ancestors, so naturally they’re coming to claim what is rightfully theirs right out of our double helixes. The problem is that it’s roughly 1950, and humanity is putting up a fight.
Players arrive to find a world gripped by fear, though not entirely because of alien sightings. The cold war and communism occupy the airwaves, and everyone is on edge. This makes harvesting Furon DNA pretty difficult, so a new path has to be forged. It’s this path that players follow, integrating themselves with humanity without outright invading, allowing them to get what they need in the end, but also have a bit of fun with death lasers.
Outside of the story, every location can be revisited for various challenge objectives. These are a fun side segment to the main game, and give you a reason to explore every location more thoroughly. There are objects to collect, destruction challenges, and much more. These objectives alone add hours of game time, but you’ll struggle to get to them thanks to the quality of the story that’s here to follow.
The story was always tongue-in-cheek, but it’s aged really well. Looking back at the paranoia of the 1950s, and the tropes the game pulled from the era, is a joy to be a part of. The game now includes even more variety in the thoughts you read, some of which I caught myself laughing out loud to. If you’re after a game that will genuinely make you do that, this is it.
The game is made up of a number of semi-open worlds, packed full of humans to harvest, buildings to blow up, and a lot of fun to be had. Each of these were present in the original, but they weren’t quite as vast or detailed. With the extra horsepower modern machines provide, these locations have been fully realised. This helps the game feel like a proper remake, which it is for the most part.
The game does away with the protagonist’s mental limitations, allowing you to use your basic abilities, telekinesis, brain harvesting, and Holobobbing to their full potential. In the original you had a limit on how long you could disguise yourself as a human for before needing to scan someone’s thoughts to recharge. You also couldn’t run around harvesting brains at will, or throwing people into the distance with your mind. Now that this is possible, the game makes you feel like a truly advanced alien, though humans have been brought up a notch as well.
The enemy AI is now far more persistent and lethal. This balances out any additional firepower players have, and never makes the game feel unfair. In fact, I found myself wishing that the enemies had even more firepower, just so that I could be challenged a little more. However, as things are, this is a really welcome change that doesn’t ruin the game’s feel in any way.
As with the open worlds, your weapons both on foot and on your ship have been pushed to the next level. There are way more than I remember from the original game, and they can all be upgraded using the Brain Stems you harvest in each mission. Each upgrade is meaningful, providing you with an immediate increase in power or ability.
This is of course typical of games from around the time that the original released. Somehow even the old ones don’t feel old here though. I think that we’ve spent long enough playing games that innovate on the innovations made in the last decade that returning to something so simple and reactive is actually a nice change.
The ship upgrades in particular help keep the destruction of towns of the best parts of the game. There’s nothing better than melting a location to ashes once you’ve spent five or so missions being hunted by the locals. Even games like GTA 5, which let you do almost anything you want, don’t have this level of satisfaction. I think it must come from the lack of realism in the game’s world.
The best part of this remake is the updated visuals. The game hasn’t just seen a texture upgrade. Those old textures have been thrown out, and an entirely new art style has been applied. Characters look fantastic, locations look vibrant and alive, and alien powers pop amongst it all like never before.
I really do think that the team who built this remake went through every aspect and lovingly rebuilt it from the vision that they thought would have been applied if the PlayStation 4 had been around at the time of development. It feels more than true to the original, this is the original. Sadly though, that does come with some flaws.
Turn the Sound off
Whilst playing Destroy All Humans! I was able to remember the issues that plagued the original, because some of them are still present. The audio for example, is ripped right out of the original game. There’s even an in-game prompt that tells you this. Unfortunately that means that dialogue and original weapon noises are pretty rubbish. There’s a tinny sound to it all that pulls the game back from what you’d expect it to sound like given the flashy visuals.
Even the soundtrack has the same old issue that I remember from Destroy All Humans! in 2005. The tracks for each location, and combat, will loop. This itself isn’t an issue, apart from the fact that the tracks have a gap of silence at the beginning and end, so you can hear when the track finishes and restarts. It’s nothing game breaking, but it’s infuriating that this issue couldn’t be fixed at all.
Some of the game’s controls also suffer from not being updated. Yes, they have been changed to accommodate the new loadouts, but they still feel awkward. Holobobbing, changing your appearance to disguise as a human, remains one of the hardest to perform moves in the game for some reason. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the controls just don’t sit right with games I’ve been playing for the last ten so years.
One saving grace for this remake of Destroy All Humans! being built from the original from the ground up is the recovery of a lost mission. I won’t spoil it, but the original game alluded to the mission’s existence, and I always felt like there was a gap where it should have been. The remake sees this mission lovingly restored, and it definitely adds to the game for fans of the series.
If you’re not a long time fan of the series though, this mission will pass you by. That doesn’t mean that it won’t make the game feel just as great, the impact will simply be lost on you.
Something else that’s along the same lines in the game is the animation before every mission. You see the protagonist, in his ship, fly out of the Mothership, and down to Earth. In the original game this was part of the loading sequence. In the remake though, you can skip it. I think that leaving the animation in is a fantastic move, because it’s something I’ve always enjoyed, and something that I think is integral to playing through every mission for the first time.
I really did have a great time jumping back into a game I thought I’d never play again here. It’s a wonderful remake, and one of the best I think we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Not only does it give you a fantastic adventure to go on in little grey boots, it builds upon that adventure to make every minute in the game that much more fun.
Even now I can see myself at least playing the game until I get a platinum trophy on PlayStation 4. At most, I’ll definitely be jumping back in over the next year or so to finish everything all over again.
My hope is that enough people enjoy this remake of Destroy All Humans! that the entire series sees the same treatment. It would be great to jump back into the other games after some modernisation. What would be even better, is a brand new entry to the series for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
A code was provided by the publisher for this second opinion review.