Over the history of sci-fi pop culture, alien invasions have taken many forms. H.G. Wells imagined a full-scale assault, a War of the Worlds. Steven Spielberg took a different angle seeing extra-terrestrials as harmless, gentle beings in E.T. Back in 2005, Pandemic tried their hands at creating an alien invasion, taking inspiration from all avenues of sci-fi, birthing a fan-favourite title called Destroy All Humans! Fifteen years later, it's back and better than ever, in this modernised, visually striking remake, once again going by the name of Destroy All Humans!
Created as a faithful remake of Pandemic's 2005 original, Destroy All Humans! is Black Forest Games' modern take on a fan-favourite franchise. Following the story of Cryptosporidium-137 (or Crypto), the latest cloned alien warrior of a dominant galactic empire of lifeforms known as the Furons, Destroy All Humans! tasks the little grey spaceman with infiltrating 1960s America, executing the nefarious plans of Orthopox-13 (or Pox), whilst learning about and destroying the American people who killed and autopsied his predecessor, Crypto-136. Global conquest is not all that easy however, as Crypto will have to evade or annihilate the ever-suspicious military and the strange government faction known as Majestic.
With a campaign that takes place across the entirety of the U.S. and with several unique sandbox locations to cause unthinkable mayhem in, Destroy All Humans! features a broad range of ways to play. From completing your mission of bringing the people to their knees, to harvesting DNA samples or reducing a town to cinders, there is not only a variety of things to do but also a host of different ways to do it.
Crypto himself comes armed to teeth, with a host of space-age weaponry and tools from the wildest dreams of science fiction. From a handy jetpack to the shockingly fun Zap-O-Matic or perhaps even the intrusive, yet effective Anal Probe, Crypto brings a variety of unique tools great for obliterating any life form that poses a threat. A personal favourite is the Ion Detonator, a sort of Furon version of a grenade launcher, built with enough firepower to decimate armies. The catch with enslaving an entire populous, however, is sometimes it requires a little finesse, which is why Crypto is also a master of espionage and mind games.
Using his disproportionally massive brain, Crypto can use PsychoKinesis to manipulate objects, telepathy to read minds or implant commands for humans to do his bidding, and the cream of the crop, use the HoloBob to imitate the appearance of anybody he comes into contact with. Combining the full list of tricks up his spacesuit sleeve, he can easily sneak his way into anywhere, from carnivals to military bases, perhaps even your own home! Being an alien warrior, however, is not all footwork, sometimes you need to take to the sky to unleash a little more firepower in what can only be described as a conspiracy theorist's worst nightmare, a flying saucer.
Crypto uses his saucer to traverse America, bringing him to each new location of interest. This does not mean however that the spaceship itself is not stacked full of tools to really instil terror in the eyes of the primordial monkeys the Furons aim to enslave. From the immeasurably powerful and destructive Death Ray to the iconic Abducto Beam, Crypto's saucer can be used in a plethora of ways when accomplishing the mission of humankind domination. The Quantum Destructor with its cataclysmic nuclear ammunition and satisfying sound effect is an absolute favourite of mine.
To further build out Crypto's kit, you can upgrade pretty much everything he can do at Pox's Lab in the Furon Mothership. Upgrading costs DNA, which can be acquired from completing missions, exploring, or through extracting brains from human subjects. Whichever way you go about it, your hard work can be translated into rewards for Crypto and his saucer. For example, you can add a chain effect to the Zap-O-Matic's bolts to make for easier group annihilation, or a long-lasting superheated line of destruction behind the Death Ray's path, ideal for controlling ground space, or even new tricks like the S.K.A.T.E. ability, which allows Crypto to glide across the floor at a much faster speed than running. Spending DNA is a great way to elevate Crypto's lethality, which is handy as the variety of enemies starts to become more receptive and responsive to his actions.
Over the many different playable locations, Crypto will face a host of different humans out to blast him back into space. These enemies range from simple backwater farmers in Turnipseed Farm to the full scale of the US military at Area 42. Each different type of enemy varies in lethality, reflecting who they are. The farmers or residents of Rockwell are less dangerous than the wannabe Men In Black from Capitol Hill known as Majestic.
Similarly, there are some unique enemy types that become apparent as the storyline progresses. These can be the mutant humans, who have fused their DNA with Furon DNA to become more resilient and able to use psychic powers like Crypto, or the much less frequent bosses, who pop up at specific points in the campaign. Without giving away too much, boss engagements provide a whole new challenge and quite often require Crypto to tackle combat a little differently than his usual shoot and never ask questions method. The main issue with the combat and enemy types, however, is how they never seem to faze Crypto at all. Sometimes it really does feel like you can't be challenged, and it can make the gameplay feel slightly limited at times.
To keep Destroy All Humans! interesting at all times, each completed location can be returned to for a bit of sandbox fun. Here you can play around with the physics engine and cause as much chaos as you please, or alternatively complete side activities. Each area has a race, an abduction quest, an armageddon mission, and a rampage quest that asks Crypto to complete a specific set of goals within a time limit to earn stars and some DNA to spend. Furthermore, each area has a bunch of collectable Furon Probes scattered around the map waiting to be found, each providing some DNA when collected. Essentially, with the way each sandbox is designed, completing the main storyline is only the start of Crypto's conquest.
If perfection is your goal and being a completionist is important to you, Destroy All Humans! has a sprawling list of extras to work towards. There are new skins earned by completing objectives during missions. My favourite is the Mootant skin, which turns him into a bovine-alien hybrid. Likewise, there is a bunch of concept art waiting to be unlocked, offering an insight into what the title could have been. Destroy All Humans! offers tons of ways to enjoy its rowdy and chaotic gameplay, which is fantastic because being a space invader has never been so much fun.
The real question about this remake of Destroy All Humans! is how does it stack up against its predecessor? Lots of remasters or remakes nowadays can feel a little lacking but Destroy All Humans! is what a remake should be. It preserves the integrity of the original whilst simultaneously bringing it forward into the modern-day. With it being a pound-for-pound reimagining, fans of the original will be nostalgic and new players will enjoy a very similar experience to the one everyone else did back in 2005, the only difference is how it looks much better and feels great to play, as a 2020 title should.
There are times where the jokes or humour feel a little dated and perhaps do not hold up as well. There are occasions where the mission format becomes repetitive and you could want some slightly different things to do, but this is not a new title in the Destroy All Humans! series, it's a remake of the beloved 2005 original, and because of this, it's hard not to love it. This is a fine example of what a remake should be, and for that, Black Forest Games should be commended for respecting what made Pandemic's vision so brilliant and upholding it so well.
In conclusion, Destroy All Humans! is one the better remakes out there. It takes what made the 2005 original brilliant and updates it with modernised visuals and gameplay, to deliver a faithful reimagining of a crazy, sci-fi adventure. Between the satisfying weaponry and abilities, to the parody of 1960s America, Destroy All Humans! gives fans exactly what they want, a space-aged sandbox of destruction. It is hard to know whether this will serve as the first step for a full series reboot, but either way, experiencing the story in Crypto's little green space-shoes was a blast. Hopefully, he won't hear me say that.