DISCLOSURE: Review copy provided by THQ Nordic.
In the summer of 2005, we learned about the 1959 US invasion by the Furon Empire, spearheaded by Crypto-137. On July 28, 2020, 15 years after the first game released, we got to relive that experience again with new visuals, mechanics, and way more mayhem. I was always a low key fan of the series, with it’s very interesting premise. Up until now, you played through invasions on the side of the unsuspecting Humans who were always caught off guard when a new species from outer space showed up with the intent to annihilate all life on Earth. This time around, we were in the space suit of the aliens, exploring, getting fed up with, and destroying the United States.
Before hopping in to the gameplay, I want to touch on the updated visuals. When the original version came out, it was on the original Xbox just prior to the HD generation launched the following year. The visuals back then were of course basic, and showed enough that we were exploring 1950’s towns, cities, and army bases. Once I booted up the 2020 version, the first thing that popped out to me was how detailed Crypto-137 and Orthopox, your mission giver and upgrade supplier, were.
2005 Crypto-137 and Orthopox
2020 Crypto-137 and Orthopox
Then, you land on Earth. The Humans felt basic, plastic-y and with very exaggerated features. It didn’t hit me until way later on that that was an artistic choice to show what these aliens thought about us, lowly humans. As you get to the towns, cities, and military bases, the colors become very Technicolor-like, the colors that you’d expect to see when colored TVs first came out. Everything was bright and over saturated. In the MIlitary bases, the colors felt over saturated and dull green like in an old army movie. The team over at Black Forest Games did a great job capturing 1950’s Cold War, American dream feel with the 6 areas you visit, and you get a good range of areas you visit too. Throughout your 10-15 hour journey, you’ll visit farmlands, military bases, a small rural town, a port town, and finally, a big city. Each of which look great but limited by the technological capabilities of the original Xbox generation that didn’t get expanded on too much when brought to the Xbox One and that’s OK. Anything bigger would feel overwhelming, with the size of each area feeling just the right size to contain the 4 - 6 missions you’ll complete at each location.
As for the missions, there’s 23 of them, including one that was recovered from the original game code and was never released until now. Each mission uses a similar mission structure with some variation. You arrive, you holobob (take the form of) a human, explore, get insulted by someone, then go on a rampage for destruction’s sake on foot or in your saucer, or to abduct another human for probing. The gameplay is basic but very appealing. You get an arsenal of an ion bomb, an electric gun, an incinerating gun, and a probe. Each weapon and ability you obtain each has their own upgrade tree that increased weapon capacity and added some new, fun spin on each. Like with the probe, you eventually get two that can be used at once and get carried to another human nearby your latest victim whose head just exploded. There were times that the gameplay felt repetitive, but the landscape destruction and mowing down humans spouting cheesy one-liners that sound pulled from 1950’s Action movies felt cathartic (not sure what that says about me to be honest). My favorites that stood out to me were, “Sargent, permission to return gravity, sir” as I was throwing a Private through the air or a man in dark dark brown (actual line), challenging Crypto to 15 rounds in a ring.
I also want to touch on some of the new stuff added to this remake. As mentioned above, there are new abilities that you earn. The most standout one is an ability called Transmog, where you change an inanimate object into ammo. This is a great improvement from the original where you had to run around a map and find ammo pickups. Second, you can use abilities and weapons at the same time. So, a scenario that I did earlier, I was fighting some military men and was running out of ammo with my Disintegrator Ray. I transmogged a mailbox while I was firing my Zap-o-matic. Once getting the hang of this, I felt almost unstoppable as I began to dominate earthlings more efficiently instead of running away to heal or get more ammo. Finally, every area received newly placed probes which are collectibles laying around the map that contain DNA, your collectible used to upgrade your weapons and abilities, and challenges. The challenges were definitely a standout and added some fun post-game moments as each push you to adapt to the scenario. Each area has 4 challenges for you to complete including, a race against a rogue probe, annihilating and causing as much destruction as possible in an area, killing earthlings with an extra challenge to perform kills in a special way, or abducting certain humans or objects efficiently. Completing all of them to get all 3-star ratings, or ace-ingthe challenges , gave me a fun final couple of hours with the game and felt mostly like icing on the cake. The biggest issue though was the final four challenges in Washington D.C. more-or-less felt like an exponential increase in difficulty from the previous 20 which was surprising, and the last race challenge almost made me give up on my wanting to 100% the game.
The new upgrade tree
As for some negatives. I encountered a persistent glitch in mine that reset occassionally with a game reset or a re-install. But, late game, the weapon sounds were offset by several seconds. I didn’t hear some weapon sounds until at least a second after firing. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment but this glitch was very noticeable late game as I was completing some post-game challenges to finish 100%ing the game. Additionally, the voice lines you hear throughout the game are the original lines recorded for the 2005 version that were refined to sound better. This includes some ableist and insulting terms thrown at Crypto as he is spotted. I wish the developers went in to the game and removed some of these one liners like “flying midget!” And replace them with newer lines that keep with the funny quips you normally hear. Finally, there is a crazy spike in difficulty for the final boss. Throughout the game I felt like I was given generous checkpoints which helped for some overwhelming parts when I was surrounded by enemies. But during the final bosses, the game throws new mechanics at you that you never faced before, and failing to overcome them quickly led to a quick game over. More importantly, retrying said bosses after failing put you right back at full health. Again, there was another boss you fought earlier in the game with a checkpoint after each health bar. This made the final fights more tedious than fulfilling to fight, and beating them gave me a feeling more of relief than excitement and satisfaction.
Overall, I had a great time with this remake. There were issues, and repetitive moments, but none of the stuff I highlight above ever took away from my enjoyment. If you need a fun and simple game to play, I recommend picking up Destroy All Humans! If you don’t think too hard about the game, I can promise you that you’ll have at least 15 hours of enjoyment for $30. Destroy All Humans! Presents a fun Alien Invasion story with some twists, and many more fun and funny moments, and I hope that THQ Nordic either remakes the second game or create a brand new story for Crypto and Orthopox that leads to more head popping, mind controlling fun.
Final rating: 7.5/10