Over the last few years, many classic games have been brought back with a bang on PlayStation 4. Whether it's Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, or Shadow of the Colossus, we've been treated to some superb remakes that not only bring the visuals up to date, but also make them feel modern again. Destroy All Humans is the latest title to be revived in this manner, but it's unfortunately not in the same league as the aforementioned examples.
This is a full recreation of the 15-year-old PS2 title of the same name. The game sees you controlling an aggressive alien named Crypto as he invades America in the 1950s. Inspired by sci-fi B-movies of the era, it puts you in the boots of the antagonist, delivering its story with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Gameplay boils down to, well, destroying humans, be that with psychic powers or an arsenal of otherworldly weapons.
If you played and loved the original back in 2005, odds are you'll love this remake too. It sticks very closely to the source material, which fans will appreciate, but there are some smart changes to how it plays. The controls have been completely overhauled, and are definitely an improvement on the original. You can also now combine powers and weapons, using both simultaneously for more efficient destruction. Some restrictions have been lifted, too; there's now no limit on Crypto's psychic abilities, and you can now extract DNA from humans while piloting the flying saucer.
These updates, along with new evasive manoeuvres like a dash and the ability to "skate" along the ground, aim to make the game feel new again. Unfortunately, while the gameplay tweaks do improve the experience to a degree, the game feels like a relic of the past. It's a faithful remake, but that's to its detriment in some areas. In particular, mission design, AI, animation, and cutscenes all feel ancient.
The trouble with Destroy All Humans is that it wasn't an incredible game to begin with, and its problems show up even clearer in 2020. Difficulty spikes are rife, stealth is half-baked, and the story feels disjointed. We've moved past old fashioned design choices like time limits on objectives, infinitely spawning enemies, and insta-fail segments, but they're all here in abundance. Granted, this is a remake of a pretty old game, but more could've been done to modernise the missions and smooth out the experience.
So, the story missions aren't great, but what about free roaming? There are six small sandboxes you can run around in causing mayhem, and there's absolutely some fun to be had. Humanity is your plaything; you can read their minds or take on their appearance to walk among them, but that's not the main attraction. Throwing people and objects around with psychokinesis, using alien weapons to vaporise them, or extracting Furon DNA from them by popping the brains from their skulls -- it's mindless fun, on foot or in the saucer. As you cause more chaos, more powerful enemies will show up, but you're more than a match for those puny humans -- especially with some upgrades. There were enhancements for Crypto's weapons and abilities in the original, but there are way more in the remake. Once you have them all, you're basically unstoppable.
Of course, this aimless violence will only last you for so long, so it's good that the challenges make their return. In each sandbox are four challenges, such as Abduction, where you need to throw specific things into a huge beam, or Armageddon, where you need to cause as much damage as possible within the time. These optional missions are fine, and do add some needed extra interest to the otherwise pretty empty locations.
Visually, the game is of course a big leap from the PS2 title, but it's not going to wow anyone. Crypto and his saucer look good, and there's some nice environmental detail, but it's otherwise quite inconsistent; human characters are particularly poor. Audio quality isn't great either. Dialogue is the worst offender, with voices seemingly lifted from the original sounding all compressed as a result. There are other presentational problems, like transitions to and from the saucer being jarringly fast, and constant fades to black interrupting things during missions.
One other bizarre choice is that you're sent back to the mothership after you complete a mission. In the original, you would finish a mission and then would be put into sandbox mode so you could keep playing. This seems like an odd backwards step to us. You can go back into free roam after the mission, but that means having to sit through another loading screen while you open the map you were just in.
We're sure the biggest Destroy All Humans fans out there will love this version. It's definitely fun playing as a mischievous alien, and the enhancements made to gameplay do mean the remake is an improvement overall. However, more needed to be done in order for the game to really stand out once again. More than other remakes, you can really feel the years on this one.
Destroy All Humans is a good attempt to bring back the cult classic in 2020, but it misses the mark in a few key areas. While there are some nice improvements to the core gameplay, they don't do enough to rescue the old fashioned mission design and difficulty spikes. It's a shame, because there's some fun to be found here -- you just have to put up with quite a lot of PS2 era baggage. Fans will be delighted, but this remake is hardly out of this world.