I’d you’ve ever had the desire to go back and play a beloved game from generations past, there’s a very good chance that you did it and realised that game hasn’t held up as well as you thought. This is especially true of anything in the early 3D generations. That’s one of the beautiful things about modern video game ‘remakes’ like Destroy All Humans, they afford us the chance to revisit the games we remember in a form that more closely resembles our memories of those games, rather than the harsh truths.
As a remake, Destroy All Humans doesn’t quite reinvent the original PS2 game, but it goes well beyond a simple HD upscaling. It’s a carbon copy of the original’s story and gameplay content rebuilt from the ground up with eye-catching, modern visuals and smoother controls. I was recently afforded the opportunity to spend some time with the game’s first area, Turnipseed Farm, and get a feel for how this re-release is shaping up.
If you’ve never played a Destroy All Humans game before, the idea is pretty simple. As alien invader Cryptosporidium (or Crypto for short), you’re tasked with invading Earth and claiming it for the Furon race. This is done by exploring each of the game’s large areas and completing objectives that usually involve doing some kind of harm to the human inhabitants – zapping them with lasers, using telekinesis to throw them around, probing them etc. It’s all decidedly silly, a riff on the Cold War era of sci-fi with flying saucers and little green (or grey?) men, and the humour might feel a tad dated now but it’s still dumb fun.
When it comes to gameplay, everything here is pretty well exactly how you’d remember it. Content-wise the Turnipseed Farm level was identical to the original, with all of the same cutscenes, tutorial missions and objectives. The whole thing has still been rebuilt from scratch by Black Forest Games though, so improved controls that put it more in line with modern third person action games are a big part of what makes playing this new version Destroy All Humans so compelling. Engaging in prolonged ‘shootouts’ with government agents and wrecking shop in Crypto’s flying saucer felt great, and far less frustrating than I remember. It’s a testament to the original design that all it takes is a new control setup and a shiny new coat of paint to make it feel like something made in 2020, not 2005.
It definitely does look the part too, the PS2 game’s stylised, idyllic, retro-Americana vibe makes the transition to the current generation intact and all the better for it. After spending time on Turnipseed Farm I’m very keen to see the other levels and, dare I say it, Crypto is kind of adorable to me now? All the original voice acting seems to be accounted for too, which is nice given it includes the likes of Richard Steven Horvitz (Invader Zim) and Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop), though some of that original audio does sound a tad low-quality now. Hopefully that’s less egregious in the final release.
While it’s tough to come to any real conclusion about a game after only 30 minutes or so, what I’ve played so far of Destroy All Humans coupled with the gift of experience with the original PlayStation 2 version has me very optimistic. All Black Forest Games need to do is deliver the rest of the game on the level that we’ve seen so far and it’ll be a fun trip back in time with enough modern bells and whistles to also make it a fun trip to Earth regardless. Crpyto is back in currency, baby!