Friday, February 13, 2009

Destroy All Humans! 2 (2006) (PS2, XBOX)

At the start of the 42 Challenge, I promised myself that I would review at least one science-fiction game, and here it is.

“Destroy All Humans! 2” puts you into the shoes of Cryptosporidium-138, a Furon which looks exactly like the “greys” beloved in conspiracy theories. He has a large head, large eyes, puny body, a huge violent streak, and an equally huge sex drive. Originally, Crypto landed on Earth in the 1950’s, spent the last decade ruling America (see the first game as to how Crypto manages this, it’s also quite a fun game in the same vein as it’s sequel). This game is set in the 1960’s, at the height of the hippie movement. The KGB have found Crypto and his identity, and are out to kill him. The rest of the game is spent figuring out why the KGB want to kill you, dealing with the problems they pose for you, and doing a bunch of other missions not really associated with the plot, but are so fun that you will not care.

The characters in the game are all stereotypes, and it’s not the most complex or challenging of plots, but you know that within moments of starting the game, if you had not figured out from the game’s case and instruction manual. It’s the equivalent of playing all of those B-grade SF invasion movies you would never admit to watching, and it’s so much fun that any niggles you have with the game are simply disregarded.

Since you will be inflicting quite a lot of devastation on the places you visit, the most important thing in this game are the weapons you get to use, and there are a lot to play with. You start of with one weapon for your flying saucer, and a stungun and disc-firing gun for yourself, but you can expand your arsenal so that you have four weapons for your saucer, and eight weapons for yourself, all of which you upgrade as you choose, and on the main part, quite fun to use. You get weapons like a disintegrator gun, an ion bomb, a weapon that summons asteroids, to a gun that summons a burrowing beast that owes a great deal to the sandworms of Dune. Crypto also has several other things to help him – a jetpack, and several psychokinetic powers, including the ability to steal a person’s body, and all of these are also great fun and you will be using them quite a lot in the game, both for fun and to forward the plot.

The Saucer is quite fun, too – the disintegrator ray is straight out of every B-grade SF movie and is great fun to wield, and the quantum deconstructor is one of the game’s best weapons. The rest of the saucer’s weapons are solid but not noteworthy. As an alien flying a UFO, you also get a cloaking device, and can abduct people for your own nefarious purposes. Just like real life, then.

Another good thing about this game is that it is filled with a great amount of homages to science fiction. A lot of sixties science fiction is referenced either in passing, or in a more direct manner – some of the references include Dune, Doctor Who, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Star Trek, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange are just a few of the examples I encountered in the game, and I suspect there are far more that I missed simply because I am not immersed in the SF of that era. There’s also references outside of science fiction too, and outside of the sixties – the game doesn’t mind straying from the era in which it is in.

There’s a decent variety in the missions you have to do, and what you have to do in them – escort, assassinations, starting and running your own cult, levelling buildings and armies, finding out information covertly, tracking down items, and protecting buildings and the like.
It’s also quite a funny game. From the sly to blatant SF references to constant knocks on the fourth wall to Crypto’s incessant demands to either destroy things or have sex. It’s quite low-brow, but still elicts it’s fair share of laughs.

There are a few problems which I might mention that do detract from the game somewhat. The main one is that this is a short game; you will have completed in less than thirty hours. There are some minor glitches in the surfaces that you fly around on. Much of the game is fairly easy, particularly if you have been diligent in doing side missions to help upgrade your weapons and abilities. And although the characters are one-dimensional for the purposes of satire, they are still one-dimensional characters, and there are inconsistencies in the plots and missions you are required to do – you work for people, and then work against them later, for no over-arching plot purpose except to have fun.

But for my complaints, I don’t really care. Playing as an alien taking over earth is such great fun. There’s been a lot of effort into making a variety of weapons that Crypot can wield, and it shows. I also appreciate the variety in the humour and the constant SF references in the game. My complaints are the equivalent of complaining about the icing on top of a cake. 4.5/5.

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