While nothing will ever replace them, classic sci-fi
schlock like Plan 9 from Outer Space has probably inspired more modern cinema and
video games than true classics like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. The parodies
are constant, and Destroy All Humans runs with just that. It's been regarded as Grand
Theft Auto with an alien, and it's hard to find a better description.
Players take control of a dying alien race (they have no
genitalia), and they need Earth people so they can expand their cloning operations. It's
with this set up that gamers wreak havoc on a hilariously ignorant towns people, concerned
more with communism and radiation than any alien threat. From a third person perspective,
Krypto unleashes hell, snapping brain stems (complete with green goop) from unsuspecting
victims to seal away their DNA.
The basic mission structure sets up well, dropping the little gray alien into 1950s
suburbia where his actions commence. He has multiple items to do his bidding, and plenty
more become available as time moves on. From a wide variety of guns (including a perfect
vaporizing ray, a homage to George Pal's 1953 version of War of the Worlds) to
telepathic powers used to manipulate his environment, there's never a dull moment.
With a well set-up and easy to master control scheme in use, you're never lost as to what
offensive maneuvers are needed. While basic defense is as always just strafing, the more
damage you cause (and the more authorities are alerted to your presence), the bigger the
battle. At the worst, government agents begin using your own weapons against you.
When that happens and the opportunity permits, hop into your UFO
and blow up everything. Tanks, mobile missile launchers, and hicks with shotguns will all
try to take you down. The early going doesn't provide much outside basic ray firing, but
when the ship's repertoire increases, so does the fun factor. That's because of a slow
learning curve that eases players into the game instead of overwhelming them in the first
Once the main missions are complete, you're free to roam about, telepathically
controlling, throwing, and duplicating people at your will. If that's too boring, sap out
some brain stems for DNA (also used as cash for bigger weapons) or wander around looking
for side missions. There's plenty to do, though some of the stages repeat too many times.
There are graphical issues that are more than enough to knock it down a notch. Draw-in is
aggravating, especially when you land to find a group of agents waiting to sap your
limited life away. They popped up on screen mere moments before you landed. It's worse in
the UFO, though the ground fight is impacted too. It's an otherwise great package, filled
with textures that mimic the overblown airbrushed movie posters from the era, plenty of
town life, and fantastic particle effects.
There's little doubt the soundtrack could use some more
orchestration, as the repetitive "eerie UFO" theme is aggravating. Making up for
that is great voice work that adds to the kitschy feel, family friendly fare, and
rebellious Elvis fans the decade will be known for. Krypto himself spouts off a few puns
as he lays waste, and opening conversation with the cow is enough to begin the game right.
It's obvious the designers know the era they're working with and the films. During one
mission, you can actually "watch" a sequence from Plan 9 playing at the
drive in, while taking a break from the action. That or you can continue on your path to
worldwide destruction while everyone else sits through one of the best bad movies ever
made. It's not total freedom and the mission structure is linear, but there's enough
entertainment value to keep you playing without feeling restricted completely.