Humor is one of those tricky things that’s best done right or not at all. In the case of Destroy All Humans 2, the sequel to Pandemic’s novel offering of a year ago, the humor is well done, if by well done you mean butchered and burned to a crisp. Where the original was saved from mediocrity by its satirical charm, the sequel’s forced gags actually work against it, making THQ’s latest alien invasion feel like just another day in the trailer park.
And that’s really all you need to know, because the rest of the game is the same as the original: a by turns fun and frustrating action romp as a little green man, with familiar gameplay and missions. There’s no extra, this game is just plain old terrestrial.
Set in the sixties, the story is rife with hippies, KGB agents and more saving of humans than actually destroying them. The plot is hardly intriguing, but it’s not a deal breaker, either. The dialog, though, is noxiously bad, yet the game seems to think it’s utterly hilarious, because it never stops bombarding you with terrible one-liners. You play Crypto, the alien Rodney Dangerfield, sent to earth to kill humanity with bad stand-up. You don’t get no respect, but then again, you don’t really deserve any.
The gameplay is much the same as it was in the original. You have your blow-stuff-up missions, your standard fetch quests and a dose of escort and protect missions. You also get to fly around in your saucer, zapping people’s DNA and wreaking havoc. The difficulty is uneven throughout, and you’re bound to encounter some especially infuriating missions (the escort/protect ones being the main offender) sandwiched between cakewalks. When you die, you’re often placed right where you croaked with replenished ammo, but other times you’re sent all the way back to the start of the quest.
While the stealth missions from the first game are almost entirely absent (thankfully!), Crypto still needs to snatch bodies to get around, and this gets a little irritating. When you snatch a human suit, the illusion only lasts a short time, so you have to keep snatching bodies over and over. It just doesn’t seem necessary. The game also seems to have fallen in love with button-mashing. Want to run around? Mash a button. Snatch a body? Mash another. Use your PK powers? You get the idea.
That’s not to say Destroy All Humans 2 isn’t without its merits. The weapons you’re given are varied and fun to use, such as the Dislocator, which tosses people about until dead or the Meteor Strike, which calls upon space rocks to do your bidding. There is also a handy weapon upgrade system that soups up your guns for you in exchange for cells that are scattered throughout the levels. You’ll have fun tossing humans about and literally rocking their world, just like in the first game.
There are a number of side-quests that add playability, and a co-op mode that lets you and a buddy tackle the game via split screen, so there’s more to do than just run through the middling single player story mode. Vaporizing everything in sight with a friend is definitely more fun than ruining humanity all by yourself, although it doesn’t really last because the missions themselves are so uninspired.
And so are the graphics. Everything looks average, from the special effects to the vehicles, on both the Xbox and the PS2. However, while Crypto and the alien characters look relatively decent, the humans look like something out of a Dreamcast game. I know the developers sacrifice the number of polygons to put more people on screen at the same time, but some of the character models are laughably bad. No wonder the aliens want to destroy them.
The locales include Bay City (think San Francisco), Takoshima (Japan) and Albion (London) but all are quite nondescript. At least the cheesey music and B movie sound effects make the game sound better than it looks. The voice acting isn’t bad, but the actors don’t have much to work with.
Destroy All Humans 2 is a very average action game that’s only funny when it isn’t trying to be. Vaporizing humans and terrorizing cities in a big flying saucer is still fun, but the missions are decidedly of this world. Without the charm of the original, Destroy All Humans 2 won’t be anybody’s favorite Martian.