AS a kid who spent the majority of the sixth generation of video game consoles with only a Gamecube, titles that were only on the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox were games I only got to experience for short periods when visiting friends or family.
Although I was largely satiated by the vast array of games I played on those consoles across the years, there were also a small batch of games I’d seen at retailers or read about in magazines that I never managed to experience.
One such franchise I can remember my young mind obsessing over was Destroy All Humans!, a crude yet humorous series that was a fair bit more inappropriate than the games I was playing on my Gamecube at the time.
Even though it took me more than 15 years to play a Destroy All Humans! game, I can finally say that I have, as I recently made my way through Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, a remake of the second game in the series.
Set in 1969, a decade on from the events of the first game, the story places you in the shoes of Cryptosporidium-138, otherwise known as Crypto (no, not the currency) an alien invader from the planet Furon, as he follows in the footsteps of his deceased predecessor Cryptosporidium-137 in assuming the role as the President of the United States of America.
The ability Furon’s have to appear as humans has led to them controlling the White House, but in doing so they’ve been recognised by Soviet intelligence as a grave danger to the Soviet Union.
Desperate to not end up like the Americans, the Soviets attempt to swiftly take the Furons out, destroying the species mothership and attempting to assassinate Crypto. The missile attack on the mothership sees it completely destroyed and the Furon Emperor Orthopox killed, just after he manages to download his mind into a Holopox unit.
Thankfully for Crypto, he manages to survive the attack on his life, and through the assistance of his hologram leader and new found friends along the way, sets off on a globetrotting journey to eradicate the Soviet threat, uncovering conspiracies in the process.
Once you experience the world and characters of Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, it’s clear that the narrative isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, instead serving as a silly story that is entertaining enough to keep you invested in the game between missions.
In saying that though, despite the wacky nature of it all, I still found myself invested in the plot, and what crazy twists and turns would happen next. This enjoyment stems largely from the dry personality of the protagonist Crypto.
When he’s not making advances on love interest Natalya Ivanova, a rogue KGB spy who assists him on his journey, his conversations are littered with sarcasm and snarky comments, which just gives him a carefree energy that you just can’t help but get behind. He’s a downright prick for sure, but a loveable little alien nonetheless.
Orthopox is also entertaining as a side character, with voice actor Richard Steven Horvitz providing him with a voice strikingly similar to one of his most iconic roles, Zim from the Nickelodeon series Invader Zim.
Unlike the two Furon buddies who are at least interesting, the human characters are almost entirely based on stereotypes. You’ve got your carefree hippies, your vodka loving Russians, and indubitably posh Brits to just state a few examples.
While I believe these stereotypes are intended to hammer home the silliness of the world in Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, they ultimately don’t hit as well as they might have back in 2006, as exaggerated national stereotypes are a trope that’s been done to death.
Overall though, the story of Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed is still zany enough to derive some enjoyment out of, even if it gets a bit too heavy handed with its stereotyping.
Visually, Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed looks great for the most part, and is a marked improvement on the visual aesthetic of the original release. The world is absolutely packed with colour, featuring far more variety in colour than its more muddied colour scheme in the original. The environments are also far more detailed, with the five open world locations brimming with far more detail than before.
The reason I stated that the game looks great for the most part is because the performance falters quite often, in fact, it’s probably one of the poorest performing games I’ve experienced on the PS5. When things are working as intended and the game is maintaining a steady frame rate, it looks absolutely gorgeous, but that can change almost instantly, with frame drops, constant pop-in of assets and near constant screen tearing considerably hampering the experience.
When it comes to explaining the gameplay, I feel like an accurate description is that it’s a Grand Theft Auto clone (which were all the rage in the PS2/Xbox era) with a sci-fi twist.
You make your way through five open-level sandboxes, either on your own or with a friend via couch co-op, completing story missions that take place within each environment, utilising the vast array of weaponry and special abilities Crypto has at his disposal to get the job done.
As the game title suggests, most missions see you using your alien tech to kill pesky humans who get in your way, but some also see you enlisting the help of human allies. Sometimes you must use Crypto’s special powers, such as his ability to read the minds of humans to track down a specific person or location of interest.
The body snatcher ability is also one you’ll come to use often, not only allowing you to inhabit the body of humans to sneak past unsuspecting enemies, but also to reach areas you may have otherwise needed to use your weapons to get to.
Speaking of weapons, combat is reminiscent of action platformers like Ratchet and Clank, albeit a fair amount less competent. There are various weapons to toy with throughout the roughly 10-15 hour experience, with new weapons drip-fed to the player in an attempt to keep things fresh.
Despite new weapons becoming available as the experience chugs along, the lack of incentive to use each weapon means that you’re very likely to just stick with two or three weapons that feel comfortable to you.
While I could see the humour in the anal probe weapon that attacks the booty of your enemies, or the Dislocator that sees your foe bounce off the walls and floors before their demise, the reality was that weapons such as the Disintegrator Ray was not only more simple to use, but also far more effective.
The issue of picking favourites is further compounded by Crypto’s awesome albeit overpowered transmogrify ability that allows you to convert nearby objects into ammunition. In summary, combat is still fun for the most part, but it does begin to feel a bit stale and samey when you reach the latter half of the adventure.
The same can also be said when using Crypto’s flying saucer, which is used in some story missions, but also can be used in free roam between missions.
What isn’t fun, however, are the boss fights that occur at the end of each open world level, as they often result in unwelcome difficulty spikes that just end up making an already annoying experience all the more frustrating.
When not in missions, these open world locations are free to be explored. Seeing as Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed is a remake of a 2006 PS2/Xbox game, the open world environments aren’t exactly as littered with additional content as modern day open world experiences.
There are still optional objectives to complete though, with side-quests providing optional missions for those that didn’t get their fill from the core missions required to progress the narrative. Collectibles are also interspersed through each level, with artwork and jukebox songs just some of the items available for completionists (like me) to track down.
Hopping into your flying saucer is also worth doing in between missions, as you can use furotech cells which are earnt completing missions and also found in each level to upgrade weapons. You are also incentivised to fly around in your saucer collecting humans, as collecting a certain amount of particular types of human (KGB Agents, Scientists, etc) allows you to further upgrade Crypto’s aforementioned special abilities.
Despite gameplay being decent enough, it’s often full of frustration because of how consistently poor the game runs, to the point where it’s pretty much indefensible. Screen tearing is visible for pretty much the entire experience, and I’ve never experienced screen tearing this extreme on a console title ever before.
If that doesn’t take you out of the experience somehow, the persistent blurriness and pop in of assets in cutscenes likely will, with it also a prominent issue that never seems to not rear its ugly head.
And if for some reason your immersion hasn’t been shattered yet, the audio problems in cutscenes are sure to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Sound effects that should play in cutscenes often just don’t play at all, leading to awkward moments where an entertaining cutscene quickly becomes a laughable affair. Where this hit home for me the most was the cutscene before the final boss, which if played as intended would’ve been a welcome intro into the final fight of the game, but instead made me laugh in embarrassment as a result of no sound effects backing up the action on screen.
Although I had moments of fun with Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed, I can’t really recommend it given its sizable list of performance issues. I’m sure a patch will likely arrive sometime soon and whittle away most of the tech problems I’ve mentioned, but in the state it’s in right now, even as someone often tolerant to performance hiccups, I simply can’t with confidence suggest you pick it up just yet, even more so considering the game overall doesn’t exactly set the world on fire to begin with.
If you’re nostalgic for the simpler times of gaming back in the PS2 and Xbox era, then Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed may still be worth visiting, however do wait for a patch or be ready to wade your way through a myriad of issues.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron