As an eleven-year-old kid, the original Destroy All Humans had pretty much everything I could possibly ask for in a game. A huge selection of unique weapons and abilities, a destructible sandbox environment, and, of course, a healthy dose of age-inappropriate humor. The hours I would spend scanning pathetic human minds and lifting cars around with my psychic abilities are fond memories of mine, and now, fifteen years later, THQ and Black Forest Games have brought that nostalgia back in full force.
As far as remakes go, Destroy All Humans is about as true to the original as you can possibly get. While many recent remakes, such as Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy VII, revamp entire mechanics or completely change sections of the game, Black Forest Games has made a point to keep as much of the original unchanged as possible. This means you shouldn’t expect a lot of new gameplay, but what you can expect are better textures and models, various quality of life improvements, and the same great humor and writing as you remember from the original.
Destroy All Humans introduces a number of quality of life improvements that were sorely missing from the original. Small things are majorly appreciated, like the ability to skip cutscenes and a much faster saucer take-off animation, which I distinctly remember being the bane of my existence as a child with no attention span. Other more noticeable improvements include the ability to glide around on your jetpack while aiming your weapon, and a much easier to navigate mission select menu.
There are quite a few more ability upgrades in the remake than there were in 2005. While the original game featured just 16 upgrades to your weapons and powers, the 2020 remaster includes a whopping 66! You’ll recognize many of them from the original, like being able to electrocute multiple targets using the zap-o-matic, but others are completely new. Making its debut is the upgradeable S.K.A.T.E feature for your jetpack, which allows you to quickly glide across the ground making traversing the maps much faster and more fun. Like in the original, upgrades are purchased using DNA which can be gathered from human brain stems, but the remaster features a number of side missions and challenges for each location which can make acquiring DNA far more enjoyable than the grind it used to be.
Every single weapon and ability from the original make an appearance, but some have had their mechanics slightly altered. In the original, for example, you had much greater control over your psychokinesis ability as you had the option to push, pull, or throw whatever object you were carrying. In the remaster, you can only lift and throw different objects and lack the ability to fine-tune their positions. Personally, I appreciated the control from the original, but the benefit of the new system is that you can multitask much easier. In the remaster, you can lift a human with your mind while simultaneously extracting his brain and firing at enemies, something that wasn’t possible on the PlayStation 2.
Unfortunately, one remnant of the original that still plagues the remake is the bugs. While nothing I experienced was ever truly game-breaking, there were a few points in my playthrough that were annoying, immersion-breaking, or just downright frustrating. Cows randomly teleporting into the sky before falling to their deaths was a pretty common occurrence. In other instances, audio would loop nonstop creating a cacophony of screaming townsfolk, and enraged police or cutscenes wouldn’t sync up to the dialogue correctly. All in all, these events were unpolished and irritating, but they never ruined the gameplay for me.
One and a half decades later, graphics and hardware power have improved significantly and this is the most obvious change in the new Destroy All Humans. While locations like Turnipseed Farm and Santa Modesta feature nearly the exact same layouts and buildings as the original, the models have seen major upgrades. Structures are far more detailed than they ever were before and the human NPCs vary a lot more as well. For those interested, in the menu, under “Furogami”, are images of new models compared to their 2005 counterparts. As was one of the main draws of the first game, buildings and cars are all destructible and whether you’re levelling city blocks with your saucer or disrupting traffic with your ion detonator, the explosive effects will leave you starved for more chaos.
Destroy All Humans is as close to the original as you can get while still improving the experience for a new generation of consoles and players. While the main gameplay, story, and environments remain almost completely unchanged, various quality of life improvements, extended side missions, and, of course, a complete graphical overhaul makes the experience nostalgic for veterans of the series while being accessible to those who are just now meeting Cryptosporidium-137 for the first time.