Let’s go back to a much simpler time, to when TVs were square and heavy, like mom’s spaghetti (all the cool kids were listening to Eminem back then). And there I was, sitting in front my curved, twenty inch Magnavox screen, PS2 controller in hand, ready to play a game called Destroy All Humans! 2.
Ok, I have to come clean. That story was a lie. I never actually played Destroy All Humans 2 on the PS2. I did, however, spend most of my winter break playing Metal Gear Solid 2. Boy that was a great time to be alive. I didn’t even mind Raiden as the protagonist, I just simply loved the game and the series. Before we digress further and I continue to ramble like an old man, let’s move on to the game at hand.
Since I didn’t play the original game, I have no frame of reference to compare it to. I can only compare it to other open world games that I’ve played, and I must admit, this is a fantastically silly and fun game to play.
Right from the get go, you are hit in the face with peak 2000s humor. The cut scenes and dialogue are full of puns, innuendos, sarcasm, and referential humor that definitely does feel dated. People who’ve played the original will probably feel a pleasant sense of nostalgia while the humor may not translate as well for the younger generation. I found it to be refreshingly silly in a world that’s becoming more devoid of any humor.
Some things were definitely changed when compared to the original PS2 release however. According to some of my friends who were watching me play, some of the cut scenes and even some boss fights were modified from the original. For example, the fight against the hippie Bongwater (what a name) takes place in an underground warehouse in the original. In the remake, the setting looks like a fanciful slice out of something like Willie Wonka’s factory. The changes didn’t feel like a detriment to me at all but others looking for a more pure form of nostalgia may be turned off. In my honest opinion though, the changes, at least for the set pieces, were an improvement. The game just looks and feels better and more alive.
As for other changes, according to the reviews I’ve read, some odd jobs and free roam missions were removed and some of the weapons seem to be nerfed when compared to the original. Since I have nothing to compare it to as a new player, I found these changes to be acceptable.
As for playing the game, the game play still stands up to the test of time! The world, although a bit on the small side (that’s definitely not what she said), feels alive and colorful. The limitation is understandable as the game was created on the PS2. You can go around and read the minds of NPCs resulting in hilarious lines of dialogue. The mechanics for possessing bodies, using weapons, wreaking havoc, or playing the game stealthily all feel seamless and fun. As a side note, it still blows my mind that this game existed on the PS2. If you deconstruct the mechanics of the game, they are definitely simple but the way the developers implemented them into the game and made them feel so smooth is pretty darn amazing to me.
It’s also been a while since I played a game that didn’t take itself too seriously and made every task super mundane and tedious for the sake of padding out game play time or hiding every mechanic behind a meter for that constant dopamine drip of progression that seems to plague modern game design. It’s just simple, silly fun going around reading minds, taking over bodies, throwing humans around (or probing them), or hopping into your saucer and burning the town down.
When you aren’t destroying all the humans, you can go around and find all the collectables and upgrade materials or just go through the main mission. There seems to be a perfect amount of collectables spread around where you won’t have to go crazy searching every nook and cranny.
The missions feel pretty fleshed out, with voice acted cut scenes and different set pieces. The boss fights feel pretty unique and always saturated with that good ole sense of humor.
When comparing this game to other open world games I’ve played, such as GTA, Saint’s Row, and etc., Destroy All Humans! 2 does feel a bit limited in scope but not in game play. The world is definitely smaller and has less things to do but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of being overwhelmed with a huge number of unnecessary and repetitive tasks, the game has just the right amount of distractions. And instead of having a huge world empty world, having a smaller world keeps the game play focused.
The tone of Destroy All Humans! 2 is definitely similar to that of Saint’s Row the Third, which happens to be one of my favorite games of all time. I love games that don’t take itself too seriously because games are supposed to be fun. I am definitely not opposed to games being serious or tackling serious themes and emotions but it’s definitely much more difficult to do those things well. I can’t count the number of games I’ve played that try to be serious and fall flat. A small injection of self awareness and embracing humor can go a long way.
Overall, I’d have to say that Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed is a fantastic game. It’s not an exact one to one replica of the original but honestly speaking it does feel improved when looking back at clips of the original PS2 game. The game is fun, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and never takes itself too seriously. As my friend says all the time, “I’m here for a fun time, not a long time” and it has honestly been a long while since I played a game that simply embraced the fun.