Crypto's back and this time he's got the groove.
Whoever played last year's Destroy All Humans! enjoyed a great action adventure game filled with fun bits and bites into 1950's United States cultural background. From the nuclear paranoia to the American economic power after World War II, basically everything was touched, and thoroughly destroyed.
A year and change after, Destroy All Humans! 2 is released by Pandemic Studios, the same company responsible for Mercenaries and Star Wars Battlefront. Far from being a worse game than the original one, Crypto's second foray into human destruction doesn't have the same charm as before.
After the final showdown between Crypto and the super robot at the of Destroy All Humans!, the big-headed alien assumes the role of the president of the United States and controls the country from the White House. Ten years later, it's 1969, and the hippie movement is at its peak and free love is all around. Crypto is throwing a huge party at the White House, when he finds out that the Furon mothership, along with Pox, his boss, is destroyed by a warhead launched by none other than the Soviet Union. Luckily (or unluckily for Crypto), Pox manages to survive the blast, at least in a sort of way, by transplanting his soul to a cybernetic machine. Unfortunately, all the Furon genetic material collected during the last game was lost, and now Crypto is responsible for re-stocking the genetic mount and most importantly, find out who was really behind the attack, and destroy them (what else?). With that in mind, he will travel across the world, finding all the stereotypes of the time while causing mayhem: hippies camping out in the U.S.A, super spies walking around in the U.K, ninjas in Japan and whatever the heck was around at the U.S.S.R. at the time.
Some changes were made to the Destroy All Humans gameplay system in order to make it more dynamic. Crypto can now get into dialogues with secondary characters other than Pox and get missions from them as well. New weapon updgrades can also be collected after successful missions and throughout the maps during free-roaming - this makes exploring the various maps more rewarding, since maxing out the most useful weapons and abilities is recommended toward the end levels of the game. Along with the story-based missions, Crypto has to please the Furon 'mojo' god Arkvoodoo, who's always looking for new followers. In these missions, people need to be convinced to join the sex god's cause - some are easily convinced after some dialogue, while others ask for favors in exchange for their support. Another task that needs to be done for Arkvoodoo is activating the various pedestals scattered across the maps - by completing simple tasks like random destruction or cleaning, a new landing zone for the UFO is opened, thus giving more escape routes for tough situations.
Combat is basically unaltered for the previous game. Crypto can jump and gain some air thanks to his portable jet pack, use his mental powers and has an expanded choice of weaponry at his disposal - both for on foot and saucer situations, all of which can be upgraded and expanded during the game. Old favorites like the Death Ray and the Anal Probe are back, along with the new Dislocator, a gun that fires discs that once attached to an enemy (both organic or not), will crash randomly into objects, causing massive damage. UFO flying remains with the same core gameplay as in the previous game, with minor changes that make battles much easier than before. By using the saucer's Abducto Beam on enemy and civilian vehicles, the ship's shields can be recharged, making the refill item hunt from the past game useless, which is a plus. On the weapons side, just like the ones for on foot combat, there are additions. While not as impacting as the ones mentioned above, the overall weapon group is well sorted and balanced.
The stealth play is changed: now called body snatching, Crypto can now spend a limited time with a human body before it disintegrates, without the possibility of refilling health like before. While this brings a bigger challenge to playing the game, it does become annoying when the time runs out and Crypto is in the middle of an unpopulated area. Along with this new twist, depending on what type of person is snatched, Crypto can use the emergency phones found on the levels in order to bring the 'heat' down - by either snatching a police officer or military body. The snatching per se has its dangers - while in it, any suspicious behavior will be noted by passers, requiring some 'mental distractions' in order not to attract too much attention from authorities. Human snatching plays another role, on a genetic side - while in the saucer, people can be abducted using the Adbucto Beam, in order to harvest their DNA. Each type of person, ranging from cops to hippies, has their unique kind of genetic material. This material can then be mixed in the 'gene blender' in order to acquire updates to Crypto's abilities or minor updates like faster body-snatching for particular types of people.
Like before, the game's humor is one of its highlights. Unfortunately, the game doesn't sport a great comedic content as Destroy All Humans! - since there's a lot more material to be explored for the time, and the game tries to take cues from everything, which leaves room for improvement, since some of the mentioned cues are more superficial than others, unbalancing the equation between funny and cheesy. A fine line. Most of the humor is again provided by the voice cast for Pox and Crypto. Crypto sounds as much Jack Nicholson as before, and Pox's actor takes a lot of what he does in the Billy and Mandy cartoons to his performance in the game. The secondary voices, however, are stale, and most of the mind reading throughout the game will sound boring and not very emotive.
Graphically, Destroy All Humans! 2 doesn't disappoint in comparison to the crop of games in the current generation of consoles. The primary characters look great and the scenery is mostly detailed well. While secondary, civilian and enemy characters tend to be less detailed and in that limited visually, it's nothing that hasn't been seen on similar games like Hulk Ultimate Destruction. Some of the secondary characters that play an important part in certain parts of the game, like the Russian spy, look a lot worse in the in-game graphics engine in comparison to their pre-rendered video counterparts. The game's worse graphical defect is the draw in, and while flying around in the UFO this effect is notoriously visible - the hardware can't keep up with the software. This is stronger in the Playstation 2 version of the game, and while it keeps up with the Xbox version visually, this problem tends to be far worse on that system.
The game does sport some replay, and like the previous game, most of it will be for revisiting levels with new abilities, in order to collect items and artifacts. Along with the artifacts, bonus movies and stills are unlocked, varying from production photos to gag videos. Most of the material is worth the effort, and for the hardcore player, 100% takes a while to be reached, considering the massive amount of item variety and collectibles to be found. The overall time with the game can be estimated to around twenty hours, and the main story mode is quickly finished if no exploration and side-questing is done, clocking in at about six to eight hours to beat, depending on how many reloads are required.
While Destroy All Humans! 2 isn't as great as the past title, it does hold up with the competition and is worth checking out. Fans of the first game have no reason not to avoid this one. New players to the series might consider giving the first game a try as well after playing this one.