Review - Destroy All Humans 2: Reprobed
Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Available On: Xbox Series X|S, PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 5
Review Console: PlayStation 5
ABDUCT ME, BABY! - Introduction
Did you know Destroy All Humans, as a franchise, boasts four original titles? I didn’t. Of course, that count doesn’t include 2020’s remake or whatever the hell that multiplayer spin-off aimed to accomplish. The series as a whole had humble beginnings back in 2005, with both the initial entry and its sequel being generally well-received. Ironically, they were also published by THQ. That said, it’s somewhat poetic that after purchasing the assets of a bankrupt company, Embracer Group renamed Koch Media, giving them the moniker of THQ Nordic. Lately, we’ve seen a big revisitation of a bygone era to varying degrees of success. For example, the 2020 revamped iteration, to date, has sold a million. There’s an evident appetite from Millennials wanting to experience childhood in their 30s. Gen Z also seems semi-interested in what we older folks once deemed fun. So, how’s DAH2 going to fare?
ARE YOU LAUGHING!? - Writing
In no universe, pun intended, should the narrative be taken seriously. It’s a hodge-podge of silly quips and sexual innuendoes that pulls out legitimate laughter from my cold, dead heart. There are pop culture references galore, and while, sure, they’re dated since the script has seen zero alterations, it remains a delight. The comedy doesn’t fall into the trap of being forced. Jokes, for the most part, happen naturally, fitting the charismatic energy given to all the characters. Granted, nothing is flawless, and that rhetoric applies to this title, but the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s essential I note the subjectivity of that - what I may find funny might be groan-inducing to others. If horny aliens or awful accents that feed into archetypes of their place of origin sound stupid, our opinions will differ. In its defence, the ridiculousness is never in-your-face.
Subtlety is something Destroy All Humans 2 utilizes efficiently. For instance, anything that touches on the sexual aspect isn’t usually tied to the main plotline. If you so choose, it’s possible to skip out on having to listen to most of that depravity. That’s right, there are dialogue choices, but they don’t take on a crucial role. None of them has a tangible impact on the story and how it progresses forward. Their one reason to exist is to provide extra exposition that contributes heavily to the humour. What also has a helping hand in that are the relationships. Whether it’s starting a cult with ranks full of hippies or fighting the KGB alongside various characters, like a lethal Russian vixen, it’s always a Goddamn laugh. In this day and age, it’s all a cliche, but the fact it commits to the lunacy is why it works.
Now, I’m not going to get into specific details about what occurs because, quite frankly, it’s something that needs to be witnessed firsthand. Still, I want to place the bar and manage the expectations coming into it. There won’t be a grandiose tale with twists and turns that blow your mind. There definitely won’t be any profound meaning to be discerned between the lines. What there is, however, is a surprising bit of organic growth with the characters. That’s right, some tangible developments. Sure, it won’t be substantial, but it’s enough to tug you along. Again, it warrants repeating; the comedy is absolute gold. At times, it resembles a corny as hell B-movie with how it delivers jokes. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that this is a case of being so bad that it’s kind of really awesome, but it certainly teeters on that rope.
PICK A GUN, ANY GUN! - Gameplay
There’s a robust variety of weaponry that our little alien friend, Crypto, can wield and use against the humans. Guns that incinerate them to ash or, get this, an anal probe that sparks raunchy and outlandish one-liners. For the most part, everything about them is responsive and snappy. Killing without remorse was easy and emphasized the destroying aspect of the game’s title. I did, however, note that while there’s a way to refill the ammunition for the bulk of your arsenal, one or two slip through the cracks. If there is a way to achieve this, it’s not very apparent how to go about it. It limits their usage, sullying the playground feel that Destroy All Humans 2 wants to fulfill. Not by much, mind you, but I’d be a fool, not to mention it. It doesn’t matter, though, because I preferred plugging an NPC’s ass anyway.
IT ONLY GETS BETTER! - Gameplay
There’s an upgrade system in place, too, allowing you to boost the destruction and deadliness of a gun. It’s intrinsically linked to missions in that, after finishing them, points are rewarded. By doing side objectives within each one, however, the amount it garners is bolstered, and, sure, that may sound unappealing to have further tasks to do, but it really isn’t. Not only can they be done briskly, but it never requires you to venture off the beaten path. I adore how it’s centred around the primary goal. Having it that way engages me to pay attention to what I’m doing and to be wary of my surroundings. Sometimes I’d falter and miss out, but when that happens, I get a redo. I like how in doing so, it then prompts me to decide if I’d like to implement any gameplay modifiers. It’s minor but happily accepted.
OLDER GAME IDEALS! - Gameplay
A positive result of Destroy All Humans 2 retaining the core identity is it comes equipped with old-school sensibilities. One of those is a plethora of collectibles scattered throughout the various locales. The goodies they bring include granting you even more points to invest in improving weapons, artwork, and posters geared towards expanding on the in-game world. It fleshes out details, giving it believability as a living, breathing place. I was giddy by it, and luckily, there are trackers to lessen the burden of searching every corner of the map for those. The caveat is that it isn’t overly practical. For it to react to nearby collectibles, I had to almost be on top of it. With such a wide open area, it got tiresome, flying aimlessly and hoping to stumble upon something. Coloured blips appearing on the minimap are needed.
YOU LOOK GREAT! - Presentation
If we compare this version with the PS2 classic, the difference is night and day - it got an extensive bloody facelift. The effort put forth into bringing the visuals into a new decade pays off but isn’t going to match up with Triple-A titles. Still, Destroy All Humans 2 deserves props for what it achieves. The environments are no longer bland or lifeless. The colours are vibrant, popping off the screen with their brightness, punching you in the eye. The models are pretty damn detailed, but I saw a tiny hiccup. See, Crypto has a selection of costumes we can unlock. Some have hats that stick out quite far. Suppose you wear one of them. Well, do that, and his ray gun clips through. At the end of the day, though, I’m a sucker for these graphics and the cartoonish aesthetic it nails.
ARE YOU STUCK?! - Performance
Unfortunately, for as much praise as I’m heaping on, there are a handful of mishaps. For example, there were instances where I'd see NPCs T-posing and not moving an inch. I did, however, note a correlation between that and my PS5 heating up after having a prolonged play session. As such, upon restarting and jumping back in, everything sorted itself out. I also had cutscenes that were slightly wonky. Nothing egregious, but as I’d been accepting a mission, there were ninjas behind the quest giver, jumping around but doing so in a floaty manner. Then again, maybe that was to illustrate how light on their feet they are. One thing is sure, the frame rate is rock hard, and it rarely wavers. I say that since you guessed it, when it heats up, that isn’t the case, dipping a smidge before bouncing back.
PROPER ALIEN SCORE! - Sound Design
The area-to-area music in Destroy All Humans 2 won’t particularly win awards. However, it continues the trend of mimicking a B-movie with a reminiscent soundtrack. I have to say, it’s superb as background musings, complimenting gameplay nicely. The real standout is the fantastic voice acting. Sure, nothing about it has been altered from the 2006 release, but it is incredible. The campiness persists with accents that add so much to the funny and sometimes eye-rolling humour. Thanks to the updates made to the character models, the cadence and delivery better match. It isn’t easy to articulate appropriately, but it fits. My one complaint, and it’s not even really that, is Crypto. It took me a while to warm up to his methodical and slow manner of speech. No mistaking that fans will be eased in by familiarity. Those coming in with fresh eyes, gleefulness awaits.
SAY THAT AGAIN!? - Sound Design
I wish I could end on a high note, pun intended, but regrettably, I can’t. To be fair, though, the technical blunders I’m about to list off are microscopic. For instance, there were a sporadic bunch of cutscenes with sound effects inconspicuously absent. It isn’t a widespread issue and seems concentrated on roars - roaring does indicate scary creatures, so I get it. Like many of the problems I highlighted, it also sorts itself rather quickly. That won’t negate how awkward it is when tension is trying to manifest, and as monsters are seconds from howling, only silence comes out. In that respect, I guess it pays further homage to the B-movie atmosphere it so evidently emulates. There are also cases of vocal clips repeating tiny portions of dialogue. I can’t help but think that maybe overheating is a culprit in these audio trips.
AND THE PROBING VERDICT IS…
Destroy All Humans 2 is an unadulterated romp of sheer ecstasy. Every second that I invested was met with a grin. Electrocuting civilians and taking over the bodies of hippies was bliss for me. Being able to satiate my kamikaze desires remains a facet I adore. If you’re worried, there’s nothing grotesque. Again, it’s cartoony to a tee. It’s important to know that if you were there in 2006, there’s no additional content. It’s only more visually impressive, but for that reason alone, I reckon it hits differently. Facial features are pronounced, and the animations don’t resemble a struggling older man with arthritis. For anyone in their early 30s with fond memories of Mario 64 or Spyro, DAH2 scratches the itch. The best part is it isn’t a full-priced purchase, retailing at a paltry $39.99Cdn. Stop reading my inane rambling, and go buy the damn game.
Special thanks to THQ Nordic for providing the code used for this coverage.