The PS2-era of video games was defined by wacky and original titles, especially compared to what we see in the gaming industry today. It was a wonderful time, and during that period of time is when the Destroy All Humans franchise appeared. Now, after remaking the first game in the series back in 2020, Black Forest is back with a new, fancy-looking remake of the bigger and wilder sequel. And while it has some technical flaws, it’s still a wonderful alien-themed blast from the past.
The original Destroy All Humans! 2 was released back in 2006 for the PS2 and Xbox. It was developed by Pandemic, the same studio that developed the first game in the franchise, along with the original Star Wars Battlefront games. Like the first game, DAH2 lets you step into the tiny silver boots of an alien invader on Earth who has access to a growing arsenal of strange alien weapons and even has his own personal UFO, complete with a powerful death ray. While the first game was set in the 50s and was heavily inspired by alien movies of that era, DAH2 is set in the 60s and expands its parodies to more film genres and general jokes about hippies, the start of the cold war, and cults. Also, now the main alien of the game has genitalia, and boy howdy, does he love to make jokes about it.
Like the first Destroy All Humans remake, this new and improved version of DAH2 was developed by Black Forest and is a true remake, featuring a brand new engine and entirely new textures and models. And it’s a damn good-looking game. At times, when I was jetpacking around the various levels, destroying humans, of course, I would stop and just soak in the wonderful views that exist in this game. The lighting in particular is often gorgeous, reminding me more of an animated film than an open-world PS2 game. And the game contains lots of little details, like how characters get coated in dirt when walking in mud and then leave muddy footprints around.
Though these improved visuals come at a cost. The game sometimes has framerate issues in busy scenes, plus some screen tearing and hitching in large parts of cities. It’s not unplayable, but it does stick out occasionally.
The story behind this alien adventure is that a decade after the events of the first game, the Russian KGB have somehow figured out what happened and have attacked the Furon invaders’ mothership, wrecking their plans to take over the world and steal DNA from humans to help rebuild their species. Naturally, Crypto (the alien you play as) and his boss fight back against the KGB and begin to learn more about Russia’s history with aliens as they fly around the globe, visiting and destroying various famous cities, like San Francisco and London.
Just as with the first remake, DAH2: Reprobed reuses the audio files from the original, and as result, it ends up being a fairly faithful recreation. Maybe too faithful? There are definitely some missions and activities that feel wonky, like something you’d play in a PS2-era open-world game, which I guess makes sense, since this is basically…a PS2-era open-world game. Also, some jokes and dialogue feel a bit out of place and dated in 2022, something the game even warns you of before you start. Luckily, you can skip all the dialogue and cutscenes in DAH2 if you just want to blow up buildings with your UFO or anal probe humans.
While its story and general mission structure remain unchanged, Black Forest has done a lot to improve the combat to make it feel more modern and responsive. You shoot with the right trigger and aim with the left trigger, while the sticks react to your movement like you’d expect from any good third-person shooter released in 2022. As Crypto, you have access to a large weapon wheel of destruction, including lightning guns, plasma rifles, anal probin’ weapons, and even a “Free Love” ray that can force every human around you to start dancing and is useful for escaping sticky situations.
And all of this stuff, plus your shield, jetpack, and hover boots, can be upgraded over time as you visit new cities and complete missions. Sure, nothing groundbreaking, but the progression is fun and after a few hours I felt more powerful and badass than I did at the start.
Most missions involve a mix of big firefights, a bit of physics fun, and some light stealth — you are an alien after all and people will call the cops if they spot you. Thankfully, no mission in the game takes longer than a few minutes to complete and with all the weapons and abilities at your disposal, missions can be completed in many different ways without getting boring or stale. Each mission also has at least one optional objective that gives you extra upgrade resources for doing something like “Kill 10 cops” or “Blow up five hippie vans.”
Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed doesn’t reinvent the wheel or shake up the original sequel’s formula too much and that’s fine by me. In a lot of ways, it was nice to have a wacky open-world game that doesn’t feel too big and overstuffed, featuring a map with a million icons. It’s the kind of game that will take most folks only 20 hours or so to beat, not 200 hours. And most of that time will be spent having fun and doing silly things, like fighting mutants or placing hippie trucks on roofs to start a cult.
It’s not a game for everyone, but if you miss that era of wacky and weird PS2 originals, this is a faithful and modern remake of one of the best of that era. Let’s just hope they improve some of the performance issues in a future patch.
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