In fact, the first game did just about everything better. Let’s start with the graphics. Destroy all Humans wasn’t an amazing looking title even by 2005 standards, but I’m sure it didn’t look as bad as this. The 70s appears to be an era of poorly textured, blocky architecture and clumsy character models, with some of the rough edges just about smoothed over by half-decent lighting effects, but not nearly enough to stop you from suspecting that you’re playing a three-year-old PS2 game. We went a bit soft on the original by not moaning too much about the lack of properly destructible environments, but now I’m less inclined to be so generous. If we’re dishing out death from a flying saucer we want to see buildings explode in flaming chunks of concrete and shards of shattering glass, not collapse in a feeble animation. We want to be able to throw the feeble humans through windows and telephone boxes, not watch as they bump against glass without leaving a mark. In terms of technology, this isn’t even yesterday’s game – it’s the game that’s been hanging around at the back of the fridge for a week and has now developed an alarming smell.
Nor is the gameplay looking any fresher. The structure is broadly the same as before: Crypto lands his flying saucer in a new area, travels to beacons on the map and opens main story missions (succeeding in one opens up another) or side-quests (completing them to help Crypto power up his weapons and his saucer) then goes on to the next area. While roaming about, Crypto is also free to cause what mayhem he can, either on foot or in his saucer using a variety of death rays and disintegration beams. However, the more destruction Crypto dishes out, the more cops and army tanks he’ll have on his trail and the less chance he has of surviving unless he waits out of sight while the heat cools down.
The problem is that the missions aren’t so well conceived or executed this time around. A lot of the stuff with hypnotising or abducting humans seems to have gone out of the window. There’s still a fair bit of body-snatching, where Crypto possesses a human host for a while, but the missions involved are either so woefully simplistic that they’re impossible to fail or so badly designed that they’re almost as difficult to complete. Otherwise, the emphasis seems to be squarely on destruction, with Crypto, whether on foot or in his saucer, taking out several targets in order to get on to the next stage. It’s fun for a while, but fascinating across the length of the game? Not on your nelly. The side-quests are equally unappealing, either aping Crackdown in asking you to complete tiresome ‘race to the next beacon before the time runs out’ challenges, or just giving you more of the same stuff you’re already getting in the main story missions. Dull, dull, dull.