When alien-enthusiast gamers set up a home-brew distress beacon, calling to the stars for a sandbox-style game with a Weekly World News twist, Pandemic Studios answered with Destroy All Humans!, a unique and destructive 2005 romp planted in the shoes of wise-cracking alien Crypto. A year and some change later and it's back to the extra-terrestrial grind with Destroy All Humans! 2, setting out to prove once again that anally probing humans never gets old.
It's business as usual for our half-pint Jack Nicholson impersonator, who's spent the between-game duration living it up with the ladies and posing as the United States president. Neglected duty kicks him in the ass, however, when he ends up facing the red threat of Russians looking to heat up the Cold War. This is where the action picks up, throwing the player right into a zap-heavy brawl with some KGB agents.
The mechanics remain simple enough, and considering the amount of things that Crypto can do, both in and out of his flying saucer, you'll rarely find yourself fumbling about on the controller or mashing buttons in frustration. Like the first outing, you can body snatch humans and run around in their skin. This would be more of a nuisance if you couldn't instantly quell the alarm of frantic onlookers by putting them in a psychedelic trance; dashing away as they sway to some mock hippie tunes. At the same time, body snatching will quickly become a detriment to players looking for a more free-form experience. It's hard to take the time to enjoy exploring any of the locales when you're constantly peeling in and out of bodies that can't do nearly as much as Crypto can on his own, and if you decide to run around "naked," you'll be swatting away tanks and other defenders of Earth in no time.
Destroy All Humans! 2 ultimately ends up being is a pretty standard direct continuation of the last game, but don't let anyone tell you that it isn't at all improved.
Did I mention the hippie music already? Yeah, it's the 60s now, in case you were wondering. Where the first game managed to find charm in its setting, though, the sequel's just seems to add to the forced humor. This is where the ridiculous nature of your alien journey comes in handy. Since the story is all over the place, so is Crypto. With this in mind, you end up with a decent amount of visual variety that helps keep things from getting stale too quickly. As soon as you tire of, say, the Bay Area level in which you start, you'll be whisked away to the other side of the ocean.
What Destroy All Humans! 2 ultimately ends up being is a pretty standard direct continuation of the last game, but don't let anyone tell you that it isn't at all improved. Pandemic has wiped away a good deal of the minor annoyances throughout, making returning features that much more enjoyable. Along with the aforementioned improvement on body snatching, the much-celebrated flying saucer segments are polished to a smoother shine. Now you can pick up other vehicles and suck them of whatever juice they hold to replenish your health at any point. There's nothing more satisfying in the game than laying waste from above like some idol in the sky raining wrath.
All of the good here, and there's enough to warrant at least giving the game a few spins on a rental, ends up coming at the price of repetition. As fun as it is to run around and thrash our puny planet with Crypto's arsenal, and as much as I appreciate the varying locations, there's only so much a man can take of fetching, scanning, and engaging in increasingly familiar fire-fights. This is only compounded by voice-over comedy that runs the gamut from the sort-of-funny to the "Why does Crypto have to talk at all?" school of humor. It says a lot about the dialogue when one of your reply options is just "Make smart-aleck remark." Exchanges are rarely very funny, and are thankfully quickly forgotten once you leave a cutscene and start getting back into the action.
You veterans might not need to play this if you dug deeply into the original, but you'll probably still want to. To those that are coming in fresh, though, it's advisable to try it out before you make any hasty investments. Destroy All Humans! 2 is groovy enough to warrant its sequel status, but here's hoping this alien will start singing a different tune if he ever beams down to the next generation.