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Destroy All Humans


Having spent the best part of the last quarter of a century fighting off the alien hordes, today was the day the tables were finally turned and we got to see the war on humanity through bug eyes, and we have two things to report: firstly, having big bulbous eyes doesn't mean you see anything bigger (or, you know, have automatic zoom functions/night vision or anything useful like that), and secondly, yes they can see in colour. If Eurogamer designed aliens they'd have 360-degree vision that doubled up as heat-seeking missile launchers, with missiles that ate their foes. Slowly.

Before we go off on a completely surreal tangent and abduct your frontal lobe, today's sunny adventures at Eurogamer Towers involved road-testing the latest playable preview build of Pandemic's latest off-the-wall action adventure Destroy All Humans. Originally shown off to much acclaim at last year's E3, and previewed twice already here and here, we've finally been entrusted with a five level build to properly get to grips with ahead of its June 24th release date.

Alien Nation

Just to briefly recap, a race of Alien beings known as the Furons have no genitalia. Why they have no private parts isn't entirely clear, but it's something of a hindrance if you have any intention of continuing the existence of your race. For whatever reason (no doubt explained later in the game) the only way the Furons can reproduce is by cloning themselves. The problem is, the DNA patterns in their cloning technique are becoming more degraded with each cycle, and it has been discovered that every human being carries has a strand of Furon DNA - thus it's imperative to invade Earth, do some DNA shopping and save this sarcastic alien race.

So, having finally offered an explanation as to why aliens want to invade our green planet, the chance to destroy hundreds of really quite dim Americans is actually something we took to immediately.

Given a whistle stop bunch of a smattering of levels, it's abundantly clear that DAH is very much a feel-good third-person shooter that feels quite different from much of the sci-fi war sludge we get to play. Designed very much with a smile on its face, the game kicks off on a farm, which acts as a fairly straightforward tutorial for much of the combat and controls.

Wasting no time in getting the withering asides, by then you'll have already smirked as the angry leader of the Furons has to put up with his sidekick coming out with one dumb proclamation after another, including gems such as: "There's a time for thought and a time for action and this is the time!", and a whole catalogue of quips and barbs that leave you with a smile on your face all the way through the game.

Lactating lovelies

No sooner have you landed on a farm and observed that the bovine herd are "foul-smelling gas bags covered in nipples" and proceeded to read their mind ("Moooooo!" [South Park joke -Ed]) and reason with them repeatedly before picking them up with your PK powers, dangling them around a big and flinging them with characteristic distaste for their inconsiderate lack of intellect.

All this commotion alerts the nearby farm workers to check out the scene, and armed with shotguns they waste no time in attempting to fill their friendly neighbourhood alien with lead. But armed with a Zap-O-Matic, they're soon reduced to a frazzled, shocked, limp heap - and safe to have their brain stems sucked up and collected to provide the DNA to continue the Furon race.

Control conforms to the standard, intuitive two stick third-person standard we're all familiar with, with left for movement, right for camera, left trigger for lock on targeting and right for fire. Once locked on to your target you can choose to suck out their brains, hypnotise them, and send them to sleep, but much of how you go about things seems to be down to choice and personal preference more than a prescribed solution, which is good to see. On top of that you also come with a spluttery jetpack as standard issue to let you soar around in brief spurts, and generally get the hell out of the way of angry mobs, high powered agents with very big guns, and even giant stompy robots.

Mmmm. Brains.

Having thrown around cows, zapped yokels and sucked their brain stems from them, the game then progresses to flying saucer combat, which pans the camera out to give the player an isometric view of the environment and arms you (to begin with) a powerful Death Ray at the armed forces, and tasks you with levelling buildings just for the hell of it. If you feel particularly evil you can switch to your abductor ray and skim about sucking up screaming, cocky humans and show them what for.

All the while, the game's enemies quip like mad, and it's one of the few games we've played lately where the fun factor is foremost in the minds of the designers. Although most of the tasks are of the 'destroy 10 of these people', 'wreck those buildings' variety, the execution is charming, fun and above all really enjoyable. It'll tickle your funny bone, just don't expect it to change the face of gaming as we know it, although it might encourage others to follow its comic lead.

Our next adventure basically skipped straight to a Pool Party, where the basic premise is to sneak around and read the thoughts of the locals to find out where the Mayor is hanging out. Once you find out where the groovy types are twisting by the pool it's a case of zapping them all before then fending off the waves of cops that descend instantly from planet Copland no doubt from their little spawning machines beloved of game designers the world over.

Hapless hack

Like all the levels we've played so far, once you've finished each mission the game lets you carry on in a sandbox fashion, either messing around destroying everything in sight for fun, stocking up on DNA from hapless humans or taking part in a series of side missions - usually timed challenges like that involve taking out a certain number of people within the time limit and so on.

Another mission we got to grips with involved defending a couple of TV broadcast masts from an advancing posse of tanks, military trucks and SMG wielding soldiers - but one that could be tackled just as effectively on foot or in your flying saucer. Once we'd taken out the pesky air defence system dotted around we took to the skies, blasting tanks into balls of flaming fury, dodging their missiles and feeling somewhat superior to these meek and pathetic humans. Oh yes. HAVE IT!.

Ahem. Next up, another mission (our final sortie for our extended preview playtest) tasks our (anti) hero Crypto with invading a secret base, with the humans fighting back having used some of the alien tech against you in their fight for survival. The idea is to sneak in, dodge a bunch of men in black and destroy all their research equipment, leg it out and destroy the Tesla Coils, buildings and, in fact, more or less anything standing.

All hail to Benny Hill

With a bunch of respawning Men In Black gits screeching up in black cars and seemingly on our case the whole time, we eventually got fed up with having Benny Hill-style chases and dying all the time and tried our luck in the nearby flying saucer. At this point, we pretty much rocked the place to its core with a combination of skilful flying, a mean death ray aim and persistence that soon saw the level kneeling to our undoubted tenacity. 1-0 to the little grey (not green) guys with the big eyes and little bodies.

So, is it worth keeping an eye on? That's the obvious thing to address at this stage, and the answer is absolutely. Its sense of humour is arguably its strongest point, and with hundreds of little comic touches bursting out of each level you'll want to play through it just to see and hear those. The visuals are fully progressive scanned up, meaning those with the right HDTV kit (and leads, don't forget) will get to experience the game in all its sumptuous glory on both PS2 and Xbox (makes a change), although it's fair to point out that while the engine's perfectly capable, and has a brilliantly loveable 50s B-movie style throughout, there are a few pop-up issues that had yet to be addressed in this build; we'll be sure to let you know if they're ironed out in the full game. The audio is another strong point, with some wonderful characterisation in the voiceovers, and appropriate 50s sci-fi soundtrack to give the game a really cracking ambience that shows off a project really rammed with creative juices and a loving care absent from of lot of the sterile by-the-numbers efforts we have to endure on a day to day basis.

There are undoubtedly a whole lot of features we've yet to really have a chance to test at this point, with much of what we've seen in previous presentations and the like not available for us to play just yet. But with work on the game more or less finished now we're expecting THQ to finally grant us the review code any time soon. When they do we'll be going all out to give the game all the attention it deserves, so check back in the run up to the game's June 24th release for a full and final verdict on one of this summer's most endearing offerings and see whether it can truly deliver on the rich promise it so clearly displays.

Destroy All Humans is released on June 24th on PS2 and Xbox from THQ.

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About the Author
Kristan Reed avatar

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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