Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed Review
Ask a long-time gamer about humor in video games, and they’re likely to mention Double Fine’s classics. It makes sense. Games like Psychonauts and its sequel, or Escape from Monkey Island are classic examples. But, as Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed reminds us, smart and funny writing does not exclusively belong to Tim Schafer and company.
Flower Children and Bad Trips
Lately, developers and publishers are tossing around reboots, remasters, and remakes more or less interchangeably. If you’re confused, you should be. In the case of Destroy All Humans 2: Rebrobed, Black Forest Games and THQ have released what amounts to a 1:1 remake with better everything: graphics, textures, and audio. It’s the same treatment the original Destroy All Humans! received in 2020.
Destroy All Humans! was a parody of B-films and 1950s Cold War American culture. The sequel advances the clock to the heady hippie-and-mod days of the 1960s. Instead of riffing on 1950s radiation-fueled monsters, James Bond spy thrillers are the main reference. In Destroy All Humans! 2, alien hero Crypto travels the world seeking revenge on the Russian KGB for destroying the Furon mothership, as well as fighting the Blisk, another alien race.
The 12-or-so-hour game follows Crypto on a globe-trotting journey from San Francisco to the Moon, with stops along the way in London and China. Of course, each city has an alternate name, like Bay City, Albion and Takoshima. At each step along the way, the developers unleash a barrage of location-specific jokes. Bay City is all about hippies, flower children, drug culture and the anti-war movement. You get the idea.
Point A to B
In each location, Crypto completes a series of bite-sized missions with pretty simple objectives that ultimately follow a linear plot. However, Crypto has a tiny amount of open world-lite freedom in completing some of them. There’s a bit of variety in assignments and not everything is about alien vs. human combat. Well, a lot of it is. While it is an advance over the first game, Destroy All Humans! 2 was still hamstrung by the limits of PS2 and original Xbox technology.
In service of his mission to Destroy All Humans! a second time, Crypto has a large arsenal of sci-fi inspired weapons, many of which appeared in the first game. There are some new ones, too, like his ability to make groups of hippies and cops dance together so he can escape the scene. Crypto also has a flying saucer and quite a number of missions depend on its weapons.
Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed does an excellent job of introducing new weapons and abilities at just the right pace. Controls are simple and generally intuitive. The minimap does a good job of highlighting objectives.
Funny Then, Funny Now
Humor is subjective, but while Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed contains its fair share of groany-bad, thud-landing jokes, there are many more zingers and smart, subtle asides. The writing is part MST3K, part Simpsons. Everything is a riff on some aspect of pop culture, history or other media. It isn’t exactly family-friendly, but it’s usually not raunchy or crude. The game’s violence is cartoonish and often silly.
Some of the writing and voice work descends into cultural caricature, but Crypto’s Jack Nicholson’s parody – a reference to the actor’s role in Mars Attacks! – is spot on.
So, What’s New, and What’s Not?
Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed is a straight-up remake using the Unreal Engine 4, and it looks great, with sharp textures that are galaxies ahead of the 2006 original. Figure models were already stylized, and now they look like they were probably imagined to be. The music by Gary Schyman is excellent. It’s a theramin-infused mash-up of 1960s’ action movie music and sci-fi film scores, with maybe a little Leonard Bernstein tossed in like croutons on a salad.
Destroy All Humans! 2 Reprobed is not hard to recommend for gamers who missed it the first time around, or remember it fondly and want to play it again. It looks, sounds and controls like a current title, and most of the jokes hold up just fine. Not all the gameplay mechanics and mission designs feel that fresh anymore, and it can feel simplistic and repetitive against the backdrop of recent action games. Like the remake of the original Destroy All Humans!, it’s hard not to wish that Black Forest had gone further into actual reboot territory, because the narrative bones, characters, and style could be something special in a more open-world, contemporary game.
***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Sharp new textures and visuals
- Often clever jokes and satire
- Updated controls
- Effective music and voice acting
- Mission design feels dated
- Combat is repetitive
- A straight up remake that doesn’t add much