Destroy All Humans! is a fun reversal of the normal alien invasion scenario where you side with the humans in a battle against the evil aliens. In this game, you are the evil alien, Crypto, who has been sent to rescue a downed craft and then destroy all humans. You can think of this game using a GTA frame: open ended gameplay, story missions to progress the plot line, and the ability to visit any of the six cities at any time. You can also fly your Saucer or stay on land at will (except for some story missions).
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From the start, you land at Turnipseed Farm, a country location where you'll learn about your basic abilities and weapons. Your weapons get better as the game progresses, which is not to say that the standard Zap-O-Matic is anything to shake a stick at. Your abilities include mind reading (which fills up your Concentration Meter), psychokinesis (lift and throw objects ala Psi-Ops), brain extraction (to gather DNA, your currency), and hypnotizing people to make them do silly things. You can also holobob, which allows you to take on the image of any character in the game in order to blend in. There is also an alert level, similar to the "wanted level" in GTA. Missions either consist of using your saucer to destroy towns or certain buildings or consist of on-foot missions where you will do everything from impersonating a town mayor and giving a rousing speech to collecting brains for research.
Throughout all of this there is a witty humor that permeates the game, mostly based on our notions of 50's sci-fi films. Many of these funny situations occur as you're reading people's minds. You will do this often, as reading minds refills your concentration meter which is imperitive. Doing so will reveal people's inner thoughts. Some of my favorites are the town women who reveal their secret loves or how they are jealous of Marilyn Monroe for marrying an artist and a baseball player, the soldiers who claim that the Texas Air National Guard is a cushy assignment or who say that the don't ask don't tell policy is just fine by them, and the policemen who have issues with the bill of rights.
The missions themselves are also made to have an aire of humor around them as well, for example. in the mission "Mr. Crypto Goes to Capitol City" it is your job to kill all of the senators. Another instance is the mission "Earth Women are Delicious!" where you need to find a good female specimen for study. Of course, the best way to do this is to go to the county fair and see who the men are talking about, by reading their minds.
As the game progresses you'll have to earn DNA by collecting brains (extracting them from humans), finding probes, or completing side missions. Your DNA, your currency, is a must to open up new levels and is also how you purchase upgrades to your weapons and abilities. And, I have to say that the first few times you extract a brain from a human is quite fun. Add in the fact that some brains are worth more DNA than others, for example, scientists are worth more than an average joe, and you can see some of the detail and nuance that has gone into the game.
Destroy All Humans! was developed by Pandemic. The other famous Pandemic game is Mercenaries. Interestingly enough, both of these games ended up driving me crazy. Destroy All Humans!, if you only play the story missions, is a short game. You could probably finish it in two or three days. However, if you take it upon yourself to find all 184 Probes hidden throughout the game, well, you're in for one heck of a frustrating time. This fundamental game length issue is a problem: it's too short in it's main mode and too long for those hard core gamers who want to 100% the game. This same drawback can be found in Mercenaries. In that game, if you only collect the cards necessary to get the Ace, it's a short game. If you want to collect all 52 cards, then you're in for a long and repetitive game play experience.
That being said, Pandemic is a very talented studio which produces highly polished games with a lot of depth to them. They simply need to work on the experience itself. In the case of Destroy All Humans!, this is a great rental. It is fun to play but ultimately not very satisfying. A great "fluff" game, if you will.