Destroy All Humans! has had something of a checkered past. Originally released in 2005, Pandemic Studio’s irrelevant homage to the bygone era’s of the sixties and seventies was hailed as something of a breath of fresh air. An iconoclastic, low budget, tongue in cheek romp, the game was both innovative and fun. For once you got to play the bad guy and blow up tones of stuff while revisiting the age of the Beatles, B-movies and bee-hive hairdo’s. What was there not to like?
But the years have been less than kind. At the time of writing it is 2009 and we now have the fourth incarnation of the series: Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon. And, if there is an ounce of mercy in the world, this will probably be the last outing for the franchise.
Before Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon was released, the omens were portentous. Destroy All Humans! creators, Pandemic, were no longer involved in the game. THQ’s replacement studio , Sandblast Games – formerly Cranky Pants Studios who brought us such gems as Red Faction II and Evil Dead: Regeneration – were unceremoniously closed down a month before the game was released and the title was cancelled for the PS3 in North America. After a few weeks playing Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon, we were left wondering why it was not cancelled outright in Europe as well.
The game appears to have aimed at being a half-hearted re-hash of previous installments – and fallen woefully short of that mediocre goal. Our once beloved Furon, Cryptosporidium, or Crypto to his mates, is back centre stage and picks up his adventures from Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed.
Now he is the owner of a family friendly casino, in Los Paridiso, and has his tiny green heart set on kicking back and raking in the cash when a family of mafia hoodlums decide to muscle in on his action. Yes, the plot is weak enough to qualify for a bed on life support . And, yes, it is just a thinly disguised excuse for running around five sandbox locations – Los Paradiso , Sunnywood, Shen Long , Belleville and the fourth Ring of Furon- blowing things up with an array of tried and tested extra-terrestrial weapons.
The games tasks you / Crypto with performing a series of mind numbingly dull challenges either on foot or in a saucer. The challenges and side missions consists of a paint by numbers formula which boils down to blow up A, abduct B, take over C’s body and defend D from attack. That is it in a nutshell. The creatives at Pandemic were probably slapping their collective foreheads in frustration after this title was released. To say that playing Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon is about as much fun as watching old people eat is an understatement. Coming from a studio that gave us the widely acclaimed Summoner: A Goddess Reborn, we wondered whether Sandblast knew they were about to be canned after the game was completed and decided to stay home and phone in their ideas.
Although it utilises the Unreal engine, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon still manages to be an incredibly ugly game. The textures are bland and the environments are the visual equivalent of sitting though an insurance seminar. You will also notice that the ingame characters seem to have been modeled from two basic templates and the lighting is a sure candidate for the Worst Lighting in Video Games award. On one occasion I caught myself idly wondering whether the PS2 version of the game looked this bad. Note: I checked and no, it didn’t.
Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon does have a few saving graces. J. Grant Albrecht and Richard Steven Horvitz have been recalled to provide the voices of Crypto and his sidekick Pox after being replaced on the decidedly rubbish ‘Big Willy Unleashed’ on the Wii. Their performance is, as ever first class. Although it has to be said that all of their hard work seems to have been let down by the sort of ropey lip-synching you only find in badly dubbed kung fu movies. Fans of the original game will be happy to know that the old weapons make a comeback (yes, the *yawn* anal probe is here too) with some new variations – such as the seed firing gun that creates killer Venus fly traps – and a few remotely interesting new powers. The most memorable has to be the ability to stop time but unfortunately the joys of stroking that puppy quickly grow old as the game grinds on.
Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon offers virtually no multiplayer – with no online option and just three co-op modes. To be honest, this game is a shadow of its former self and the less said about it the better. In its defense, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon was born in interesting times, but the resulting product is still far from what we’ve come to expect from a next gen title.
Since the beginning of the year the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii have seen their share of games that have been one in a million. Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon could have been won in a car boot sale. Avoid.