The Destroy All Humans series is one of those franchises that just continues to endure. But it’s not just retro nostalgia keeping it relevant. As the 2020 remake of the original game showed us, this is still a wonderfully silly and enjoyable world to jump into and have a lot of fun with. The witty writing and the open-world chaos that unfolds as you uproot society with Cryptosporidium’s ghastly arsenal are more than enough on their own to warrant the attention of gamers new and old, and while the remake of Destroy All Humans! 2 does have a couple of issues that water its charm down at times, I still found myself grinning from ear to ear most of the time while playing it.
Unlike the original Destroy All Humans which was set in the late ’50s and was completely smothered in the early sci-fi monster movie aesthetic of the era, Destroy all Humans! 2 takes place ten years later at the dawn of the the 70s and in the heat of the cold war between the US and Soviet Union. This gives the game a bit of a tonal shift away from classic sci-fi to more of a low-rent James Bond spy thriller motif, but it still hangs on to a lot of the musical and visual cues of the first game. Thematically, it doesn’t work as well as the first game’s style in my opinion, but it’s definitely a fun parody of the era that applies the same level of social commentary and satire as the first.
"While the remake of Destroy All Humans! 2 does have a couple of issues that water its charm down at times, I still found myself grinning from ear to ear most of the time while playing it."
The story is a little more complex this time around too, with both the US and USSR working to uncover the origin of a mysterious mutagen on top of their own conflict. There’s also a rogue soviet agent whose path and interests are often intertwined with Crypto’s. It’s a bit much, but with how light and silly the whole thing is, you’d be missing the point by assigning too much weight to the story. Also, with J. Grant Albrecht’s Jack Nicholson-infused performance for Crypto and Richard Steven Horvitz’s Invader Zim-adjacent character Pox carrying the whole thing, you really can’t go wrong. These two characters play off each other perfectly and light up every scene they’re in, which is most of them. We’re first reintroduced to a much sharper Cryptosporidium who has been spending his days, partaking in various mind-altering substances since we last saw him.
The sabbatical is broken off by an attack on the mothership, relegating his superior Orthopox to a holographic existence, and setting in motion the story of the game. From there, Crypto crosses paths with – and often destroys – bumbling Russian spies and comically incompetent figures from around the world, which is one of the first big points about Destroy All Humans! 2; unlike the first game which took you around to different sections of America, this one has you visiting different regions of the world. All with their own slapstick characters, geographical personality, side missions, and of course a truckload of hilarious inner monologues to listen to with the cortex scan. Many missions require you to scan several humans’ thoughts to uncover important information, so don’t worry, you’ll almost certainly come across most of them organically.
The new control scheme is one of the major areas where the “remake” part comes in. The random button layouts that many PS2 and Xbox games dealt with are gone, as Black Forest Games has implemented roughly the same controls as they did with 2020’s remake of the original game. Instantly recognizable elements like a clear mini-map, weapon wheel, and upgrade menus make their way over to Reprobed as well, making it play more like modern platformers than anything else. Although I don’t want to give you the impression that Reprobed is as fluid or as polished as any of them, it’s definitely not. Still yet, jetpacking around major cities that define their regions of the world, hunting down DNA while sending cars and people bouncing around the stage with the dislocator, and using sonic booms to demolish iconic super structures haven’t lost even a drop of charm over all these years.
"Jetpacking around major cities that define their regions of the world, hunting down DNA while sending cars and people bouncing around the stage with the dislocator, and using sonic booms to demolish iconic super structures haven’t lost even a drop of charm over all these years."
And while we do owe a lot of that to how objectively good the original game is, we also have to applaud the effort to modernize it by Black Forest Games. It never quite obscures its modest roots, but it does feel more than modern enough to be a consistently good time. Missions tend to break down into a handful of categories and involve a roughly the same handful of tasks. Destroying buildings, escorting characters to safety, collecting a certain number of certain things, wiping out groups of humans, or more clandestine activities like body snatching a certain person without anyone noticing or scanning cortexes of people in a certain area to gain important info. They’re all mixed up well enough that you don’t really notice the repetition a lot of the time, and even when you do, you’re still having fun with the ever-expanding arsenal of Crypto’s weapons and abilities. Grinding out some side-missions is a good way to stay ahead of the difficulty curve, so I highly recommend settling in for a few hours of those early on. These aren’t as inspired as the main missions, but again, you’re generally having fun no matter what.
That said, some rather rough edges will reveal themselves early on and continue to do so throughout the game. Texture popping is plainly visible more often than I would like for a remake of a PS2 game. Particularly when Crypto is flying around in the air and for some reason during cutscenes. You’ll also run into frame-rate dips and even screen tearing while traversing busier areas, but also in the more intense firefights and sections where you’re flying your saucer.
These are things that can be overlooked some of the time, but again, for a remake of a PS2 game on the exponentially beefier PS5, it’s tough to excuse. If I can play Uncharted 4 flawlessly at 120 frames a second on this thing, I should certainly be able to play Destroy All Humans! 2 at a consistent 60. Switching VRR support on and off didn’t really seem to make a difference. More concerningly, I also experienced things like NPC’s popping in and out of existence, vehicles completely freaking out for no reason, sound effects and dialogue inexplicably cutting out or looping, and I even had a particularly baffling instance of a main story mission failing to trigger about 12 hours in, leaving me stranded in the middle of the game even after deleting and reinstalling it. If this is why the developers decided to skip the last-gen console versions of the game, then I’m glad they did so.
While the performance might not be my favorite thing about the game, the art direction is spot on and I often marveled at the glow up the game seems to have gotten. The various sandboxes of the different regions are colorful, varied, and full of new details that really bring them to life and distinguish them from one another quite well. The Japan-themed Takoshima level in particular is an absolute feast for the eyes with bustling city streets and alleyways surrounded by cherry blossom-covered mountains on the outskirts. All of which are a treat to run through as a school girl or a ninja from one of the two feuding clans. Or, of course, as Crypto’s true form tearing through police and military officials as they mount their futile attempts to stop you.
"As with the first game, but perhaps even more so here, the dialogue ranges from legitimately hilarious to sharply critical of various facets of 20th century humanity."
As with the first game, but perhaps even more so here, the dialogue ranges from legitimately hilarious to sharply critical of various facets of 20th century humanity. Some additional features like a few multiplayer modes and a nice variety of skins for crypto and the saucer serve as a nice cherry on top of it all. Granted, the PK tennis and duel modes are pretty shallow and frankly not all that fun, and the couch co-op does hit you with the additional performance dip that you would expect, but it is still here and in 2022, any excuse to play around with some local multiplayer modes is nice to see.
Destroy All Humans! 2: Reprobed does a great job in most ways. By letting the writing and core concepts of the original game shine by not changing them much and overhauling the two areas that really needed it – the controls and the visuals – it absolutely has the right idea for how to remake a PS2-era classic. The jokes are still funny, the story is still a ridiculous rollercoaster ride of nonsense, and the gameplay and visuals have been given the upgrade they deserve. If the whole package was properly polished off and ran as well as it clearly could and should, I’d be over the moon. But as it is, it’s a tentative recommendation assuming the more serious bugs I mentioned get ironed out. That aside, for the price, Reprobed does seem to have most of the fundamentals in place for a successful modernization of a series that still clearly has plenty of life left in it.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Vibrant, detailed graphics; Updated controls and UI; Great, fun-filled gameplay that still holds up.
Inconsistent performance; Lots of bugs.