Originally created 07/04/05

Review: 'Destroy All Humans!' is campy fun



What would an advanced, space-faring civilization possibly need from creatures who think sliced bread is a marvel?

"Destroy All Humans!" (PlayStation 2 and Xbox, T-rated, $50) has some disturbingly hilarious answers. It turns out that being entirely expendable is what makes us humans such a ripe target.

With Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" remake hitting theaters this week, we'll have plenty of time to consider how depressing an alien invasion might be. "Destroy All Humans!" gives us something to laugh about, too.

This homage to campy sci-fi B-flicks from the 1950s casts you as Cryptosporidium 137, an angrier, more violent version of Marvin the Martian.

Crypto is a bug-eyed visitor who needs some human brains and is the latest in a long line of cloned aliens from the Furon Empire (the 137th to be exact, duh). All the cloning has depleted their DNA stockpiles, and humanity is the only source for salvation.

Your arrival couldn't have come at a better time. The United States is in the grips of Red Scare paranoia, so your shenanigans get blamed on Communists, not aliens.

Your arsenal includes anal probes, ion detonators and a disintegrator ray. (The blasters wielded by the baddies in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" had a similar effect of turning flesh and blood humans into crispy, smoldering skeletons.)

You sometimes have to take a more subtle approach and disguise yourself as a human by reading their minds. Using mental powers, you also can grab and toss cows, cars, tanks and people.

Your zeal for DNA will take you across the country - on foot and in Crypto's flying saucer. It's a sadistic thrill piloting over hapless communities, razing city blocks with the ship's mighty death ray.

Some might consider brain snatching and city devastation hardly worth laughing about. But the humor here is rooted in its mockery of the Communist-fueled fear from a bygone era.

Then there's the banter between Crypto - who speaks with a voice somewhere between John Wayne and Jack Nicholson - and alien boss Pox, who barks orders from an orbiting mothership.

The action itself gets a bit redundant. So seasoned gamers will find this a relatively easy diversion, and it won't take them more than a day or two to complete. There's no multiplayer function to give it lasting appeal.

Sci-fi devotees will find a lot to like in "Destroy All Humans!"

I only wish the invasion hadn't ended so quickly.

Three stars out of four.

On the Net:

http://www.destroyallhumansgame.com