Destroy All Humans! Impressions

Scamper around on foot or take to the sky in a UFO in this impressive-looking game from Pandemic.

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Since the days of Space Invaders, many games have focused on the topic of defending Earth from an alien attack. But you rarely get to see the other side of the story. In THQ's new action game, Destroy All Humans!, you'll get to take on the role of an alien on the hunt for some missing DNA.

As the story goes, you are a member of an alien race. This race is dying out, and the key to getting the aliens back on their feet is to track down some alien DNA, which the aliens seeded onto several planets a long, long time ago. The DNA currently resides in the brainstems of a handful of humans. So it's up to you, as Crypto 137, to find that DNA and save your race. But you'll have to get through the humans first.

Destroy All Humans! is a multifaceted game. In some instances you'll have to disguise yourself as a human to get through certain areas without attracting attention. You'll have to read the minds of the puny humans to learn about their likes and dislikes. You'll get to probe farmers, slaughter cows, and do all the awesome little things that aliens do.

The E3 demo shows Crypto 137 as he stumbles onto a drive-in movie theater showing the "classic" sci-fi film Plan 9 From Outer Space. Upon seeing this footage, Crypto mistakes it for documentary footage about humans killing aliens and flies into a rage, destroying the movie theater. You'll have the power of telekinesis at your fingertips, which, when combined with a full-blown set of Havoc physics, lets you do some fun things. At the drive-in, you'll get to lift up cars and send them flying through the theater screen. Other powers let you hypnotize humans and get them to do your bidding, up to and including making them do a silly dance to cause a distraction.

But Crypto 137's brain powers aren't his only means of interacting with the world. You'll also have four unique weapons at your disposal, like a laser blaster, an ion detonator that lets you take out large objects with an impressive shock wave, or the brain bug, which is said to drill around inside its victims and cause a rather unpleasant demise.

Destroy All Humans! has a really good sense of humor to it. The humans are shown as appropriately stupid, with most of them carrying around pretty vapid thoughts ("I like Ike!") in their heads. Some of that info is useful, though, and you'll be able to repeat those thoughts to other humans when you're in disguise. The hilarity comes in when you actually hear your disguised alien try to speak. Since he has no real context on human culture or English, he sounds like he's speaking phonetically, and the voice work for this stuff is really well done. Your main opponent in the game is a Men in Black-like force of G-men known as the Majestic. They'll be able to see through your disguises, and presumably they're the ones that cover up your tracks and feed cover stories to the newspapers. Every so often--at least in the E3 demo--a headline will spin up to the screen with some sort of hilarious explanation ("a gas explosion") for your mayhem.

Speaking of mayhem, the best way to cause extreme damage seems to be the UFO. You can fly around at will when you're in your ship, and you have some great weapons to choose from, like the death ray, a sonic boom that busts out all the windows of nearby buildings, an abductor ray, and the ever-popular quantum deconstructor.

Destroy All Humans! will contain five very large locations, with about 20 missions to play through. You'll also find four to six sandbox-style missions when just roaming around the locations on your own. The game is already ready impressive from a presentation standpoint, with sharp graphics and some pretty fantastic music, sound, and voice work. On the Xbox, the game will support widescreen and 480p. The PlayStation 2 version's video specifications haven't been finalized at this time.

With an impressive demo and a fun premise, Destroy All Humans! already looks like it will be a game worth taking a closer look at. We'll certainly have more on the game in the coming months, as the game currently isn't scheduled to ship until Q1 2005.

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