The laser toting, insult slinging alien Cryptosporidium 138 returns to make war - not love - in Pandemic's Destroy All Humans! 2. The game takes place during the psychedelic '60s and begins with Cryptos enjoying the spoils of victory from his successful takeover of the American government in the previous title.
Horny as ever, Cryptos is just about to break in his newly formed genitalia - thanks to the human DNA you harvested in the previous game - when a Russian missile destroys his mothership and ruins the party. You'll have to travel around the world to sock it to the Soviets while destroying a bunch of humans along the way.
Like the original, Destroy All Humans! 2 will hook you in with its sense of style and cheesy humor. It still manages to maintain that campy, B-movie quality feeling with lots of "so bad it's good" moments and excessive theremin sounds (that oscillating, "whoooOOOOoooo" that's so prevalent in flying saucer movies) that would make Ed Wood proud.
It's also less humorous than the first game - taking advantage of dimwitted Bay Area hippies, new wave English mods, and Japanese school girls sounds great, but the game's one-liner approach at humor and story suffers from being spread too thinly over too many targets. It's still funnier than 90% of the other games out there; it's just not as fresh or focused as the original DAH.
Ironically, it also feels like you're out to save all humans rather than destroy them. Sure, there are plenty of monuments to level with your UFO and innocent bystanders to waste with alien weaponry, but the majority of the story missions are escort and delivery type errands and focus on thwarting the communists' plans to subvert and cripple the world's populace.
There's also not much freedom in how you choose to complete these missions - except for which gun to use when the scripted enemy encounters occur. So it's still not quite the "GTA with aliens" sandbox that we'd like it to be.
However, one way in which this series arguably even exceeds GTA is in its firepower. The first game was bombastic, and explosive new weapons have been added to Cryptos' arsenal. The Beast Burrower summons a worm like the one from Tremors and devours enemies from below. Gastro, the spirit of the dead janitor from your mothership, can be summoned to spew energy blasts and insults at nearby foes. Other gadgets like the Meteor Strike - which calls down a gigantic meteor to crush buildings, and can be upgraded to a whole swarm of flaming space-rocks - are also welcome additions.
On the downside, the human race is still stupid. The military and KGB forces you encounter are so dimwitted and weak that it often felt like a waste of ammo to use these goodies and they'll probably end up collecting dust in your space suit once you've fired them a few times.
New psychic abilities are available to Cryptos as well. He can perform a Body Snatch to take control of any human he encounters. If passersby happen to see you, they'll panic or even attack you. Luckily, you can always use the Free Love action - your get out of jail free card - which causes those around you to forget their troubles and break out in a hippie dance circle. It's pretty funny the first few times. But the psychedelic theme of the Free Love doesn't groove well with the Japan and Siberia levels and feels out of place.
The game also hosts a variety of two player minigames such as Psycho-Kinetic Tennis - where you and your partner use Cryptos' psychic powers to lob helpless victims back and forth. Unfortunately, you won't be able to start them from the main menu. Instead, you'll have to access them via special 2 Player Pods hidden throughout each area and you probably won't want to bother finding them if you've got a friend over. Bummer.
As usual, the Xbox version of the game sports slightly sharper graphics than its PS2 counterpart. However, you won't find any difference in terms of gameplay or unlockables between the two.
We desperately wanted to love Destroy All Humans! 2 because of its campy style and premise. And, twisted though it may be, we wanted to lay waste to the human race - but found ourselves instead slaving away to save it from the Russians. In the end, Destroy All Humans! 2 is an average sandbox title with a charismatic anti-hero and hilarious B-movie presentation as its saving grace. And we'll take that. It's still way better than being conquered by the Russians. Borscht sucks.