A couple years back, THQ Nordic began pumping us all full of nostalgia with a number of PS2-era remakes; namely Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated and of course, Destroy All Humans! Well, you better get ready to be pumped full of errr, alien juice, as Destroy All Humans 2 is returning this month to re-probe us all. Lovely.
Yes, the classic sequel is back with a bang on modern platforms, with a largely familiar makeover for anyone who played 2020's remake of the original. Things have been touched up in places and smoothed over in others, but this is absolutely a 2006 video game with a fresh lick of paint. If you go in with that mindset you'll probably have enough fun with Reprobed to justify a playthrough, especially if you have even an ounce of nostalgia for the original. However, it's safe to say we've moved on quite a bit since this first launched back in the mid-2000's.
Putting it simply, Destroy All Humans 2 is a 3D action platformer backed up by a plentiful arsenal of otherworldly weaponry. Think Ratchet & Clank but a bit less refined and you're about there. Levels are more open than the PlayStation-only series and as a result a bit more aimless, but the selection of weapons and what you can perform on enemies with them is still the star of the show here.
Having said that, we tended to stick with using about half of the available weapons throughout, as they're just the most effective in most combat scenarios. The classic Zap-O-Matic will likely become your go-to, simply because it never runs out of ammo and merely requires a quick cool-down to keep on blasting away. Items like the Meteor Strike and the Disintegrator Ray come in handy for tackling larger groups of enemies and bosses, but the rest of them get left for only the most desperate of scenarios, i.e., you're low on ammo across the board. Even the Anal Probe isn't that useful all told, which is a bummer. Literally.
You'll be using these weapons across a nice variety of locations in DAH2, which is another of the game's strong suits. You'll start out in a shrunk-down, fictionalised San Francisco, before heading to similar variations of London, Tokyo, Siberia and eventually, the Moon. There's some nice environmental variety here and all five locations have been spruced up really well in the remake, especially Siberia and the Moon.
However, when talking about traversing these locations, the game's PS2-era origins become apparent. You have a jetpack of sorts allowing you to float and boost around, along with your flying saucer of course, which is mostly saved for set-piece fights and getting from A to B. However, both of these traversal methods completely kill the need for any actual level design, it feels like. Forget buildings, walls, mountains, hills, fences, you name it. You can pretty much always boost over or fly around anything in this game, and it just makes every mission area feel like a big empty space. Both mechanics are useful for getting out of tight situations, but it just feels like the game would be utterly broken without the two, as wandering around on the ground feels impossible during a lot of these missions.
This isn't the only aspect of DAH2 that feels dated either. The story, albeit tongue-in-cheek and clearly a parody most of the time, feels so stuck in that era it's sort of painful. You spend a ton of your time fighting alongside Russian spy 'Natalya Ivanova', who's as scantily clad as you'd expect. This doesn't really bother us too much, but protagonist Crypto's constant flirtatious quips do grate a bit after a while. The game presents dialogue options as a choice throughout, but the top option always progresses the story properly and the others are mostly reserved for flirting with Ivanova for no real reason. It's funny the first few times, and then it becomes annoying and sort of weird.
A couple of the game's boss fights are a bit annoying too, which again, is something to expect from the era this game was born in. The Godzilla-esque 'Kojira' boss was a particularly infuriating one, as deaths felt completely out of your hands at certain points where the enemy would 'overload' with rage if left to their own devices for too long, resulting in an auto-fail. Again, nothing too egregious but something worth pointing out for sure.
During smaller fights DAH2 introduces a possession mechanic pretty early on, where you take over a human's body as a sort of disguise. This is basically the game's haphazard way of bringing stealth into the mix, and again, it's functional but it feels like a get-out-of-jail card when the game wants to change the pace of things a bit. The mechanic is there and it works (sometimes it's forced as a way to get through missions), but just like the traversal abilities, it often feels like a mechanic put in place to circumvent some pretty rudimentary level design.
We don't want to come across as too harsh though - we knew what we were getting into with this remake. We hadn't played the 2006 original beforehand, admittedly, but we have played the first Destroy All Humans game from 2005, so we understand the era these remakes are coming from. DAH2 Reprobed is fun in a sort of 'teenager at the back of the class lobbing pens at people' kind of way, but be aware that without a heavy bout of nostalgia to carry you through, throwing those pens does feel a bit dumb in 2022.
Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed is exactly what you'd expect, a sprucing up of a game that's so obviously from another era it can be painful at times. However, strip some of that back and the core idea is pretty fun and still works on a basic level, albeit with a few caveats as mentioned. If you played the old version and have some nostalgia for it, this remake will no-doubt scratch that itch and take you back, but those after a more comprehensive 'remake' of such an effort will probably be left wanting a bit more modernisation. It's time to retire the probe for another 15 years, then.