Friday, May 31, 2013

Destroy All Humans!


No, that is not a call for you to unleash whatever misanthropic tendencies you might have.

Although if you were going to, this would be a safe and healthy way to do it.

The header refers to one of my favorite video games, Destroy All Humans!  During these days of summer leisure (whether I want them or not), I've become reacquainted with this game.

It's on the older side, released back in 2005.  In it, you play Cryptosporidium 137, a star-weary and lecherous little alien with a voice that sounds suspiciously like Jack Nicholson.  He is sent to Earth during the 1950s on a variety of missions in locales that vary from farm towns in the Midwest, to seaside California, to steel towns on Eastcoast and finally Washington D.C.  There's also Area 51 thrown in for good measure. 

The missions for "Crypto" are sent from a leader named Pox who remains in a Furon mothership high in Earth orbit.  The ship looks a lot like the one at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but who's counting. The missions are typically to acquire human DNA.  It is explained that after centuries of interplanetary nuclear war, the Furons have lost their genitalia.  Getting human DNA back will correct that issue (Furons interbred with our ancestors before they lost their junk.) And the hilarious shenanigans Crypto must go through to get it...well, damn it's just a lot of fun. 

It's fun for a good many reasons.  First of all, the setting gives ample opportunity to mock the repressive lifestyle and cultural mindset of the 1950s.  Crypto is able to read minds.  As he does so, he finds people struggling to find new ways to conceal their misery and deny their sexual urges. Any destruction or mayhem he causes is automatically blamed on "those commies."  Additionally, the setting places Destroy All Humans! squarely in the era of Atomic Horror, giving rise to parody of such delectable b-films as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Teenagers From Outer Space.

Secondly, a goodly amount of UFO lore was plundered in the making of the game.  The opening sequence features a classic flying saucer disrupting a missile test and resulting in a Roswell-like crash.  There are also abductions, cattle mutilations, anal probes (for real), and the aforementioned chapter set in Area 51.  Most prominent of all is that Crypto is forever being pursued by not just earthly police and army forces, but by powerful Men in Black from a secret organization called Majestic.  Dope.  And I do mean, "dope" because that's exactly what the MIBs in this game are: dopes.  Their banter, their inner thoughts, all perfectly depicting macho feds as basically a football team with laser guns.

Lastly, DAH! does of course give me a sick satisfaction after a bad day to play an alien laying waste to the folly of human society.  Best of all, you can do it one-on-one as Crypto runs through the environment on foot or you can wreak wholesale destruction while in his flying saucer.

The game inspired three sequels.  DAH! 2 is not as much fun, set in the 1960s and drawing much inspiration from the spy movies and hippie counter-culture of the day (an absurdly tedious level in the middle of things doesn't help any.)  DAH! 3: Big Willy Unleashed is one I've played very little of as to do so I must languish through the intolerable player interface of the Wii.  DAH! 4: Path of the Furon is one I have not played but it supposedly has a 1970s martial arts theme to it.

Try out the first Destroy All Humans! if you can find it.  Like I said, the humor is a perfect lift for de profundis moments and the violence is an outlet for when you think the human race just can't sink any lower.


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