Review: Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Genre: Action
Developer: SandBlast Games
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: 12/01/08

In Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon everyone’s favorite wise cracking alien, who also happens to sound a lot like Jack Nicholson, returns to do what he does best: destroying humans. For those unfamiliar with the first game, it was an interesting little sandbox title created by Pandemic, the creators of such games as Mercenaries, Full Spectrum Warrior, and the Star Wars Battlefront series. The game revolved around an alien named Cryptosporidium 137, or Crypto for short, who was on Earth harvesting human brainstems for DNA. The game was a fun title that spoofed the cold war, old sci-fi movies, and pop-culture.

Plus you could telekinetically throw cows around and anal probe rednecks. What isn’t there to love about a game like that?

Since that first game Crypto and his Commanding officer Pox have visited the 70’s, killed a lot of hippies and have owned a burger joint where the main ingredient was soylent green. Despite being fun games with some very funny moments throughout, the series has suffered from a sense of stagnation since it has not really evolved much since the original PS2 title from 2005. Does Path of the Furon take advantage of the new hardware of the 360, and a new developer in SandBlast, to truly bring Destroy All Humans! into the next generation of video games? Read on.

Let’s start with one area where the series has always been strong – the story of the game. It’s certainly not a deep story by any means, but throughout the series Crypto and Pox have remained great characters with some truly funny dialog. Path of the Furon is no exception. In the second game of the series, the storyline at times felt disjointed and all over the place, that isn’t a problem with Path of the Furon. The game starts with Crypto relaxing in Los Paradiso, which is meant to represent Las Vegas, and Pox chastising his current lazy status. His lazy attitude changes once there is an attack on his casino by the local mafia, and soon the situation spirals out of control and ends up involving a race of previously extinct alien cyborgs called the Nexos.

The story continues through several locations based off of the real world cities of Hollywood, Hong Kong, Paris, and then eventually takes you to the fourth ring of the Furon. Each of these locations feature their own small story arc that compliments the overall plot and are generally well thought out and pretty funny. One of the areas focuses on a plot that involves a cult that sounds a lot like Scientology, and the Honk Kong area of Shen Long benefits from a lot of inspiration from different Honk Kong movies for the story used in that section of the game.

One of the things that Path of the Furon does best is how it incorporates the side missions into the game. All of the missions are unlocked after completing specific story missions, and they relate to characters or parts of the main story progression. For example, in one of the main story missions you encounter a crooked police officer, and afterwards an optional side mission will include that character. Plus, many of the side missions are as well designed as the main story missions so instead of feeling like tacked on extras it’s worth taking the time to hunt these side missions down.

The way the story end is well done also, and for anyone following the story of Crypto up until this point should be satisfied in the conclusion.

Part of the reason the story of the game succeeds so well is due to the awesome voice acting jobs in the game. The voice actors of Crypto and Pox do a fantastic job as always of creating amusing banter between the two characters, and some jokes that might otherwise fall flat work just in the way the voice actors deliver their lines. Not all of the voice actors in the game are as well done, and if your a bit sensitive to hearing a stereotypical Asian accent then you might want to avoid the game altogether since the Hong Kong section of the game has probably the most offensive Asian accents ever heard in a game. All of the Asian people in the game have the same, “Me no rikey” accent that I personally didn’t find offensive, though others might. I just assumed they were spoofing the some of the way Asian people were presented in that time period.

Unfortunately, that’s the only area that was done very well in this game. Everything else is sort of an unpolished mess.

Let’s start of with one of the biggest offenders: the graphics.

Graphically, Path of the Furon isn’t a horrible looking game if you are looking at a screenshot. While it may not compare to most other next-gen games, it does look smoother and shinier than previous games in the series. When the game is in motion…well you know how with some Unreal engine games there’s the annoying amount of pop-in of textures? Like how there would be a delay in Mass Effect before the textures displayed? Take that problem and magnify it by ten. Texture pop-in is everywhere. Buildings will still be loading textures even as you are right next to them, shadows will flicker and disappear, some things will look blurry before the detail loads, and it’s insane.

This isn’t limited to just the textures either, vehicles, areas of the map, buildings, and more will pop into view even when you are almost right on top of them. There is a landing pad in Shen Long that looks just like water until you get close enough that the dock pops-in. This is even a problem in some of the in-game cutscenes! In the beginning of the game some of the mafia cars just appear out of nowhere! Later in the game there even appear to be missing scenes during a few cutscenes. There are one or two moments where a character blows up, and I have no clue what happened, except for how it’s explained through related dialog.

Many of the textures that don’t just suddenly pop up are bland. The prime example of this is the helicopters in the game that would’ve looked lame on the PS2, much less the 360. Buildings in the game are destroyable, just as they were in past DAH games, but instead of falling realistically they sort of just melt, like if you take a cake out of the oven too early.

That is not to say that all of the graphics are bad. The effects of many of the weapons are great, especially some of the new weapons such as the Black Hole Gun or the new Saucer weapon called the Tornadotron. After awhile it does become easier to ignore the constant texture issues and but even if all of the various graphical issues where fixed that game still wouldn’t look very impressive.

Where the game makes the largest improvements over the last games is in the streamlined controls and new weapons. Now it’s possible to glide in a jetpack while using psychokinesis (telekinesis) and fire a weapon at the same time. This might not seem like that big of a deal but once you get the hang of juggling all of the powers and weapons in the game then go back and play one of the older DAH games, it is a very noticeable difference.

Some of the new gameplay additions are just awesome. Some of the new weapons show off the creativity of the developers, with inclusions such as the Venus Human Trap, a gun that shoots a plant that will eat humans and also serves as a great defensive barrier. The Black Hole Gun is exactly what it sounds like; it creates small black holes that just absorb everything. There is also a new weapon called the Superballer that fires a ball that trails rainbows and lifts it’s target high into the air then smashes them, and anything in the way, into the ground. The Superballer is my least favorite addition merely because it’s too similar to the Dislocator. Even some of the older weapons receive upgrades, like the Anal Probe, which can now target multiple enemies at once.

In addition to the weapons Crypto has PK powers, which allow him to use telekinesis and even stop time. This is probably the coolest part of the whole game, and I hope someone shamelessly steals this concept from Path of the Furon. Later in the game Crypto develops a power called Temporal Fist, which allows him to stop time, and while time is stopped use his telekinesis abilities to not just move objects around but to change their direction and velocity once time resumes again. This means you can stop time and choose to have the enemies nearby either fly in all directions once time resumes or smash into each other. There are a number of very creative uses for this ability.

The time stopping ability can also be used with one of the weapons. The Ion Detonators are like remote sticky grenades. You can time, attached the Detonator to an enemy, detonate it and resume time. The explosion will only happen after time has resumed.

Crypto’s saucer receives some major upgrades throughout the game as well. In prior installments combat with the saucer was limited to mostly fighting ground units. In Path of the Furon there are large scale air-to-air battles and the upgrades in weaponry reflect that. Now other than the Destruct-o-ray, there are also Seeker Missiles, a machine gun style energy weapon, the Tornadotron that creates a giant tornado, and the Quantum Deconstructer.

All of these new weapons and abilities add for some violent new ways to dispatch enemies, and juggling all of the powers and weapons when trying to hold off a wave of enemies is fun to do. The biggest drawback to having so many powerful weapons and abilities is the fact that there’s nothing really in the game that can stand in your way. The other DAH games were also easy, but this one is nearly a walk in the park once you figure out how to use everything.

The enemy AI is set to brain dead since they only rush at you while firing. The enemy in the game doesn’t try to take cover or flank, it’s gun run and gun so the only time there’s ever a real problem is when the game spawns a lot of enemies at once. The poor AI also extends to the pedestrians and drivers that exist in the background, leading to some truly funny sights. The number of car crashes in this game are insane, and often these accidents will kill some of the non-player characters wandering around, which will lead DNA just floating towards Crypto from out of nowhere. Once I came across a bunch of the floating DNA and it turned out there was a six car pileup. I guess cars magically popping in and out all of the time can make it hard for even the NPC’s in the game to react.

One nice thing about the game is that there are some pretty interesting achievements to earn instead of the usual “Ëœcomplete level 3′ type or “Ëœuse a specific weapon X amount of times’. Most of these are easy and amusing side objectives that add to the overall experience.

No matter what I can say about the game’s technical issues or story or anything else, there’s something about the game that I’d like to make perfectly clear: If you are a fan of the series, you will probably like the game and none of the flaws are truly game-breaking, they’re just annoying. If you aren’t a fan of the series, the game doesn’t try to catch you up to see and the flaws will probably annoy you too much to give it a chance. If you can look past the flaws, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon is a fun game – it just feels like it was rushed out to take advantage of the holiday season and it really could’ve used a couple of more months in development.

Sadly, even if the game ran smoothly, it still would likely be just for fans of the series.

Final Scores:

Story: Very Good
Graphics: Poor
Sound: Great
Control/Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Below Average
Balance: Bad
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Decent
Appeal: Decent
Miscellaneous: Very Good

Final Score: Above Average Game

Short Attention Span Summary:
Keep in mind that I like the Destroy All Humans! series. Even with all of the new weapons and powers, the game still feels a little too similar to past games. The graphical glitches are horrible, and the whole thing feels more like a beta of the game than a finished game. With all that in mind, the story is still amusing and I enjoyed a lot of the new concepts like stopping time that are in Path of the Furon. It felt like there was a lot of potential with Path of the Furon, and while most of that potential was wasted there are still some bright moments and at a budget price it worth playing if you liked the other games.



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