While Grand Theft Auto 3 was far from the first open world game, many credit Rockstar’s 2001 title as one of the key foundations for the modern interpretation of that genre thanks to its (at-the-time) revolutionary mission design and player freedom. After garnering record sales numbers, critical and fan acclaim and two equally-beloved sequels in the years that followed, it came as no surprise when other developers attempted to capture the magic of causing chaos in Liberty City. While it would still be several years before players saw the likes of Saints Row or Assassin’s Creed, the now-defunct Pandemic Studios had their own ideas on how to embrace the increasingly-popular trend. In addition to the militaristic sandbox of Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, 2005 also saw Pandemic launch Destroy All Humans, a satirical sci-fi game that embraced zany action and unique abilities to help it stand out among its peers.
In Destroy All Humans, players control a member of the alien species Furon known as Crypto as they travel to Earth in the mid-19th century with a goal of harvesting humans and furthering the advancement of their race. Much like Rockstar’s parodic interpretation of New York City, Destroy All Humans takes place in the likes of Santa Modesta and Captiol City, which are accessible from their central hub, the alien mothership. Crypto has access to numerous alien weapons, tools and abilities, including disintegrator rays, jet packs and psychokinesis among others, quickly ensuring players have plenty of enticing ways to create disorder and turmoil wherever they go. A couple of stealthier options were present as well, such as holo disguises, and Crypto could also use their saucer for quick traversal as well as more powerful means of destruction.
At the time of its launch, Destroy All Humans garnered a greater fondness from fans than critics, but ultimately never reached the lofty heights it aimed for. While the original is still regarded to this day as a cult classic, its multiple sequels that followed paled in comparison by failing to properly expand on the core premise, as other studios attempted to step in after Pandemic was acquired by EA in 2007. With no new releases in the franchise since 2008 and with THQ closing their doors in 2013, little hope existed for the franchise to receive any sort of follow-up despite the continued advancement of the open world genre. But at last year’s E3, THQ Nordic announced a remake of the 2005 original with the team at Black Forest Games taking the helm. Featuring an enhanced presentation and a brand-new mission based on a scrapped sequence from the original game, the remake of Destroy All Humans looks to capitalize on nostalgia from current fans while also still providing a unique premise that remains as enticing now as it did fifteen years ago.
Much like with any remake, fans of the original have little reason not to feel grateful after a decade away from Crypto and their mischievous exploits. At a starting price point of $30, it may not seem like THQ Nordic expects the remake to draw in massive numbers, which is justified by the gradual lack of interest in the three sequels that followed. But while Destroy All Humans can’t compete with the large-scale open worlds of Rockstar anymore, the space for medium-sized sandbox games still remains strong, as the likes of Journey to the Savage Planet and Subnautica have shown the value of well-crafted environments with a relatively smaller scope. This space could serve well for a potential attempt at a fully new Destroy All Humans, embracing more modern open world mechanics at a reasonable scope while still embracing the chaos and freedom that long-time fans continue to return to the original for. But any chance of a new entry in the franchise will likely depend on how well the remake fares, both in terms of general reception and sales, so for now, eager fans will just have to wait a little longer for their return trip to Pandemic’s sci-fi adventure. Destroy All Humans beams down to Earth on July 28 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.