The first Destroy All Humans! game was a blessed in many ways. While probably intended as a niche title, the fact that it was an open-ended sandbox game released before the market became completely saturated with them was a definite bonus. That it also featured a clever title that made everyone take notice and that it was in essence a funny, clever game that received great reviews were all reasons for its success and its inevitable sequel. As sequels go however, we will always expect more from a franchise than a stand-alone title and herein lies the catch-22: give your existing audience enough new material to keep them entertained (without alienating them - no pun intended), but don't change the formula that made your series successful in the first place. DAH2 carefully walks this fine line, but in the end, its concept isn't as fresh as it once was and while it's nice to play as Crypto again, DAH2 is released in a time when next-gen is taking over the market and current-gen games have to make even more of an impression to garner attention. In this respect, DAH2 may be playing it a bit too safe.
For me, the highlight of Destroy All Humans! 2 was its clever premise. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a sequel with a better concept. The 50's are over and we are now in the Swingin' 60's, Baby! Crypto has managed to clone the President of the United States and is living a lascivious lifestyle that would make Bill Clinton blush. As the POTUS, he is now in charge of the American government and having the time of his life. But with all his libidinous lifestyle, he neglects to do anything about the Cold War threat and soon enough, the KGB blow up Crypto's Mothership (as well as Pox, who escapes is holographic form) and attempt to assassinate the POTUS (Crypto himself). Crypto must then come to grips with the hippies, the KGB, the Cold War itself and the secret Soviet scheme that threatens the world.
Unfortunately, what start as one of the best premises ever in a videogame falls a little flat afterwards in the story department. The rest of the game is simply a loose collection of events designed to get as many jokes and gags into the mix. Anyone and everyone is targeted and few get off unscathed. While the dialog is clever and funny (and amazingly delivered), the story and the missions themselves aren't enough to really carry the game with great interest. Gone are the stealth elements from DAH (thank God), but they are replaced with very generic "get a disguise, find a certain person, have a funny conversation, lose your disguise, get chased by MIB/police/army" missions that are actually the dullest part of the game.
On the flip side, Crypto can still hover, body snatch, zap, maim and probe with the best of them. His saucer is also back, but for whatever reason, it simply isn't as fun as in the first game where laying waste to an entire town was both incredibly fulfilling and entertaining. Thankfully, while the story missions are very ho-hum, the extra objectives and "free" missions you can take part in are a blast. There are also numerous objects hidden throughout the levels and tons of upgrades to perform on Crypto's gear and saucer. The game also tracks an insane amount of stats for you, and in so doing, will keep you playing just to see what levels you can get to. Also, what makes the game a lot of fun is the ability to have a friend pick up a second controller and help you play co-operatively. Yes, there are limitations to this and you can't stray as far away from your teammate as some would like, but it's still a lot of fun.
The real reason many of us enjoyed the first DAH game was its sense of humor. Long after I would have normally turned off a different game, I kept on mind-probing innocent passer-byes just to see what they'd have to say. While DAH was drenched in conservative 50's sensibilities, DAH2 is a game that fully embraces its 60's time-period. While the hippy shtick does get a little old after a while (why does everyone have to speak like Tommy Chong), there are so many funny musings, thoughts and quick gags to keep everyone entertained; fans of history, pop culture, the Cold War, the Beatles, Austin Powers, etc will all find hilarious references sown throughout the game. And while many of Crypto's conversations go on far too long, we never find the willingness to skip them simply because we might miss the best lines.
Musically, DAH2 features a lot of original material that references known 60's themes as well as some very funny original songs. The highlight in this department though, is again, the voice acting, most notably the sour, dead-pan Pox and the Jack Nicholson-sounding Crypto. What these two have to say is always entertaining and well delivered. TV fans will also no doubt be thrilled to hear Anthony Stewart Head (yes, Giles from Buffy) as Ponsonby and Courtenay Taylor (wonderful voice actress) as Natalya, the token Super-spy vixen. DAH2 features some of the cleverest commentary ever on the 60's as well as some completely irreverent satire and social comments that are always entertaining and funny. If it's not already obvious, DAH2 is worth playing just for its audio portion. It easily steals the show and would easily get me to play the next sequel without hesitation.
Graphically, DAH2 makes great use of the Havoc engine, but overall, things seem a little bland. While the 60's were indeed colorful, and so is this game, the characters (hippies, KGB, etc) all lack detail and seem to all blend into one another. Using the first game as a reference, this game also feels a little less fun in certain instances. The levels of the original game seemed more alive and with more nooks and crannies to explore.
In the end, Destroy All Humans! 2 removes all the annoying issues from the first game, but also feels a little too safe in certain instances. The story (except for the basic premise) feels a little tacked on and it's really the side-missions and exploration that will keep you playing. That is not to say that DAH2 is not worthy of your time, it still remains a fun romp through the sixties with the most jaded guide you could ever hope for. Crypto remains a supremely fun character and hopefully we'll get to see him again soon on next-gen hardware. A fun diversion.