Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon (Xbox 360)
Let's be honest with ourselves: The Destroy All Humans! games have never been great. They've never been visually groundbreaking, or envelope-pushing, or anything that would make them rank among the crowning achievements of interactive entertainment. What they have been, though, are equal parts a good silly chuckle and some good mindless fun. Well, the first two were, anyway; the disappointing Big Willy Unleashed, which came out earlier this year, was good for a laugh but not much else.
Thankfully, Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon -- which is only coming to the Xbox 360 after the PlayStation 3 edition was cancelled at the last minute -- is a return of form for the series. That it doesn't take things any further isn't great, but it's not a fatal flaw, either.
Picking up where Willy ended (though you need not have finished that game to get what's going on in this one), Furon finds our hero Cryptosporidium running a casino in Las Vegas, er Las Paradiso, during the swinging '70s. But when his casino is attacked, Crypto has to do what he does best to get it back: Destroy Some Humans!
Besides zapping pesky humans with his ray gun, Crypto can also use his mind to pick them up. And not in a fun "Do you live around here often?" kind of way.
Like the other games, Furon is ostensibly a third-person shooter set in a sandbox world with some bouts of vehicular manslaughter, stealth infiltration and other forms of comic mischief -- which is a fancy way of saying you basically run around, destroy stuff, and hurt people. Except it's never as dire as that sounds. The game has a cartoonish and satirical bent, one that parodies sci-fi films, alien conspiracy clich?s and human foibles equally. There's no blood or gore, even when you are popping someone's brain out of their head. It's no accident that your boss, Orthopox, is voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz, who cut his alien teeth as the voice of Zim in the hilarious 'toon "Invader Zim."
Of course, being a new model -- and the first on a next-generation console -- Furon boasts a couple interesting upgrades. Your jetpack has been tweaked, as have your weapons, while your new saucer has a few tricks under its hood. Your mental abilities have also improved, despite your obviously slack lifestyle, which makes tossing people and things around with your mind that much more entertaining. They've even added a trio of competitive multiplayer modes that include a very loose variation on Capture the Flag called Abductarama, though all are oddly just offline split-screen even though the box clearly has the Xbox Live logo.
Here we see Crypto using his saucer's beam weapon to carve a swear word into his ex-girlfriend's office building. Because he's mature like that.
But while the game's single-player story is all-new, with new missions and new locations, this still feels a lot like the first two games. As in the rest of them, your missions boil down to destroying some things, killing someone, and taking over people's bodies so you can sneak into a location where you have to destroy some things or kill someone. All of this can still be fun, though there are times when you'll feel a sense of d?j? vu.
There's also a kind of rushed feeling to it all, a certain sloppiness that will have you thinking they should've spent a bit more time polishing it up. During especially populous battles, for example, things can slow down to a crawl, while other glitches cause button icons to go missing or audio to drop out. There are also times when the text, especially in the tutorial button prompts in the beginning, is so small that you'll have to -- shudder -- read the manual.
The game also suffers from many of the same fundamental problems that plagued the first two. Though it has a Grand Theft Auto-style open-world structure, it doesn't take much advantage of it, save for giving you bigger areas in which to wreak havoc. Sure, there are some side-missions, but nothing too compelling, and the same could be said for just wandering around, exploring the countryside. As a result, this -- like so many open-world games that aren't named for felonies -- would've been better with a more rigid, linear structure.
Despite his advanced alien intelligence, Crypto still doesn't always remember to look both ways before crossing the street.
The developers also didn't seem to take real advantage of all the power the 360 has to offer. While some of the environments are bigger here than in the earlier games, they're not any more elaborate. In fact, though this looks better than the earlier games, the overall graphics are something of a letdown. Not that we'd want this to look like Gears of War or Mass Effect, but we at least expected it rival such similarly cartoony games as Naruto: Rise of a Ninja or Team Fortress 2.
In the end, Furon is no better and no worse than 2006's Destroy All Humans! 2, and if you didn't like that game or the original, you probably shouldn't bother with this. But if all you hoped was for it to be as fun as its predecessor, or not as bad as Willy, Furon is (if you'll pardon the Crypto-esque pun) a path worth taking.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.