It's the sixties, ten years after the Furons first landed on Earth. Crypto (the lead alien from the first game) has been made President of the United States, and the fun-loving, free-living hippies have been too 'preoccupied' to notice. The party can't go on forever, though, and the Soviets take it upon themselves to bring about a change of power. So, as Furon scientist Pox is experimenting onboard the mother ship, the KGB launch a missile strike, blowing the ship and Pox to bits, resulting in a avalanche of debris falling to earth. Don't worry too much though; Pox is alive and well, at least in mind, if not in body.
After a rather explosive opening that sees Crypto fending off a number of KGB agents, it's time to reacquaint yourself with Pox. His mind has been downloaded to a Helpox unit and he arrives along with a rather worse for wear flying saucer. This new holographic Pox hands out missions and regularly updates you on what you need to do as you progress through the game. He's clearly not a guy to let his lack of body hold him back, as he also runs a shop from within the saucer, which lets you buy upgrades for your weapons, jetpack and saucer.
While the saucer isn't available to take for a spin from the start, a few collected saucer repair pods soon get it back in tiptop shape. This time around the world (or at least each area) is entirely free-roaming, so Crypto never leaves the game world. It just so happens that numerous saucer landing sites have been marked by Arkvoodle statues. Arkvoodle is a Furon god, and he sets little tasks that must be completed in order to activate each site. Once activated, each site allows you to call in or land the saucer, enter Pox-Mart, and mess around with some gene blending.
Saucer flying is largely similar to the control system from the first game. You start out with a basic death ray, and once again your aim is restricted to objects placed at a certain distance in front of the craft. Despite being advanced alien technology, it's surprisingly vulnerable to human weapons, so it's vital you keep the shield charged. In a piece of science that would only makes sense in a video game, your saucer can drain energy from human vehicles, so hovering above a car and tapping the 'circle' button replenishes your shield. Humans come in handy, too, with genes from abducted bodies being blended to create ability upgrades.
To keep Crypto in the game world NPCs and Pox hand out the main story and side missions, and these pan out as you'd expect if you've played the original game. You get a mix of tasks such as finding a certain person or destroying certain vehicles, but there is one major change that significantly alters the way the game plays. Instead of taking on the guise of a person to infiltrate off-limit areas, you now perform body snatches. This means you actually enter the body of your target, but doing so in a public area will raise a few eyebrows.
If you're spotted entering the body of an innocent bystander you'll need to wipe the minds of the witnesses. This can be done in a few ways, but the best sees you sending the message of free love, causing anyone in the close vicinity of your target to lose their mind, and start dancing. Another mind power lets you scan minds for info, and while it's often some comical garbage about an insignificant part of life, it can also be vital mission information. Most humans will only talk to other humans, while Pox will only talk to you while you're an alien, so you spend a lot of time hopping in and out of bodies.
Causing destruction and destroying humans doesn't go unnoticed, and the more you do, the more people will be on your tail. A few policemen aren't much trouble, but when the army gets involved you'll regret using Psychokinesis to throw a random guy into the path of an oncoming car. All isn't lost though, as coppers can be body snatched in the same way as a normal person - although they tend to put up more of a fight. While in control of said policeman you can place a call to the local station, giving the all clear, and returning the alert level to normal.
As with the original game, the story doesn't take itself seriously, and neither does the script. Transmissions from Pox are genuinely funny, and you'll regularly laugh at random comments from NPCs. In-game cutscenes are often worthy of a chuckle or two as well, with early scenes featuring the standard overdone evil laugh and a man who insists on spitting on his enemies. The first boss you'll encounter is a perfect example of the game's tongue-in-cheek nature. A hippie going by the name 'Bongwater' sees himself as some kind of hippie revolutionary, and with the help of the KGB he tries to use his Revelade (some kind of drink) to make a new America. He of course meets his doom, but not before he's used his hippy gun on you.
The entire game looks to be full of comedy moments, and it won't be restricted to one country either. Eventually you'll be able to leave the American Bay City, and travel to Albion in England and three other cities. London is complete with local bobbies, red double-decker busses, minis, and a rather outrageously stereotypical M16 agent - played by none other than Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. It's all good fun, and never takes itself seriously.
Being a current-gen title, Destroy All Humans! 2 can't compete visually with the likes of Saints Row and Just Cause on the Xbox 360, but compared to San Andreas it's not a bad looking title at all. Explosion and weapon effects are by far the most impressive aspect, but the solid frame rate is worthy of a mention. The environments feel a little empty, especially when you're flying your saucer more than a few metres above ground, but fogging is a small price to pay for solid performance and excellent levels of destruction.
I've already touched on the humour in the game, but it's the voice acting that pushes it beyond what is expected in a video game. Crypto's voice is perfect, sounding scarily like Jack Nicholson, and his lines are always delivered perfectly. The rest of the cast don't let the side down either, and an impressive score (once again from Garry Schyman) is perfectly in keeping with the 60s setting and the feeling of the game.
Destroy All Humans! 2 is certainly shaping up to be a great follow-up title, especially for fans of the first game, but a few areas are a little worrying. I'm yet to see all the game has to offer, but there seems to be a lack of variety in what you can do when you're not on a main mission, and the armed forces get heavy pretty quickly. This makes carrying out certain missions next to impossible without first reducing the threat level. Dying isn't nearly as frustrating as it was in the original, as the main missions now feature checkpoints, but numerous side missions forced me to start over again, which is more than a little annoying.
My time with Destroy All Humans! 2 left me sure that fans will get exactly what they want from a sequel. The core missions seem plentiful and diverse, while side missions and collectables are there for completists, and co-op mode will even let you team up with a friend. How well the game holds up once the latter cities are unlocked will be subject of our review, but assuming the game doesn't suddenly lose its sense of humour, it's hard to see it being anything less than fun.
Destroy All Humans! 2 will be released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the UK on October 20.