Last year's debut for the series brought some new twists to the sandbox genre, but also restricted players greatly with what they could do both in and out outside of missions. Now, Pandemic has given players more freedom, but still has a lot of work to do if they want this to become a premiere sandbox series and not just a novelty act. As far as the story goes, since becoming President of the United States in the original, the wise-cracking Crypto 137 is now dead, leaving one of his many clones, Crypto 138, to take over while the KGB attempts to bring America down.
Returning from the original are Crypto's sharp wit (complete with Jack Nicholson-esque voice) and satire based on the pop culture of its setting's time. Heavy in groovy tunes and hippies, the time period seems to be represented fairly well. Unlike the ‘50s era of the first, ‘60s parody is far more common, making the comedy here seem worn out, especially since it lacks any real depth, doesn't go for any new '60s satire targets, and relies on self-referential material.
Most of the jokes just have one very obvious meaning that you're then beaten over the head with. The lack of subtle or obscure jokes hurts it as well. Before, I got some laughs out of a subtle Dragnet reference that fit the first game's restrictive authority figures perfectly. Now, there isn't a single Dragnet reference (despite it being set in a time when the TV show was revived), but there are tons of hackneyed weed jokes, and a lot of jokes simply that don‘t make sense for a game taking place in the late ‘60s (most notably, Matrix and Kill Bill jokes).
Its witty humor helped the first game seem unique, its premise of putting you in the role of an alien who could take over bodies and also blow the world up with a flying saucer made it stand out even more. Now, that concept isn't as fresh, and it doesn't hold up as well as it should. Much of the problem is due to so little being added. The biggest improvement in DAH! 2 comes from the ability to skip the lengthy ship-boarding sequence. Nearly everything comes off as a retread of the first game, and while that does make it better than a lot of stuff on the market, it's still sad to see so few improvements.
Neither major part of the gameplay has been given many enhancements beyond co-op play. The saucer's cloaking ability is new, as are some of the new attacks during the on-foot sections, but neither improves on the experience much considering that this is supposed to be an all-new game, and with so few new things, this ends up feeling like an add-on pack instead. Fortunately, what's here is very fun to play. I just wish there was more variety in the gameplay.
The on-foot sections do require a fair amount of cunning to get through, and certainly get your blood pumping when your disguise is about to wear thin and you'll then become the target of every cop within earshot of the command to kill you on sight. Unfortunately, they're also the least fun to just screw around with, since you've got such a tight time limit on how long you can use a given disguise, and you have very little variety in what you can do while in either alien or human form. Due to those limitations, saucer flight ends up being where the game shines, even if it too could use some major upgrades. When you're in that monstrosity, you can beam up and gene splice humans, drain vehicles to heal yourself, throw humans and cars around (including into water), or simply incinerate every car and human being you see. It would've been nice to also be able to destroy every building as well, but I guess that just couldn't be done on the current-gen hardware.
I'm disappointed in the visuals as well. Very few upgrades have been made, and the original wasn't exactly the prettiest game in the world when it came out. It doesn't look terrible or anything like that, it's just hampered by a lot of fog, draw distance issues, and graphical glitches (like a green truck magically becoming a white and pink VW Van). I think that it would have benefited greatly from a few more months of development time, which could have at least reduced the amount of fog and increased the draw distance. On the plus side, nearly everything in the game's universe looks sharp when it isn‘t affected by fog, and the lip synching is impressive as well. It matches up with what's being said most of the time, and features a lot of mouth movements to keep the dialogue looking correct to the eye.
The audio is fairly decent, with the voice acting being its highlight. The music is mainly a bunch of stereotypical '60s-style groovy songs, and not particularly good ones. It does work at getting across the setting though, so it's got that working for it. The use of a theremin (or a sound-alike instrument) helps get across the sci-fi stuff (such as everything involving the aliens), while the groovy music fits the hippies. Unfortunately, none of the other music really works well, and even the stuff that does work particularly isn't memorable. Fortunately, the voice actors almost made up for the downfalls here. They managed to make the script shine, and added life to characters where it was otherwise lacking. Hopefully the third game gives them better material to work with.
Overall, Destroy All Humans! 2 is a solid, but unmemorable game. The first stood out because it featured a unique premise and sharp humor, this lacks either of those, and ends up feeling like a mere add-on pack to the first instead of its own game. There's nothing particularly bad about the game, but also nothing spectacular about it. It's simply a good game that does a lot of things right, but not better than before. As a fan of the first, I was disappointed by just how similar this is to it. Other fans of the first would be wise to wait for a price drop. There is no good reason to spend $50 on this, especially when the first can be found for $20 and packs in two B-movies as extras. Since there are plans to keep this series going, I hope it's kept on next-gen hardware, since it's very obvious that the current generation just wasn't enough to make this game's vision come to reality. An increase in hardware should at least correct the pop-up problems, and an increase in development time could have remedied the glitches, and fixed some of the humor issues as well.