A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game features plenty of killing: killing innocents, police officers, soldiers, government agents, the president, and even cows. But the game's mischievous, playful tone defuses much of the impact of the violence. While blowing the brains out of a victim's head through overzealous use of an anal probe sounds horrific, it's played for laughs and presented with the kitschy sheen of 1950s alien invasion movies.
What's it about?
Earth (specifically America) in the 1950s looks pretty harmless from space in DESTROY ALL HUMANS!, the latest third-person sci-fi shooter from THQ. Perhaps that's why the warlike Furon race has decided to invade the planet and enslave its human inhabitants. It might also have to do with collecting human DNA to revitalize the fading alien race, or maybe the Furon scout that was accidentally shot down over a military test site. Whatever the reason, the people of Earth aren't going to stand idly by as aliens turn the sun's third planet into an intergalactic war zone and genetic harvesting ground.
Players control Cryptosporidium, the sarcastic and mean Furon solider leading the invasion. Crypto has to solve some minor puzzles -- such as impersonating a small-town mayor to convince locals that recent alien activity is actually the work of Soviet spies, or hypnotizing a TV personality. But most of the gameplay focuses on street-level battles between Crypto and human forces, or saucer-bound aerial assaults where buildings are destroyed, people are vaporized, and cars are sent to the junk heap.
Is it any good?
It's a fun premise, but while these battles can be thrilling, they get repetitive. Every building starts to look the same, all the humans explode in the same burst of flames, and the thrill begins to wane. Add to that the unending quest for DNA and boring mini-missions, and you've got a game that makes a great immediate impact but offers little replay appeal.
There is one unsettlingly realistic segment where players can destroy the White House, the Capitol, and other familiar Washington, D.C., monuments. Parents may want to think twice about buying this for kids who might find the destruction of such iconic structures unsettling, especially in a time when the threat of terrorism has many on edge. This is a playful, kitschy, but ultimately unsubstantial game experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether comic relief and a playful spirit make the violence in this game more palatable. Can a game that keeps track of the number of buildings you raze and humans you slaughter ever qualify as good clean fun? In an era when threats of terrorism dominate the news, is there anything unseemly about being able to destroy a digital model of Washington, D.C.?
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