Destroy All Humans: Path of the Furon is a polarizing game. It aimed to bring the series to next-gen with a bang, but technical issues and other problems marred the game, resulting in poor reviews and lackluster sales. Much of it stems from Sandblast, the developer of this game, facing severe layoffs and being shut down in the latter half of 2008 when publisher THQ got hit by the financial recession from that year.
In preparing for this retrospective, I reached to former Sandblast developers for interview, but they declined my requests. The intent was to learn about the making of this game, and if anything changed between when it was worked on and what we ended up getting. The month before this retrospective came out, inside sources came to me with information about the game's development. One of the individuals was a tester on Destroy All Humans 2, Big Willy Unleashed, and Path of the Furon, and he shared with me his recollections on his time as a tester for the games. The other person provided me with design documents used during Big Willy Unleashed and Path of the Furon's development.
After combing through the documents like an archaeologist, I'm going to discuss the content altered/removed in Destroy All Humans: Path of the Furon, as well as briefly discuss the PS3 version of this game, which, while not released in North America, did come out in Europe and Australia.
(DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM BUILDS OF THE GAME FROM FEBRUARY AND MARCH OF 2008, AS WELL AS THE TESTER'S STORIES)
In Path of the Furon, references to Natalya only consist of one mention during the mission "Everybody Bags a Body Sometime" on the Fourth Ring of Furon. According to the documents, after completing one of the story missions in Belleville, Crypto would have brought up to Pox the time he brought Natalya to Belleville for a romantic night out.
THE FOLLOWING IS DIALOGUE NOT SEEN IN THE FINAL GAME:
- CRYPTO: "Ahhh, Belleville...You know, the last time I was here was for that romantic menage-a-trois with Natalya and a buxom French maid."
- POX: "Yes...a shame about Natalya. She was certainly a formidable female, for a human. The candle that burns twice as brightly only burns half as long."
- CRYPTO: "Yeah, well how was I supposed to know if I used your cloning device to bring her back to life she'd only have a four-year lifespan?"
- POX: "It serves you right wasting my very last emergency clone mold on a human! I hope those four years were worth it!"
- CRYPTO: "They were. Believe me."
Fans for the franchise assume Big Willy Unleashed is just a spin-off and nothing more, especially since the events of the game are never acknowledged in Path of the Furon, even though a Big Willy's restaurant is in Las Paradiso. One of the things cut from the final game were random missions that would start if the player ended up at a certain location. In Las Paradiso, if the player approached the drive-in menu at the Big Willy's, this was supposed to trigger a mission where Crypto needs to deliver food to different spots across town. While making the deliveries, Crypto and Pox would have reflected on their time running the restaurant and the changes made to the place since they sold off the business. Thus, this means Big Willy Unleashed is canon, but all references to the restaurant were cut in the final product.
One other detail regards the DNA system. In the game, brains automatically eject from humans when they're killed and will float towards Crypto when he's close to them. During the opening missions in Las Paradiso, Pox would explain to Crypto that he had modified his weapons to where they would not automatically extract the brain stem from a human when killed, but brains acquired this way are less valuable than those acquired via the extract ability. Additionally, Pox would have told Crypto that his new suit was capable of attracting nearby brain stems, hence why they float towards Crypto when they pop out of a human.
Every level in the game had missions, main and side, which were cut from the final product, and some of the missions in the final version featured different objectives in the earlier builds. In Las Paradiso, there's a story mission where Crypto infiltrates an army base to steal canisters of radioactive waste to fuel the saucer, but there was also a mission planned in which he would intercept a convoy to steal parts Pox needed to further improve the saucer. A side mission featured in the earlier builds saw Crypto ruining the reputation of the Molinaris even more by body-snatching Mikey Molinari and embarrassing him in front of Liberoni, a flamboyant piano player. Liberoni is mentioned briefly during one of the challenges in Las Paradiso, but you never actually see him.
In Sunnywood, Crypto helps the Lunarians garner more attention by sabotaging production of a remake of the film "Invasion of the Bodymorphers" so the studio is forced to fast track production of the Lunarians' movie. In the final game, the movie is never brought up again after the mission "Invasion of the Bodymorphers," but in earlier builds, there were going to be missions where Crypto kidnapped members of the production crew needed for the picture like a writer, director, and leading actor. The last one involved Crypto possessing Jack Trippleson, a spoof of Jack Nicholson, and getting him into a filming accident so a new actor is hired for "Bodymorphers."
This would have provided context to a line in the final game where Crypto, in disguise as the Disco King, mentions to the producer, "In case you haven't heard, Trippleson's been out of action." Speaking of the Disco King, in the same "Bodymorphers" mission, you originally had to body-snatch a female and lure the Disco King away from the crowd to avoid attention when you snatched him to get inside, but in the final game, you simply walk up and snatch him in broad daylight.
Veronica Stone is a reporter who helps Crypto try to expose the leader of the Lunarians, Dr. C. Curt Calvin. During the mission "We Make the News for You," you have to protect the van she's being held in after Lunarians kidnap her while she's covering a story. At one point, Lunarians show up on the bridge above and are supposed to rain explosive barrels down that Crypto needed to catch and throw back at them. They never do that in the game, even though if you look closely at the footage playing in the background on the main menu, they do. Additionally, extra side missions were planned to further the side-story of Stone becoming a successful reporter, but in the final game, this is abandoned after a couple of side-quests in Sunny-Wood and Shen Long.
One of the other cut side-quests in Sunny-Wood saw Crypto zapping designated targets using a large magnifying glass the Lunarians built. The intent is to scare people into signing up for their organization. Also, the side mission "The Great Cult Escape" originally required players to only damage the Lunarian buildings to scare people out, not destroy them. Then, you landed the saucer and used the PK ability to bring them over instead of abducting them en masse.
Much of what happens in Shen Long remains the same in the old and final versions of the game, with a few exceptions, but some of the dialogue during a cut-scene for the mission "Fist of Furon" was heavily altered from its original version. Recalling his time on Path of the Furon, the tester brought up this moment, saying:
"In the release version, after Pox suggests that a "More articulate affront to Saxon's grandiloquent philosophy might draw him out," an extremely bizarre segment is observed where Crypto blurts out a nonsensical, disjointed sentence made up of a series of jump cuts interspersed with flashes of white:
"Saxon! The pusillanimous...craven...decimated...impudent..malingerer?!"
Needless to say, when we first saw this, Crypto's next line of dialogue- "What the hell did I just say?" -seemed more than a little meta, as we were sure that we'd all just witnessed some kind of timing bug or build corruption. But no, it turned out the developers had intentionally edited the scene that way for reasons that, even now, almost a decade later, still escape me. The initial version of that line was actually coherent (not to mention funny), as Crypto was trying to make a grandiose callout speech while Pox fed him two-dollar words:
"Saxon! I've...decimated...your feeble men! Foiled your...impudent plan! Will you face me? Or... continue to hide in the shadows like a... craven... pusillanimous...malingerer?!"
On the subject of "Fist of Furon," before taking to the skies to defend the monastery from waves of enemy helicopters, the player had to protect the Master and his students from an assault by White Dragon soldiers, which explains the piles of dead White Dragon members present in the cut-scene after Crypto defends the monastery and meets Saxon for the first time.
Additionally, there was a detection meter the player had to watch during the side mission "Hail to the Chief," which would go up and down depending on how close Crypto is to the police chief he follows. In the final game, after snatching a human, the Chief casually makes his way to the destination, and does not stop, no matter how close the player gets to him.
A later mission titled "Walk this Way" involves summoning a Nexo Walker to destroy the police station. While luring the walker on a trail of destruction, Crypto needed to capture footage of the creature for Veronica Stone, while also fending off soldiers, tanks, and helicopters trying to take the walker down. In the final game, the player only has to defend the walker as it automatically makes its way over to the police headquarters.
Similar to Shen Long, many of Belleville's missions remained the same, but a couple of side-quests were cut. The mission "Battle at Chateau Crousteau" originally involved infiltrating Jacque Crousteau's mansion via an underground passage, where gamers would have to avoid security cameras and spotlights dotted around the place. Additional side tasks involving Pox coming up with ways to improve the acquired Chateau were cut as well, leaving only two side missions devoted to this sub-plot.
The Fourth Ring of Furon and its respective missions stayed intact, save for a scrapped side mission where Crypto faces off against an impostor he nicknames "Crapto." During the second-to-last mission "A-pox-alypse Now," Crypto originally had to fend off Nexo walkers and Nexo soldiers, in addition to the saucers who are the only force that attacks him in the final version of said mission.
Path of the Furon's boss fights are very disappointing. They're easy, uncomplicated, and require little thought or strategy in taking them down, but how these fights played out originally vastly differs from what we got, and it's quite jarring. In Shen Long, the final boss is against Saxon's dragon,which takes place on a cliffside in the Shen Long waters. The fight boils down to dodging the dragon's missiles (because dragons can do that?) and using the temporal fist to send them flying back at the dragon, stunning the creature for a few seconds.
Initially, the fight took place on a series of floating pillars connected by platforms. To weaken the dragon, the player had to stop time and expose a weak point hidden on the dragon. Meanwhile, the creature could do things like set fire to the pillars Crypto was standing on or destroy the platforms connecting them together.
In Belleville, Crypto faces off against Crousteau's giant squid at the Belleville Tower, which is a riff on the Eiffel Tower. The squid attacks the player using its tentacles and beams of electricity, but in earlier builds, the squid could regain health by eating junk from the river, as well as send out smaller squids to distract Crypto. Each fight also features dialogue not heard in the game, and the dialogue during this encounter suggests Crypto might have finished off the creature using the black hole gun, but in the final game, you just shoot it a lot until it dies.
Finally, the Fourth Ring of Furon culminates in a fight against Emperor Meningitis; specifically, the emperor's security system, which is a giant sculpture of his face. In the first half of the encounter, Crypto's guns are taken away, and you must use the temporal fist to catch explosive bombs and send them flying at the chords connected to his face. After severing all three chords, Crypto regains his weapons and uses them to destroy the mask. Originally, the chords rotated around, and the bombs launched at the player were color-coded to reflect which chord had to be destroyed with what bomb. Additionally, after severing the chords, the floor was supposed to cave in, resulting in an aerial battle for the second half of this encounter.
Multiplayer is a bit confusing. According to an old trailer made when development of the game had just started, production manager David Bollesen explained the team was looking into incorporating online features like DLC and multiplayer, but whether or not in-game co-op was planned is unclear. A preview published by Game Informer mentioned split-screen and online multiplayer were in the works, but in the final game, it just split-screen multiplayer, with a handful of lackluster modes.
One mode planned that was cut is called Goliath. In it, one player controls Crypto and the other a Crypto who's piloting the saucer. Player one has to reach three safe zones while avoiding the saucer, and if the three safe zones are cleared, player one can take out the saucer, but if he died before reaching them, player two won. Various previews published by IGN, Gamespot, and Destructoid, meaning it was intended to be in the game, but at a certain point, it was cut.
Some of the landing zones you can unlock had different requirements in previous builds and might have been in different locations than where they ended up in the final product. For example, in Sunny-Wood, one Arkvoodle statue required the player to feed humans to a shark living on the coast of the beach, while another had to be unlocked by throwing humans at the Sunny-Wood sing. Of course, there were also the previously mentioned unmarked side-quests which would start if Crypto was at a certain location.
Path of the Furon was originally scheduled to be released in September, and to get players excited for what was to come, THQ was going to release a demo on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The demo starts on a mission, not sure which one; afterwards, the player is given the option to do the next one, or go on a rampage for the remainder of the demo's length. Numerous articles reference said demo, but like everything else discussed above, it was scrapped.
Looking at the trailers leading up to the game's release shows the title looked a lot more polished than in the final release. Everything had more detail, the visuals were colorful, and weapons like the ion detonator shook and rattled the camera when used. Humans had actual ragdoll, instead of the stiff movements in the final game, and the Disintegrator Ray, which fires B.B. gun pellets in the final game, originally fired off massive balls of energy. Scanning the trailer also shows vehicles not seen anywhere in the final game, like muscle cars and tour buses, and in the saucer, pedestrians had actual movement, instead of being black figures which float around the place like in the final product.
THE PLAYSTATION 3 VERSION
Let's quickly discuss the PlayStation 3 version, which was only released in Europe and Australia; in short, it's sub-par. The graphics look worse, especially the visual effects for the seeker drones and plasma cannons, and the glitches are more rampant. Sure, bodies do ragdoll and take damage when an object other than car is thrown at them, but everything else about it looks and feels sloppy, more so than the Xbox 360 version. Thus, if you need to experience next-gen anal probing, stick with the Xbox 360 version, and don't import.
For years, I was aware the game had a visual downgrade, due to having watched the trailers for a now ten-year-old game one too many times, but when the inside sources came to me with the design documents, I was not prepared for all of the content referenced in earlier builds that's not seen anywhere in the final game. A lot of it, especially the boss fights, was fairly ambitious, and sifting through all the information, I could tell Sandblast had good intentions with Path of the Furon. Yet, had the game came out during the intended release of summer/September 2008, it's hard to tell whether or not if it would have been lambasted by critics like it did when it finally released.
Personally, I think the game would have done fine critically, but it is a shame knowing all of the hard work Sandblast put into it went down the drain once THQ decided to lay off the staff and close the studio. However, what I do know is many of the individuals who worked on this title have gone on to bigger and better things, so at least this stumbling block didn't ruin their careers as game creators.