The Destroy All Humans! games have always taken us back to an innocent time, a time when gas-guzzling cars were celebrated, not reviled; when hoop skirts and fedoras were fashionable, not ridiculed; and when giving people anal probes was novel and hilarious. OK, so that last one still holds true. This latest attempt by the Furons to wipe out humanity takes players to the 1970s, a more modern era than previous DAH outings but one with enough retro personality to provide plenty of laughs and plot perversions. Case in point: the idea to dispose of humans” bodies via a fast-food chain called Big Willy’s. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay of this latest outing doesn’t hold up to the creativity of the plot and excellence of the voice acting, a true disappointment considering the potential of giving anal probes with the Wii Remote.
Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed plays essentially like other games in the DAH series: as Crypto, players use various alien-appropriate weapons to dispatch pesky humans, powers such as telekinesis to toss objects around the world, and vehicles such as the flying saucer to wreak havoc from above. There’s even a Big Boy-like “Big Willy” “mech, which lets players dish out all sorts of flame-induced pain while tearing through town like Godzilla. These gameplay mechanics have been fun in the past, but they’re starting to grow tiresome. So, we had high hopes that the game’s exclusivity to the Wii would introduce some unique new control mechanics to make up for its repetitive play. Our hopes were dashed.
Controlling Crypto is intuitive enough, as it follows the Wii-standard setup of “Wii Remote to look and analog stick to move.” There are also a few mostly coherent button assignments to pick things up, cast them aside and perform other Crypto-specific moves while moving the Wii Remote. However, all the good that these mechanics do are completely undermined by the radically different vehicle controls and inexcusably erratic camera.
To steer the flying saucer or the Big Willy ‘mech, players need to turn the Wii Remote as if twisting a doorknob, with altitude (in the saucer) controlled by tipping the Wii Remote up or down. This sounds like a simple enough use of motion-sensitive controls, but changing the control scheme for no reason other than the sake of change adds a layer of tedium that Big Willy Unleashed really doesn’t need. Couple that with slow IR response times and sometimes-inaccurate recognition of your movements, and you’ll soon understand the TV-saving value of having that wrist strap cinched so tightly.
The camera is also frustrating, particularly when you’re navigating or stuck in tight quarters. All camera movement is dependent upon players moving the on-screen cursor, which requires players to keep the Wii Remote aimed at the sensor bar at all times. The problem is, none of us is a wax figure, so our arms tend to move around — particularly when playing a Wii game. Hello, spinning camera.
Things pick up a bit in the multiplayer modes, which include two co-op missions and one adversarial mode, but there’s not enough of the multiplayer action to overcome the game’s other downfalls. Truly, two co-op missions and one versus mode? The single-player world is small enough that players can beat the game in six to seven hours, so beefier multiplayer options would’ve gone a long way.
Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed isn’t much to look at either, even when compared to other Wii games. Having just come off And Then There Were None, which looked as old as its source material, we expected Big Willy Unleashed to brighten our day. Let’s just say it’s a good thing the audio and potty humor are great, because the graphics weren’t exactly going to be our hero this time around.
But if audio and potty humor are your two best selling points, why make a videogame in the first place? The original Destroy All Humans! was a fantastic and fantastically original game, but this third outing feels like an also-ran more than a worthy addition to the franchise. THQ may be working on the true next-gen sequel, but at this point, we’re sincerely starting to wonder whether DAH would be better off as an animated short or series of Webisodes than a game franchise. Because frankly, the “game” parts of Big Willy Unleashed make real-world anal probes sound somewhat enticing.
– Jonas Allen