Game: Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed
Genre: Open-world Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Wii
The third installment in the Destroy All Humans trilogy might still be a few months away, but in the meantime, alien clone Crypto gets a little Wii action on the side. I never spent very much time with the Destroy All Humans series in the past, other than playing the first game a little bit, but I’m always interested in a good satire of recent American history. Though Big Willy Unleashed does offer a few laughs, the novelty of this game wears off a lot faster than it should.
Big Willy Unleashed takes the series into the 1970s and mocks everything in its path. The giggle-inducing subtitle refers to a chain of fast food restaurants owned by fellow alien Orthopox, and Pox and Crypto are doing everything in their power to support the chain without being exposed as aliens. Why do they care so much? Because the secret ingredient in Big Willy’s burgers is… well, it’s people, obviously. Crypto must go to any lengths necessary to keep Big Willy’s secret while annihilating as many human beings as possible.
The story is somewhat shallow, but can be funny at times. Though not as humorous or original as the first Destroy All Humans was upon release, there are still some great moments, like burning down a dance club to the tune of “Disco Inferno”. Unfortunately, times like that don’t come along as often as you would like. Most of the time, you’ll be following Pox’s orders for reasons that may or may not be entirely clear, and some of the errands he sends you on are mighty tedious.
Big Willy Unleashed has something almost never seen on the Wii: an open-world environment to explore. There are actually four major environments this game takes place in, ranging from small U.S. towns to Vietmahl, the Destroy All Humans version of Vietnam. This gives the game sort of a GTA-lite feel, only with spaceships instead of cars. Unlike Grand Theft Auto, however, there’s far less to do in the world of Crypto; the game can be completed in about six hours, and aside from a few extra missions, there’s not much to do around town other than randomly anal-probing innocent bystanders.
I had some major problems with the controls for Big Willy Unleashed, which are so bad I contemplated quitting the game altogether. First of all, the camera is controlled by the Wii Remote—but so is almost everything else, which means that anytime you try to do anything, chances are the camera is going to move. This gets annoying really fast; try aiming at something while the camera is shaking back and forth. How am I supposed to anally probe the cops if my aim won’t stay steady?
Vehicle control can also be kind of frustrating. Tilting the remote back and forth moves the camera while you’re piloting a spaceship, while moving it up and down determines the ship’s altitude. However, this doesn’t always work as smoothly as it should, leading to failed missions and general exasperation. After a while, you get used to the control scheme, but it’s not at all intuitive. Better use of the Wii’s remote and nunchuk would probably lead to more enjoyment of this game.
Graphically, this game is a disappointment. Big Willy Unleashed is yet another Wii game that looks like it could have come out five years ago. How hard is it to utilize the full visual capabilities of the system? I know it’s not as powerful as the 360 or PS3, but it’s certainly capable of better graphics than Big Willy Unleashed provides.
For fans of the series, open-world environments, or satire of American culture, Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed is at least worth a rental. It’s definitely got some control issues, and some of the tasks get repetitive and boring, but there is fun to be had in this game. A tighter control scheme, better graphics, and a little more substance to the storyline would have done wonders for this game. As it stands now, it’s not worth the $49.99 retail price.