"It might not have occurred to you, but 'Big Willy' can be used to refer to, well... a penis. This gag is used repeatedly throughout the game, as Pox complains that the competition wants to milk his Big Willy dry, as he talks about covering the world with his Big Willy and so forth. Just when you think that surely the writers ran out of silly puns involving alien genitalia, something else pops up and suddenly Pox is talking about his 500 erections (of restaurants, naturally)."
Humans must be stopped. That's the premise behind Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed the third in a series that loves poking fun at mankind by examining our habits and culture through the eyes of two wise-cracking aliens named Crypto and Pox. It's a neat idea that has allowed for quite a few memorable gaming moments already (who can forget the politician's speech in the first title, for example?), but here the general feel is that someone's just going through the motions.
As the game opens, Crypto is soaking up some early 70s television. That's when his holographic commander, Pox, swoops in to say that something is going terribly wrong. It seems that his restaurant franchise, Big Willy's, is facing some serious criticism. Some spoiled rich girl has run away from home and is now spreading malicious rumors that the fast food Pox serves in his restaurants is actually ground up human flesh. The worst part of it all? She's right!
Destroy All Humans! newcomers may be startled to find that Crypto isn't friendly to any humans except those with especially nice jiggly parts. He thinks nothing of a hostile anal probe that leaves his victims running around in excruciating pain and holding their rumps before finally dying as their heads burst from their shoulders with a loud 'Pop' sound. Probes are a hobby of his. He doesn't mind snatching a body or two, either, or hypnotizing people to do his bidding. If you've played the first two games in the series, you'll expect all of that. What you might not anticipate is the sheer volume of sexual innuendo in this newest volume.
It might not have occurred to you, but 'Big Willy' can be used to refer to, well... a penis. This gag is used repeatedly throughout the game, as Pox complains that the competition wants to milk his Big Willy dry, as he talks about covering the world with his Big Willy and so forth. Just when you think that surely the writers ran out of silly puns involving alien genitalia, something else pops up and suddenly Pox is talking about his 500 erections (of restaurants, naturally). There's always a perfectly innocuous meaning behind what he says, but the dialog is stretched whenever possible to accommodate perverted humor. That's not a complaint, necessarily, but it's something you'll want to know ahead of time.
Of course, Big Willy Unleashed is about more than penis jokes. The title refers to the restaurant mascot, whom you can eventually control. He's a walking, smashing robot (think Godzilla but less green and with fewer scales) that fires searing laser beams from his eyes and belches toxic fumes. Buildings crumble beneath his feet. Dumpsters are lifted and wielded as clubs. It's all very exciting and nicely complements Crypto's on-foot attacks and the power of his flying saucer. Unfortunately, it's not utilized often enough. Even though you can hop aboard and start smashing your way through obstacles nearly any time you like, there's not actually much cause to do so.
Part of that comes down to the game's length. There are only 23 stages that contribute to the main story. Several of them will last you only a few minutes. You can also unearth over 140 power cells, many hidden throughout the stages in out-of-the-way locations, but scavenger hunts in games wore out their welcome years ago. Finally, there are 17 other missions called 'odd jobs.' These help the length considerably, if you take the time to complete them.
The side missions are worth noting because they are the place where the developers seem to have given themselves the most leeway to get creative. There are even nods to game critics. In one particularly humorous side mission, Pox says "I hope they crucify you on Metacritic" and engages Crypto in a conversation about how this game has twice as many weapons as the last one. It's pretty funny stuff and it would have been nice to see similar risks taken in the main game. As a bonus, completing the odd jobs allows you to research cooler weapons.
Honestly, there are more weapons than you even need. Crypto retains his familiar attacks from previous games, plus now he can also turn people into zombies. They'll wander around, attacking other people and probably getting shot in the process. It's pretty cool, and that's before you even consider the Big Willy robot. Add it all together and you have a nice list of activities to fill a few hours, but then you're back to that most basic of complaints: the game is just too short.
It's also a bit limp on the visual side of things. When Destroy All Humans! released a few years back, it stood proud as one of the more attractive games in its genre. That's not true here, though; environments are bland and the draw distance is poor. Enemies will in fact fade out of sight even when nearby, and sometimes you'll pass right through objects if the circumstances are right. Wii is capable of games that trounce PlayStation 2 stuff, but nothing in Big Willy Unleashed looks like it would tax even the PSP.
At least controls fare well... sometimes. When you're wandering through streets with someone held overhead by psychic energy and you get to fling them somewhere, that's lovely. When you're controlling Big Willy and you get to throw a huge garbage dumpster at a rampaging robot, that's beautiful. When you're wrestling a camera that prevents you from noticing a fatal pool of water that Crypto is about to enter, that is not cool. When it prevents you from seeing enemies that are approaching and can cause you to fail a mission objective, that's also bad. The problem is that you have to move the cursor to the edge of the screen, then keep it there to swing left or right. Sometimes, you'll have it positioned there and nothing happens, so you have to swing back toward the middle of the screen and then try again to get anything to register. That lag can sometimes prove fatal.
Despite its flaws, Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed at least proves interesting overall. Don't pick it up expecting the best the franchise has to offer, but it should at least amuse long-time fans or just gamers looking for something a little different for Wii. After all, where else can you (legally) use the Wii Remote to conduct an anal probe?
Staff review by Jason Venter (March 12, 2008)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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