Big Willy Unleashed lacks the humor of earlier installments, leaving its shallow and rehashed gameplay to fend for itself.
- Causing random havoc can be fun for a little while
- The addition of a Big Willy mech increases vehicle variety
- Some clever weaponry.
- Not nearly as funny as previous games in the series
- Rehashed combat that wasn't so great to begin with
- Lacks the engaging presentation of first two games.
The gameplay found in the original Destroy All Humans! may have been so-so at best, but it was able to overcome this shortcoming with a fiendish sense of humor that used 1950s sci-fi to satirize Cold War paranoia. The second installment did its best to mimic what made the first so funny, but couldn't produce quite as many laughs thanks to a lack of focus in its storyline. This downward trend in quality continues with Destroy All Humans! Big Willy unleashed, which relies on a quickly tiresome flood of sexual innuendo to mask the fact that the human-destroying action has gone stale.
Big Willy Unleashed takes its name from the chain of fast-food restaurants Pox has opened in his newfound quest to take over the Earth through good old-fashioned capitalism. The twist here is that Pox uses the scores of dead humans that have been piling up throughout the first two games (a result of his partner in crime Crypto harvesting human brains for DNA) as a cheap alternative to beef in his hamburgers. Heiress-turned-activist Patty Wurst (rhymes with "Hearst"--get it?) is out to expose Pox's Soylent Green-inspired business practices, so it's up to you as Crypto to stop her and her cronies. From there, the plot spirals out of control with a smattering of halfhearted '70s pop-culture parodies that rarely illicit more than a faint chuckle.
Although the plot may be all over the place, one consistent theme throughout the game is the constant repetition of Big Willy-related double entendres. Whenever Pox sends Crypto on a mission to protect his restaurants from anticannibalism activists, he always mentions how his Big Willy is not to be touched, or how they'll feel the wrath of his Big Willy, and so on. It's a little funny at first, but the joke is repeated to the point where it becomes a groan-inducing routine.
The series' trademark humor may have taken a nosedive, but the action remains much the same. You're given a pretty nice assortment of Furon weaponry to aid your task of obliterating select groups of human life. These options include old standbys such as the Zap-O-Matic and the Anal Probe, but new options are thrown into the mix, such as the Zombie Gun and another that shoots balls of lightning like grenades. Like much of the humor in the game, these weapons offer some amusement at first--turning people into zombies to distract police is a nice ability, and we never tire of seeing the phrase "Anal Probe Upgraded!" flash across the screen--but the simplicity of running, shooting, running, shooting becomes rather monotonous after a short time.
Thankfully, Crypto doesn't remain a pedestrian for the entire game; you now have a pair of vehicles to pilot. You can choose from the flying saucer featured in previous games and the newly introduced Big Willy mech suit. The vehicle sequences provide welcome variety to the combat, though they tend to make you almost invincible. In the saucer, you'll mostly fly around while zapping buildings out of existence, taking care not to draw too much interest from escalating levels of local authorities. But if you do find yourself in a hailstorm of missiles, it's pretty simple to restore your health by using your abduction beam to drain the energy from almost anything lying on the ground. Though simple, the saucer sequences are pretty fun--at least until you run into the occasional fetch quest. In an odd bit of self-referential humor, you'll hear Crypto exclaim how much he hates fetch quests as the mission begins. It's a funny way of breaking the fourth wall, but it doesn't really mask the fact that, yes, it's a fetch quest and, yes, it's quite boring.
The Big Willy mech sequences follow the same trend of interesting but overly simple gameplay. You're able to hop into any of the 25-foot-tall Big Willy statues that tower over each of Pox's franchises to engage in mech-suit mayhem. With Big Willy, you can pick up giant objects such as cars and use them as weaponry to smash helpless citizens. These same citizens also restore your health when you snatch them up and toss them into your mouth like they're pieces of popcorn. For sheer brutality alone, it's quite a bit more amusing to pilot the Big Willy, but the two vehicles don't really feel all that much different. They control the exact same way: You use the Nunchuk to move around, and twist the remote side to side to turn the camera. Combined with the fact that the saucer is fixed pretty low to the ground, these vehicle sections really blend into each other.
Vehicular navigation doesn't take many risks with the Wii Remote's motion-sensing abilities, and that's a fairly common theme in the game. The remote is used most often to control the camera, which thankfully includes three levels of responsiveness. It does a fairly nice job of mimicking the standard dual-joystick control scheme and never becomes much of an issue in the game. But beyond that, the Wii Remote's abilities are kept in check pretty often. When you want to engage Crypto's PK abilities (which include hypnotizing and bodysnatching), you'll need to defeat a quick minigame that involves shooting brain-shaped targets on the screen. You can also use the remote to swing objects you've picked up in the mech suit with an overhand motion, but that's really about it. Overall, this is a game that could be played easily with a traditional controller.
Visually, Big Willy Unleashed doesn't impress. It really shows its roots as a series that began on last-generation systems in 2005. Not much seems to have been done to improve the graphics, and furthermore, there's an ill-conceived bloom-lighting effect that gives certain textures a sort of blurry, tie-dyed look. On top of this, the sound feels very off. Whereas the first game in the series featured great voice acting and lots of creepy, theremin-filled sci-fi music, this one lacks the same punch. The new voice actors filling in the roles of Crypto and Pox sound like poor impressions of the originals, and the disco-filled soundtrack fails to produce the same charming atmosphere found previously.
Finally, there's the ability to enlist the help of a friend to take part in multiplayer. Your options are pretty limited, though; you can go head-to-head against another player in an effort to hold as many beacons as you can within a set time limit, or you can work side-by-side to defend a Big Willy restaurant from waves of troops. This tacked-on multiplayer doesn't add anything to the experience and only continues the general theme of disappointment established by the campaign. It would be tough to recommend such an underwhelming sequel right out of the gate, but if you can find it down the road on sale, it might be worth it for the few chuckles it offers.