The latest iteration in THQ’s Destroy All Humans series has landed (get it, Aliens…landed…eh, see what I did there) on Wii with a new control scheme, a new developer, and a brand new vehicle in the form of Big Willy. Unfortunately, even with all this new, it’s the old that causes problems for Crypto’s debut on the Big N’s system. Repetitive jokes, stale gameplay, and dated graphics, cause DAH: BWU to be more of a step back than a revolutionary step forward for the series.
The DAH series has always been about campy, over the top humor, and Big Willy Unleashed has this in spades. The story follows our favorite big eyed alien anti-hero in the swinging 70’s, as he tries to thwart billionaire heiress Patty Wurst’s revolution to overthrow the Big Willy fast food enterprise. You see, Big Willy’s is actually a restaurant chain started by Crypto’s superior Pox to clean up the mess that Crypto has left behind on his campaign to…you know…Destroy All Humans. It seems that Big Willy’s secret recipe involves the ground up corpses of all the humans Crypto has exterminated. The story, while not quite as good as the original, still offers up plenty of laughs and holds the game together well.
There are definitely some very funny moments in the game, mostly the self referential jokes and forth-wall breaking in jokes. Unfortunately, while still quite funny, this iteration does feel less clever than the last two. Some of the jokes (particularly the very predictable “Wii” jokes) are incredibly overdone, which is a shame because the series has always been very good at jokes that are right on the line of “corny, but still funny”. The parodies and spoofs of 70’s culture don’t feel as tight as past entries, but a large part of that is due to the fact that the 50’s setting of the first one was so perfect. There is still quite a bit of humor to find in Big Willy Unleashed, however, and not all of it is found in the dialogue.
From a gameplay standpoint, DAH veterans will feel instantly comfortable. The gameplay follows the same running, gunning, harvesting, human destroying path that the series has become known for. The UFO returns, and it’s great fun to fly around laying waste to the city. The real star of the game, however, is Big Willy himself. This sandwich peddling death machine is a blast to control, and will quickly become your favorite part of the game. Whether you’re heaving things across town or popping citizens into your mouth like peanuts, it’s very easy to kill quite a bit of time just wreaking havoc behind the controls.
The fun of the UFO and Big Willy sections unfortunately also sheds some light on how stale some of the on foot gameplay has become. The series tries to take some new steps in this direction, but after two games in the series, the running, gunning, and probing starts to lose a little bit of its luster. Crypto just doesn’t control as well within the environment as the vehicles do, and actually seems out of place at times in the large but less than detailed open world.
The game controls via the Wiimote and Nunchuck, and works adequately. Barring some issues with precision, the controls behave very similar to the way a standard controller with dual analog sticks would. Movement is controlled via the analog stick, and the camera is rotated via pointing the Wiimote at the edges of the screen. With the exception of the throwing mechanic while piloting Big Willy (which is a blast), and the target shooting mini-game required to use Crypto’s mind control power (which I found to be an unnecessary addition), nothing in the game really takes full advantage of the control scheme.
Graphically, the game is a step backwards from the previous games in the series. The game actually looks slightly better when cruising around in the UFO or Big Willy, but that’s mainly just because the perspective keeps you from focusing on a severe lack of detail at ground level. The game also has some severe performance issues, especially relating to framerate and clipping. I got stuck on boxes, in roofs, and buildings, and all the while the framerate struggled to make its way to 30fps.
The Destroy all Human series has always had great voice acting to push it along, especially the Jack Nicholson-esque voice of Crypto himself. However, it seems as if the devs went with a new cast of Voice Actors because all the voices seem just slightly off. It takes great voicework to pull off a lot of the more corny jokes in a game like this, and sometimes the delivery gets in the way of what could potentially be a funny joke or situation.
I really wanted to love Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed. However, I couldn’t help but be disappointed as a huge fan of the series. The game really does feel like a step backwards from the stellar originals. Wreaking havoc in the UFO and Big Willy mech is a blast, and there are several genuinely laugh out loud funny parts. In the end, however, its flaws keep it from living up to the example set by its predecessors. If you’re a huge fan of the series, it’s worth picking up once it hits the sale bin, although by then you’ll probably be playing Path of the Furon (the next game in the series, set to hit Xbox 360 and PS3 this summer). For everyone else, it’s worth a rent if you’ve got a Wii and you’re craving some destruction.