Wiping out the human race never tasted so good.
Ah, the seventies - the era of big shoes, bigger hair, and Foxy Brown. I thought that now that bellbottoms are going out of style (again), maybe this decade would be done for good, but instead I found myself right back in the Carter administration after I slipped in latest game in the Destroy All Humans series, Big Willy Unleashed.
In this episode, you are once again with your old friends (and when I say ‘friends’, I mean evil alien overlords bent on our race’s destruction), Crypto and Pox, who have yet another fiendish plan to rid this planet of its pesky inhabitants. The idea this time is to grind up all the victims of the alien duo into delicious meats and sell them back to the oblivious, sideburn-sporting consumers through their new fast food franchise, Big Willy. Their boyish mascot bears so much resemblance to a certain hamburger-wielding franchise icon that I sincerely hope they have good copyright lawyers on their home planet.
As the title suggests, the point of the Destroy All Humans is to kill as many people as possible, and damn, if they don’t give you a hundred and one ways to do just that. From zapping them with the simple yet effective death ray to popping out their cortexes with the strangely satisfying anal probe, every chance of murder has just the right tool for the job. You can use your psychokinetic powers to toss earthlings around like the pitiful playthings they are, or you can clamber into your spaceship and fry the little buggers. When that gets old, you can don your mecha-tastic Big Willy armor and chuck taxis around like hot dog buns, or grind your fleeing victims into the asphalt with your giant metallic Buster Browns.
It’s hard to argue with a premise as simple and as that, but while you could spend hours just rampaging through a level, knocking down buildings and collecting human brains, there actually is a storyline. Wealthy heiress turned revolutionary Patty Wurst (who isn’t named after a Garbage Pail Kid, of course, but after real-life debutante-guerilla Patty Hearst) is out to convince everyone that Big Willy’s own patties aren’t exactly all-beef, if you know what I’m saying.
Each mission pits you against Patty and her heavily armed co-conspirators as you try to silence them. As a plot, it’s got about as much meat as half a McNugget (if they’re actually made of meat). The individual missions marginally hang together as a cohesive storyline, and a scenario based on stealth and secrecy doesn’t make much sense when all you really want to do is get in your spaceship and blow stuff up. But honestly, the story doesn’t matter much.
Destroy All Humans is known for its self-referential, ridiculous humor, and the preposterous setup. Sarcastic aliens and the seventies seem tailor-made for that brand of comedy, but the jokes all fall flat. The cut-scenes, while thankfully skippable, tend to be long, static, and not really all that funny. The voice acting - particularly between the traditionally evil-sounding Pox and the vaguely Nicholson-esque Crypto - sounds good, even if what they say isn’t all that interesting. There’s some fun in dissing disco, but I expected more. Even the random little tidbits of seventies-flavored dialogue you ‘overhear’ when running around town don’t add up to much. I mean, who’s the target audience for the joke? “Hey! I just remembered! The Beatles are still broken up.”
While there are some fun effects and animations with the weaponry (I admit I still laugh every time an anal probe victim runs away from me clutching their rears), the graphics are surprisingly blocky and crude, even for a Wii game.
Stranger yet are some of the decisions in the controls. To allow for strafing, Destroy All Humans maps movement to the nunchuck’s thumbstick, which makes sense, but you control the camera by pointing your Wii-mote at the edges of the screen, which doesn’t. Even though you get used to it eventually, there are always a few frustrating and nausea-inducing moments when your camera is wildly careening around while you try to point at the right place. Then, the moment that you step inside your Big Willy, it all changes. The camera angle is now controlled by rotating the Wii-mote clockwise and counter-clockwise. It just makes less sense than syncopated stitches.
If you’re willing to share your destructive rampage with a friend, the multiplayer mode allows you to battle in an open environment, or team up to defend your franchises from Patty’s minions. There’s unfortunately no co-op story mode option, which could have added a layer of fun to the carnage.
While Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed doesn’t quite reach the bar set by its predecessors, it let’s you have enough fun taking out your aggression on those silly Homo Sapiens that it’s worth playing. Still, it will get old after a while. I mean, how many anal probes can you insert before it gets boring? Wait, don’t answer that. But if you’re in the kind of mood that makes you want to wipe out the human race, give Big Willy Unleashed a try.