When the original Destroy All Humans! first hovered on the horizon, it was praised by some for an acerbic sense of humor and the way it satirically set 1950s-era sci-fi fare on its ear. Instead of focusing on an Earth-saving hero, the game’s creators strapped gamers into the gravitational boots of a little gray-green man from outer space called Crypto. The diminutive saucer-jockey—who sounded like a smarmy Jack Nicholson—went about gathering human DNA and following the mankind-killing dictates of a holographic alien leader named Pox.
This third entry in the franchise, Destroy All Humans!: Big Willy Unleashed, jumps ahead 20 years to the bell-bottom-wearing ’70s and finds the two aliens still blasting and quipping their way toward world dominance. Well … to be honest, it’s Pox who’s still determined to rule the global roost. All Crypto really wants to do is kick back and watch TV sitcoms about “human mating.” But Pox hustles him out to perpetrate his latest scheme and protect a chain of fast-food businesses he’s created called Big Willy’s. The cosmic boss has decided that capitalism is the best way to conquer Earth. As well as a great way to recycle all the dead bodies that have been stacking up from the past two games. (Would you like fries and a shake with that?)
Set Phaser to Zombie
As Crypto, players must fulfill missions that include blasting police, burning down competing burger joints and diffusing protests by a group of activists who have stumbled on the cannibalistic truth. To accomplish these quests, you use the three-foot tall warrior’s special mind-control abilities to impersonate and mingle with the earthmen. And when an alien’s gotta kill who he’s gotta kill, you wield an arsenal of fancy weapons¬—including a lightning-charged Zap-O-Matic, a zombie-making gun, a shrink ray and an anal probe that shoots a projectile up a person’s backside and causes the victim’s head to explode.
To further the human-splattering offensive, you can also climb into Crypto’s spacecraft and levitate cars and trucks to crowd-squishing effect or laser-fry an unruly group of protestors en masse. Later in the game you gain control of a 25-foot-tall mechanized Big Willy statue that can pick up terrified people and throw them to their demise or pop their heads in its mouth for a crunchy, energy-delivering snack.
Sound violent? Well, it is—in a slapstick kind of way. The game keeps its ESRB-assigned T rating by shooting laser beams, bouncing brains, charring people and spattering green gook, but refraining from splashing realistic blood and guts across the screen.
Like past Destroy All Humans! titles, getting from here to there is fairly easy with an open world type of gameplay. The Wii’s motion-sensing remote gives things a bit of a different twist, however. Moving Crypto and his vehicle of choice around involves a lot of doorknob-like twisting and turning of the controller, instead of analog button flicking, which doesn’t always make the going easier. And the aim-and-pull trigger action gives the game a gun-like quality that’s unsettling, even in a broad adventure title.
Don’t Leave Mars Without Wit
For all the trigger-pulling remote action and repetitive blasts, bonks and brain blow-outs, though, it’s the tiresome flood of sexual innuendo that really pins the yuck meter. Crypto and Pox must have left their joke books in their other spacecraft because all we get is a constant bombardment of genitalia references and comments about female anatomy. (The game’s subtitle gives you an idea of the sophomoric double entendres that fill the dialogue.)
It all detracts from the cartoonish little green man fun that was originally intended for the title. In fact, when you add in some occasional mild profanity (“a–” and “d–n”) and a number of Crypto’s favorite probe targets—buxom women in bikinis—this satire, shooting for clever humor, misses the teen-friendly mark by at least a universe or two.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.