The new game tries to hit on the snarky wit of the first two, but somewhere along the line the writing went sour. Crypto and Pox still toss one-liners back and forth, but 90% of the humor is lame jokes about male anatomy. I expected some of this going in, considering the game’s title, but the gag is so overused that it gets painful. You can’t go thirty seconds without Pox making a comment about his “Big Willy.” The humor stays juvenile and simple-minded the whole way through, and is so frequent that I was cringing every couple of minutes.
What’s more, the voice actors from the previous games have been replaced with sound-alikes. You can tell they’re doing their best to imitate the performances of Grant Albrecht and Richard Steven Horvitz, but they come off as forced. Without Albrecht’s Jack Nicholson impression and Horvitz’s Invader Zim voice, the characters really lose something.
Without the humor that the two principle characters brought to the series, Big Willy Unleashed falls flat. The new weapons and features don’t do much to revitalize the repetitive gameplay, even with the somewhat novel Wii remote integration. The game loses more points with its production values. The graphics are inexplicably smeary, even when compared to the first two on last generation hardware. Crypto and his vehicles look pretty good, but everything else, from buildings to people, is excessively blocky and smeary. The world has a haziness to it, as if everything is displayed at a resolution more befitting an N64 game. In terms of audio, Big Willy ditches the camp Theremin music that added to the humor of the earlier games, and replaces it with disco. I know it’s set in the 70s and all, but the old music was a big part of the low-budget alien movie vibe and I was sad to find it missing.
With the music, humor and voice acting gone, Big Willy Unleashed misses the series’ most valuable elements, and what remains is gameplay that lost its novelty long ago. The new vehicle and weapons can’t save the game from low production values or worn out mechanics, and even the shallow multiplayer won’t have many people coming back for more. I suspect this game was rushed through development as a quick cash-in on the Wii’s undeserved popularity, and I feel sorry that the people who worked on it didn’t get more time to make it as enjoyable as the first two.
That said, I liked the new ideas it brought to the series, and I hope they are used in future installments. Some of the weapons have potential to be really funny, if only the humor is well written next time. As it stands, Big Willy Unleashed is more of a spin-off than a true sequel, so maybe we’ll see better gameplay and snappier writing in Path of the Furon, scheduled to hit the Xbox 360 and PS3 later this year.
The gameplay in Destroy All Humans is getting stale, and Big Willy Unleashed beats the dead horse with a death ray. The series’ once sarcastic humor has been reduced to sophomoric fare that only 12 year old boys will laugh at, which makes the tired mechanics and low production values even more glaring. While it has some good ideas, this game doesn’t cut it as a sequel and merits a rental at most.
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