In the world of video games, there are three great truths: Eating food you find on the ground makes you healthier, criminal masterminds leave plenty of loaded weapons lying around, and games based on movies suck. Small Soldiers is no exception.
Loosely based on last summer's equally disappointing movie, Electronic Arts' Small Soldiers casts you in the role of Archer, a peace-loving creature who must defend his homeworld of Gorgon from Chip Hazard and his band of GI Joes from hell, better known as the Commandos. As you journey through the game's 15+ levels, you'll find ten deadly weapons, controllable war machines, and a few friendly faces from the film, who can be called upon for assistance. There's also a two-player mode that lets you and a friend slug it out mano a mano.
Just as side-scrolling platform games were during the 8- and 16-bit eras, the 3D action-adventure has become the genre of choice for quickie movie adaptations in the age of 32 bits. More often than not, this one-size-fits-all approach leads to disaster (Acclaim's Batman and Robin). Such is the case with Small Soldiers. Since the movie is about a legion of toys that ransack a quiet suburb, why not create a comical, kid-friendly real-time strategy game? Instead, developer DreamWorks Interactive delivers a lackluster 3D action/shooter with sloppy control, mindless puzzles (green key opens green door, red key opens red door...), and unimaginative level design. Toss in subpar artificial intelligence and an extremely shallow depth of view, and not even an orchestral soundtrack and the voice talents of Tommy Lee Jones are enough to keep this soldier from going AWOL.