Surprise, surprise. Yet another video game that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Small Soldiers is a third-person shooter that not only isn't like the movie but goes against the movie's entire ideology. If you remember, the Gorgonites were supposed to be a peaceful race that was more interested in learning about Earth than in senseless violence. Thus, the toy would take an interactive role in the child's learning process (What?! Learning?! How ridiculous!).
In the game, however, Archer (the lead Gorgonite) is just as bloodthirsty as his rival, Major Chip Hazard, blowing away Commandos at will. Well, so much for the soft-spoken, prone-to-hiding Gorgonites. Basically, the Commandos are launching a full-scale assault on the Gorgon worlds and the "noble" Archer must repel them, thus giving him a license to kill, so to speak.
This game could've shown some promise if more time was taken to develop it, but as it is, this lame, rushed-out title gets to be just plain boring. You end up doing the same old things over and over again.
First off, in a 1P game, you can only play as Archer. This game's just begging for multiple story lines, but unfortunately, you aren't able to select whether you want to play on the side of the Commandos or the Gorgonites. In fact, more character choices would have added much needed depth. How about being able to not only choose which side you play on, but also selecting different personnel for different missions? Sadly, this game's got no room for creativity of that kind.
The levels all look like enormous caverns. The textures are good, but the level design is a little weak. You either try to find the end of the level or you go around collecting items that will open a portal to another level. The game gets repetitive and boring after about three or four levels. I expected a setting more like the movie, a whole neighborhood where you went from house to house kicking ass in scaled environments, climbing over desks, hedges and the like. Unfortunately, there isn't time for such creative impulses when a game is as rushed-out as Small Soldiers.
Throughout some levels, Archer is able to rescue some of his Gorgonite comrades for some tag-team Commando ass-whuppin'. This is yet another aspect of the game that could've been developed more fully. As it is, your Gorgonite friend won't follow you throughout the whole level. At best, he'll be around for a fight or two. You won't benefit from his presence as soon as you jump to other parts of the level. On other stages, you can "summon" one of your comrades a limited number of times, but this is a rarity.
Control problems really kill (no pun intended) Small Soldiers. It's very difficult to do a standing turn when using the analog stick. You invariably move forward or backward a little bit making for some intense aggravation. Using the D-pad is slightly better, but getting caught on corners happens no matter what control method you're using.
Graphically, the game is mediocre but forgettable. The levels and effects look nice, but Archer looks more like he's floating/dancing across the landscape instead of walking/running. He's got some good Dance Fever moves, though. FMV in between levels would've made the story more interesting and easier to get into.
Sound is perhaps the best part of the game, especially with Tommy Lee Jones' voice-overs. Music comes courtesy of a beautiful movie-quality soundtrack, lending atmosphere to an otherwise bland game.
Two-player frag mode is a nice addition, but doesn't offer any interesting gameplay. One plays as Archer and the other is Major Hazard. The gameplay isn't balanced well-enough and it's very easy to dominate your opponent. Couple this with the bad controls and it's lights-out for Small Soldiers.
Small Soldiers might be appealing to a younger audience, especially those that enjoyed the movie. However, even they might find themselves a little lost during some puzzles. The bottom line is that this game isn't all that fun to play and has little to offer a Revolutionary gamer.