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True Lies (SNES) artwork

True Lies (SNES) review

"Considering all the options available these days, thereís no excuse for True Lies to continue existing. Someone should gather the cartridges, bundle them with a two-ton weight and toss them into a massive swimming pool. Then maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can fire a rocket launcher at them, just for good measure. The world would be a better place."

True Lies was a great movie. In one scene, Arnold Schwarzenegger climbs onto a horse and pursues a motorcycle-riding terrorist through a hotel lobby, up some elevators and across a rooftop. The camera pans to show a city skyline and a luminescent pool nearby. Action ensues. Itís one of Hollywoodís finest moments. Perhaps today, a game developer could do justice to that scene and to the others like it. Unfortunately, True Lies the game was made only a year after the movie was, in 1995. The Super Nintendo just wasnít up to the task and a complete turd was the result.

The first problem is the gameís perspective. Itís mostly top-down, but set at an angle so that you can wander behind some objects and get lost. At other points, invisible barriers will play havoc with your ability to move through the gameís massive environments. This is bad because enemies are running about the area at almost all times, pelting you with bullets.

Sometimes, they donít even show their faces. Theyíll happily shoot you from off-screen, before you know they exist. It doesnít happen often, but the stages are massive and itís enough to wear you down at an alarming rate. Sure, you can pick up first-aid kits, but cheap shots do nothing to help your case. Hit detection also sucks. Unless youíre lined up properly with an opponent, your shots do no damage. Your enemies tend to fare better. You can stand your ground and turn a bit, but at that point youíve already taken enough hits that youíre possibly in danger of losing a life.

This unfortunate fact is made worse by another: youíre going to have to find a lot of keys and cards and such throughout the game. Trouble begins in stage one, where youíll gun your way to a door just in time to find that you lack the clearance necessary to proceed. Maybe you even passed a security card, but you didnít notice it because some object was in the way. Until you memorize where everything is within a given level, youíll find yourself doing a lot of backtracking. Thankfully, enemies donít re-spawn all the time, but what if youíve avoided killing every last one? Doubling back can be fatal.

It can also be tedious. Most of the stages in True Lies are maze-like, leaving you to wander around hedges or walls or whatever and search desperately for that archway that will allow you to proceed. Because of the angle at which youíll be viewing the action, youíll long to switch camera angles so you can see if somehow youíre missing a door. Itís hard to imagine how the developer managed that with a two-dimensional game, but they did. Youíll sometimes find yourself lost and roaming for minutes at a time, gnashing your teeth and hoping you survive to the end of the stage.

Thanks to those off-screen shots I mentioned, you quite possibly wonít. Even the first stage is difficult, and the ones that follow it only get worse. There are some brutal boss encounters, too, where your opponents are throwing grenades and peppering their surroundings with so many bullets that itís almost impossible to avoid taking damage for more than two or three seconds. Many of these villains donít need to reload, even though you do. Each stage you complete is a victory paid for with sweat and tears; each password you receive is a medal of honor.

The thing is, progress you make can at times feel unfair. Most enemies are dumber than rocks. They can only overwhelm you when they have superior numbers. Early on, before they swarm you, itís possible to draw them down narrow hallways one at a time, or to shoot them across the top of desks or fountains as they stare at you in befuddlement without returning fire. Is this someoneís idea of fun?

Itís certainly not mine. The game really is a chore. You donít Ďplayí it. You just mash the controllerís buttons and you survive. Considering all the options available these days, thereís no excuse for True Lies to continue existing. Someone should gather the cartridges, bundle them with a two-ton weight and toss them into a massive swimming pool. Then maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger can fire a rocket launcher at them, just for good measure. The world would be a better place.

Rating: 1/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (June 02, 2005)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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