Stargate, much to all its enduring fans’ surprise, has somehow found its way to the iPad as an episodic adventure game. The long-running series, having spawned a massive fanbase and several spinoffs, peaked with Stargate SG-1, and now you an enjoy the same brand of sci-fi at home on your favorite gaming tablet. Stargate SG-1: Unleashed Episode 1 is a mixture of several different games, pieced together with cutscenes and characters voiced by their television counterparts. Unfortunately, it’s a clunky amalgamation of several genres that isn’t quite sure what it wants to accomplish.
The first of multiple episodes has you play as Jack O’Neill as you learn the ropes– first off, you’re introduced to what seems like a third-person action adventure game, creeping down several corridors and soon enough facing several enemies to take out. Right away, the genre has already shifted as you’re quickly tasked with dispatching the enemies as this episode exhibits symptoms of a cover shooter.
From behind cover Jack can partake in some spotty stop-and-pop shooting, which doesn’t exactly impress. The Egyptian-esque alien creatures go down quickly with a headshot, but the touch “light gun” arcade mechanics are spotty, and it’s jarring since this occurs minutes after what seemed like a point-and-click adventure game.
After learning navigational basics and becoming acquainted with the strange shooter segments, things start to fall more into place with myriad quick-time events, stunted conversational threads with phoned-in dialogue from the Stargate actors. Fortunately, the plot threads themselves can be appreciated by veteran Stargate fans, but those unfamiliar with characters and setpieces from the franchise will feel lost, if not completely confused. There’s a History page available from the main menu that can get you up to speed, but exhaustive as it is, it’s not the same as having sat through the Stargate canon. Dialogue trees are an entertaining specimen, but they themselves do little to keep the campaign afloat considering there are multiple characters to keep track of, and not all of them are particularly interesting to play as.
Where the game truly shines is its usage of detailed graphics and production value. It’s clear a lot of love went into creating this game for fans of the series, so perhaps that’s where its bit of schizophrenic nature comes into play. The fact that key characters’ actors stood in for the dialogue (as phony-sounding as it can be, much like Lance Henriksen in Aliens: Colonial Marines) speaks volumes for the fanbase, but this first episode isn’t riveting enough to cement a purchase at $4.99 for each sequential episode.
Unleashed is going to need to beef up considerably if it wants to attract a player base beyond rabid fans, or adventure fans for that matter. Right now it’s a cluttered mess that’s in desperate need of some clarity.