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Stargate SG1: Unleashed Episode 1

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Sorry episode

Product: Stargate SG-1 Unleashed | Developer: Arkalis Interactive | Format: iPad | Genre: Adventure, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Stargate SG-1 Unleashed iPad, thumbnail 1
Of all the unpromising fantasy films to make it into a long-running cult TV show, Stargate has to be right up there with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It somehow managed to drag on for ten long series (and several spin-offs) despite its mediocre origins.

Must be something to do with that MacGyver chap.

Like a regenerating Egyptian alien-god thingy, the Stargate franchise has now reformed into an episodic iOS game, Stargate SG1: Unleashed. If this one succeeds, though, we'll be even more perplexed.

Where's Kurt Russell when you need him

It's tough to say exactly what Stargate SG1: Unleashed Episode 1 is, but we'll try.

It's a mish-mash of elements taken from several disparate game types, though none of these elements is handled with much aplomb.

Initially you'll think it's a third-person adventure as you're taught how to guide Jack O'Neil through some generic corridors. No sooner have you not-mastered the clunky virtual controls and woeful camera system than you'll be pitched into a gun fight.

Here the game turns into an arcade lightgun game without the lightgun, as you pop out of your fixed cover position and tap where you want to shoot - preferably in the direction of the Egyptian-alien dudes. You're rewarded for headshots, but these become less effective throughout the first chapter (there are two more to come) as the enemies grow tougher.

Stargate SG1: Unleashed also, bizarrely, slips into an awkward virtual joypad-guided shooter for the odd brief one-off target challenge.

Dialling it in

Other gameplay elements include woeful QTE sections - where you must tap and swipe two command prompts just to scale a ladder, and initiate timed taps to shimmy across a tiny gap painfully slowly.

Then there are the stilted dialogue sections, which give you the basic illusion of choice through limited conversation trees. These seem designed mainly to justify the cost of hiring of the original Stargate SG1 cast to phone-in their performances.

These elements don't fit particularly well together, but at least the constant switching distracts you from the wafer-thin nature of each element.

In a fatal mistake, the game removes the combat element for one protracted section and replaces it with even more dull stealth components and insultingly basic fetch quests.

That's not to say that the combat is any good. It's really not. The fact that you can't see the slow-moving incoming projectiles while behind cover means that you frequently pop out to a face full of laser bolts, requiring a hasty retreat to regain your health.

Talk like an Egyptian

The accompanying story is also pretty dire. We suspect that even die-hard fans of the show will struggle to muster much enthusiasm for this tale of Ra's daughter (whom you only see once, in the intro movie) on the warpath.

Certain key plot points are left up in the air to be clarified (or spoiled, depending on how you look at it) by expository text on the between-section loading screens. Which stick around for far too long, it should be noted.

The game also suffers from frequent audio skips and glitches, and some more serious - though occasional - bugs. On one occasion I was unable to clear an action section as an enemy was stood just off-screen shooting me.

On another occasion, a patrolling guard repeatedly walked right across my path on a following mission, which led to a string of instant mission fails.

What were they sphinxing?

Stargate SG1: Unleashed may be set in a much-loved universe, but that does nothing to change the fact that it's a weak amalgam of poorly constructed gameplay elements.

It's considerably less than the sum of its parts, in other words, and when those individual parts are so underwhelming in isolation it's tough to see anyone but the die-hard fans sticking around for episodes two and three.

Put it this way: if this were a pilot episode for another Stargate spinoff show, we wouldn't expect the series to be picked up.
Stargate SG1: Unleashed Episode 1
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 19 March 2013
Like a dodgy pilot episode, Stargate SG1: Unleashed is badly written, poorly paced, and really quite dull
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