Updated Wed, Feb 17, 2010 by Martuk
The arrival of a new Stargate game to finally appease fans of the franchise should be reason to celebrate. Is Stargate Resistance deserving of a fine bottle of wine, or should we just break out the cheap whiskey? Let’s dive in and find out.
Stargate Resistance is a fast-paced third-person shooter from FireSky, LLC, a division of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, Inc. The game officially launched on February 10, 2010, on the PC platform and is available only via digital download services such as Steam, the FireSky store, and Direct2Drive.
The game is based on the popular Stargate IP and throws players into a heated galactic battle between the resurgent forces of the System Lords, an alliance of evil aliens, and the SGC (Stargate Command), a military entity of the United States based out of the Cheyenne Mountain military facility. The Stargate is a device that allows travel to other worlds via a wormhole. This sets the stage for the galactic battle in which players will engage.
Rating: T for Teen – Ages 13 and older.
As the rating implies, there is animated violence. This game is just another in a long line of quick PvP, over the shoulder, third-person shooters. Stargate Resistance also requires an Internet connection to play.
Stargate Resistance is all about PvP and this is the only mode of play you will find. There is no story or offline mode; you simply log on, find a game, pick a side, and get to killing. As such, it’s easy to learn and a quick game to jump right into. The classes have only a few weapons or items each and you can pick up on what does what pretty quickly. The controls are very simple, which makes the learning curve more of a gentle slope.
There are six classes to choose from, three for each faction. The SGC’s frontline class is the Soldier. Armed with a P90, a Grenade Launcher, and some Smoke Grenades this is the class you want if you like being in the thick of heavy firefights. The Scientist acts as the faction’s healer. She comes with deployable Healing Turret, an ejectable Symbiote Contagion, and an Assault Turret capable of shredding enemies into a fine paste. And last, we have the Commando, a class that uses a Sniper Rifle good for long range killing and detecting cloaked Ashraks.
The System Lords counter to the Soldier is the Jaffa, an armored foot soldier armed with a Staff Weapon and Stun Grenades. They are tough guys despite their silly little helmets. Ashraks are the cloaked assassins of the group and can move around invisibly to eliminate an enemy with one quick strike to the back. The last of the faction is the iconic Goa’uld, which serves as the faction’s healer and has a personal shield that makes him invulnerable to all but a Scientist’s poison cloud and explosive weaponry. Oh yeah, he can also melt your brain with his hand device, a bonus for fans of the show.
The game plays like many other third-person shooters on the market, such as Gears of War and Rainbow 6 Vegas, so if you’ve played these games the gameplay will seem a bit familiar. Players will pair off into two teams and try to achieve certain objectives for victory. As you shoot it out with the enemy, or stick a knife in their back from the shadows, you can work towards unlocking the game’s 56 achievements and earn points for your side in the Galactic Domination race, a mechanic that provides buffs to a faction for winning matches on each map. Unfortunately, there is no cover system in combat like you’ll find in many other third-person shooter games, which is surprising given that the company’s other game in development, Stargate Worlds, employs the use of a cover system as a major mechanic.
While the game plays well and the servers are pretty stable it’s not all sugar and candy. There are only three maps to choose from and each map is locked to a specific game type. The Stargate Command map’s game type is Capture Point, which is a variation of the Domination game from shooters like the Call of Duty series. Players will try to capture an area and hold it to earn points for their team. Piramess contains a weather device that can be used by players and is a variation of Capture the Flag, and Amarna is a Team Death Match map. The limitation of three maps becomes very repetitive and the inability to alternate the game type on those maps can make things get old quickly.
Community modding could help a great deal with content but at the moment FireSky has chosen not to support this option. The lack of support for community modding cuts out what could otherwise be a rich source of content. Counterstrike is a prime example of how community modding can extend the life of a game well beyond its expected life cycle.
There are things that the game lacks that also make it feel incomplete. One of the most notable is the lack of an in-game map to help find your team. The only map provided is a static objectives map, which doesn’t offer any details about where you or your team are in relation to anything. Given that this game relies on teamwork and certain classes to act as a medic, not having this simple tool complicates the gameplay a bit.
On the SGC map players are funneled toward certain points, so you pretty much know where your team is going to go, just not how they might get there. Unfortunately, the other two areas don’t offer the same advantage and lack a map capable of tracking your team, so instead of cooperative teamwork those games at times tend to devolve into an everyman run-and-gun for himself scenario. It also makes for some fun times (no, not really) as you wander aimlessly looking for your group only to have an Ashrak sneak up behind you and carve her initials into your spine. This is the first of several gripes related to grouping and teamwork support mechanics.
The next feature that impairs the game is its communication mechanic. There is no in-game voice chat, so communicating with your team is handled through text, which wouldn’t be bad if the text chat system wasn’t so terribly designed. You can’t adjust the duration of chat window visibility and often times if someone does say something it’s on and off the screen before you can blink. The only way to read what they have said is to stop what you’re doing and open up the console’s option to view the chat log, leaving yourself in a completely vulnerable position. The 50 character limitation of chat window text makes typing even a simple sentence a challenge. And when the chat filter censors out simple words like shot and kill, it only compounds the problem and confuses your team about your true intentions. Saying, “I desperately want to kill this guy” takes on a whole different meaning when it becomes “I desperately want to #@#@ this guy.”
The lack of a Friends List would be another sorely missed option, because if you can’t add people to a Friends List you can’t keep track of in-game buddies. As it stands, though, this doesn’t matter a great deal anyway because right now there is no way to form up and join a game together. Games are not set up by players, but by the system, so intentionally grouping with someone you know is tough, if not impossible. You just have to roll the dice and hope for the best when you join a game as you don’t have an option to see who is playing until you join. This also makes setting up your own voice chat a challenge since you never know what game your friends might be hiding in. And then, you don’t know if that particular game will pop up on your randomly generated game list.
Once you do join a game it’s not uncommon for the teams to become uneven. You could be in a game of 8vs8 and then all of a sudden it’s 8vs2. You might think this could be solved simply by the game auto-assigning teams to balance things out or by people manually switching over to the other team, but no. If you want to change teams you have to leave the game and hope that the map you were just in shows back up on your random list of active games. In the game’s defense, auto-assigning teams might not work well due to the Galactic Domination system, but the option to change sides without leaving the game would still be nice to have.
There are no character customization options or gender choices. Aside from different outfit kits with the preorder or through the FireSky store, all character outfits look the same, but character customization itself is not a feature. Each class is restricted to whatever gender they are assigned. Scientists and Ashrak are female, the rest of the classes are male.
Each class has a small weapon set that is specific to them and them alone, so you don’t have an arsenal of weapons to choose from. In other shooter games such as Gears of War you can scoop up the weapons of your fallen enemies, but that is not possible in Stargate Resistance. So don’t expect to find weapons like a P90 or hand gun for your Goa’uld. What you have is what you get.
Stargate Resistance does have a leveling system and this system is supposed to unlock new weapons and buffs for your character as you level up, but those items haven’t been implemented yet. As you participate in matches, you will earn experience that will be displayed at the end of each round. You only level whatever class you are playing at the time, so experience does not carry over from class to class. For some reason, the leveling progress bar was left out at launch, so you only know if you have leveled up through your achievements and character tab.
Despite all these missing or partially incomplete features, the gameplay is not bad, even with random teams, it can be quite fun at times. But with the limitation of maps and the restriction of game-types to those maps, it doesn’t take long for things to start getting stale. There are only so many different ways you can play a map and you’ll learn those quickly. After that, the game starts to feel like you’re part of the Stargate SG-1 episode “Window of opportunity” as you relive the same thing over and over. Even with different people it still becomes repetitive.
If you followed the game at all on the official website I’m sure you caught the discussions about how horrid the graphics looked in the game’s screenshots, but surprisingly, they are not as bad as many people had thought they would be. The levels are put together well and have a pretty decent artistic style and the SGC map is a bit of a Stargate nostalgic trip. The Stargate, and the effect you experience when you step through, were very well done and are simply amazing. Unfortunately, you only do this as the System Lords and only on the SGC map.
The environmental design is not bad and for the most part the graphics and artwork look pretty good and are about what you would expect from the Unreal engine. The character models are where the graphics start to falter a bit. There’s not a great level of detail and the character models look a bit dated compared to the rest of the well designed environments.
The combat sound effects are actually pretty good. The Jaffa Staff Weapon makes a sound very much like the one in the show and the P90 has that distinctive rapid fire. Getting to hear the phalange voice of a Goa’uld System Lord barking orders at you when you start a map is one of the finer sound elements to the game. However, the SGC and other System Lords voice actors did ham things up a bit and come off sounding a little goofy at times.
When it comes to the game’s music, I think the composer must have gone on strike. The only time you will hear any sort of music in this game is near the conclusion of a round and even that is very limited in variety. The rest of the fight is spent in utter silence save the subtle sounds of background fire and the occasional scripted radio chatter. There’s not even a theme at the login screen, just the sounds of burning fire and what I believe are bombs dropping in the distance. That, or a Jaffa pounding a drum.