When N.O.V.A. first came out, there was a strong resemblance to the Halo series. Back then the graphics took us all by surprise when we first saw the game demoed at an Apple event.
“Four months have passed since Kal ruined the Volterites’ plans by sabotaging their war factories, and stopping the extraction of the Judger Artifacts. However, following the assassination of President Folsom, the government surrendered the colonies to the Volterite Protectorate in order to prevent civil war between the increasingly pro-Volterite citizens.”
After it’s initial release, Gameloft was back at it again with an enhanced version on the iPad, which was demoed at the original iPad keynote. Again, we were taken back. Since then a lot has changed hardware wise, and with N.O.V.A. 3, Gameloft takes full advantage of that.
Although you’re back playing as Kal Wardin, you’ll now be equipped with a sleeker suit, with telekinetic abilities making a return. Visually, the game now reminds me a lot more of Crysis rather than Halo, and that’s perfectly fine. Where the game really shines is when you play it on the new iPad. Besides a few hiccups during some scenes, the game runs surprisingly smooth with amazing graphics. N.O.V.A.3 focuses on more realistic-looking environments, starting off in the ruins of a future San Francisco, but moving on to larger levels like an abandoned Judger spaceship; they all look gorgeous. The other devices also seem to run the game fine, with the iPhone 4S actually running the game a bit smoother, but not as eye-catching. Graphics aside, Gameloft also stepped up its game with the voice acting. Although still not great, it is a noticeable improvement from some of other Gameloft games (like 9mm).
Gameloft continues to have the best FPS on touch screens to date. If you’ve ever played a Gameloft FPS, than the control scheme should be familiar to you: dual-stick controls, with swipe gestures for swapping between weapons and powers. On top of that there are buttons for grenades, sprinting, and jumping.
You can customize the controls a bit, by enabling gyroscope controls for more fun, or auto-aim to help out those of you having issues with the touch controls. If there’s one complain about the way the game controls is that it feels a bit cluttered on the iPhone, compared to playing it on the iPad’s larger screen. There’s not much Gameloft can do about this though, and for what it matters, you can still play the game perfectly fine on an iPhone or iPod touch.
N.O.V.A. 3 doesn’t exactly revolutionize the FPS genre on the AppStore, but Gameloft sticks to it’s proven formula and delivers a great game. Despite some minor frame rate and control issues, N.O.V.A. 3 goes straight for the gold and tries to provide a console FPS experience on the go, and it comes pretty close.
One of the first things you’ll notice right from the beginning is that the game has larger environments that allow movement around the map as you fight your enemies. The core gameplay will remain the same, which is taking out the bad guys with a variety of weapons. The A.I, while nowhere near genius level, certainly feels more natural and aware than in some other games (like MC3, for comparison).
Occasionally you’ll have a turret, mech, or another character who will provide backup, that will spicen up the gameplay a bit. Putting aside the single player, N.O.V.A 3 once again nails the multiplayer portion. There are 6 different modes, including ‘Capture the Flag’, ‘Team Deathmatch’, and perhaps my favorite ‘Freeze Tag’. Multiplayer can be anywhere from 2 to 12 players across a variety of maps, and in my experience when playing over WiFi the multiplayer worked almost flawlessly.
N.O.V.A.3 is unlike anything on the AppStore right now, with a good chunk of content on single player, addictive and varied multiplayer, and gorgeous graphics. There are some minor grips with frame rate and controls, but you can easily put that aside and just enjoy the game. N.O.V.A.3 is a great step forward for console style games on mobile, and things can only get better from here.