N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

The third instalment in the epic futuristic first person shooter

The first-person shooter market on iOS is a incredibly competitive place, with new titles constantly looking to push the boundaries of what is possible on a mobile device from a gameplay and visual perspective.

The third instalment of the N.O.V.A. series is set four years after the second, with you once again taking control of Commander Kal Wardin as he comes out of hiding and returns to the formerly abandoned planet Earth. While the protagonist and indeed the enemies will be familiar to players, the visuals have taken a huge step forward. Play this game on the new iPad and you will see the effort that has been put in to make this game stand out on mobile devices. The physics system has been completely overhauled so that enemies now display ragdoll characteristics when hit with grenades and other heavy impacts. There have also been advances in the lighting, with shadows looking more realistic, and the environment around can now take noticeable damage from gunfire. These are just a few of the little touches that add up to a much more sophisticated looking game, and something that wouldn’t look out of place on a console.

In terms of gameplay, N.O.V.A. is not for the faint hearted, with some pretty intense firefights from the word go. Although the first couple of minutes come with a short tutorial, an assumption is made that you know what you’re doing when it comes to first-person shooters on a mobile device. You are going to need to know how to handle yourself, as the enemy Volterites are a nasty piece of work, with impressive AI that sees enemy troops regroup and organise themselves as you attack, and seek you out when you take cover. It keeps the action flowing and ensures that you keep your fingers primed throughout each level. There are ten levels in total to play through, but that doesn’t mean this is a short game, as each one can take up to 45 minutes to complete, so you are getting your money’s worth. N.O.V.A’s famed multiplayer has also been given a boost, with the most notable aspect being that multiple players can jump into the same vehicle and set about the battlefield.

The control setup is also solid for the most part, with the usual on-screen icons for firing your weapons, while swiping on the ammunition display allows you to scroll through the different weapons currently at your disposal. The only issue comes with the floating joypad, which predominantly sticks to the bottom-left corner. However, placed just above this is the sprint icon, and from time to time you might find yourself charging forward into enemy strongholds when all you wanted to do was move to the left behind cover.

Back to the positives though, and you can’t say that developer Gameloft hasn’t given you variation. With an array of landscapes and locations to take in with each level this feels like a very big world. It also helps that there is an impressive arsenal of weapons for you to pick up and use on your enemies, from a handy pistol as your sidearm, all the way up to grenade and rocket launchers. The same can also be said for your enemies, with foot soldiers as well as flying fighters, snipers and armoured vehicles all in your way at some point. It’s safe to say you will need the range of weapons that N.O.V.A has on offer for you.

This new game also benefits from a strong sense of theatre that has been built into the story. The soundtrack throughout is fantastic and the dialogue does a good job of keeping you informed and interested without ever turning into overly lengthy cut scenes. It’s a cinematic experience, particularly if you choose to wear headphones while playing, and this level of entertainment is high in both single and multiplayer modes.

This is another step forward for the world of games on mobile devices. The improved physics as well as better than ever use of lighting means Gameloft has got this series really looking the part. Couple this with the expansive universe, and the range of enemies and weapons, and this game will have no trouble keeping your attention.

Rated 5 out of 5

Another step forward for mobile gaming in terms of both visuals and gameplay.