N.O.V.A - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD for iPhone, iPad and iPod

If iPhone gaming has taught us one thing it's that despite some sterling efforts and exceptional creativity, first-person shooters don't really work on handheld touch devices. Within around five minutes of playing NO.V.A. on an iPad, you're ready to forget what you have learnt. Where the original iPhone game was a fun diversion hampered by cramped controls constantly encroaching on the screen, the iPad version feels for the first time like console gaming in your hand.

Graphically the game is stunning. Whether trooping along the corridors of starships or marching through alien jungles, the worlds you fight through are influenced by games like Halo and Unreal and bear-up well under those comparisons; there's detail, depth and atmosphere and, it makes for an immersive experience. What's more, the controls are surprisingly easy to master.

N.O.V.A - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD
N.O.V.A - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD

You move using the left thumbstick, and look around by dragging a right finger anywhere on the screen. Firing, and aiming while you fire, is controlled by a second 'thumbstick' on the right. Youll quickly discover that rather than gripping the iPad in your hands and using your thumbs for control, this is a game better played on your lap, so that all five digits of your right hand can quickly move from looking to aiming to jumping, reloading, switching weapons and throwing grenades. It's easier than it sounds, and you can drag the virtual controls around the screen to better suit your reach.

With 13 levels across five environments, the single-player mission should keep you occupied for a good few hours, but once you're done there's still an extremely enjoyable multiplayer death-match - you can jump straight in to an online game with up to three other players and while the action is kept simple it's more than frantic enough to satisfy all but the most hardcore gamers.

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