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iPad and iPhone App - NOVA 3

Updated on April 28, 2014
NOVA for iPad
NOVA for iPad

Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance 3

Being the best at anything will automatically spark intrigue and the eager traffic that follows, which is why the third installment of the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance (NOVA 3) franchise has pushed Gameloft's reputation for fine FPS iOS games to the forefront of a room full of challengers.

You're back as futuristic, homesick super-marine Kal Wardin, in a bid to restore earth to her former glory by fighting off the two alien races that want no part of that reality – the Volterites and the Judgers.

You can opt to strafe enemies through multiple alien environments in several different modes; single player, free-for-all, deathmatch, daily tournaments over WI-Fi with other NOVA 3 players. The matches can get rather hairy, with in-game weapon upgrades being accessible in two ways:purchase credits or complete side quests to unleash the beast.

Now, while you may not actually need to purchase credits to finish the game in single-player, a few unsuccessful rounds with an alien machine-herc might suggest otherwise – if only out of sheer frustration.

The only downside to Nova is the control; but in all fairness, this is a property of the iPad/iPhone and any smaller touchscreen device.

If you hook it up to a larger screen, the controls do get much better because the smaller device now becomes the entire controlling mechanism.

For some reason, the responsiveness of the virtual dual-joystick controls ratchets up because of the broader surface.

I found the enhanced control exhilarating; because control is all that matters when you're jumping from earth-bound battles, to blasting alien torsos on a planetary surface that hovers between the extreme heat of Mercury and the extreme cold of Neptune.

With two alien races on your tail, the action in NOVA 3 never lets up; the Voltarites obviously don't want you to use the artifact to reawaken the dormant earth and provide a galactic challenge to their dominance, and the strange Judgers have unilaterally deemed it illegal for you to use the device.

In sum, you've got outright bad guys AND police after you – but NOVA 3 makes sure you aren't outgunned. The arsenal of weaponry is impressive, to say the least; and culminates in a robotic herc suit the size of a tank that lets you lay waste to battalions of enemy troops.

As you might have guessed, being lugged around in a powerful robot herc-suit all but eliminates the practicality of a closed-in environment full of hallways and walkways - like NOVA 2 had.

The third version is a considerably more expansive environment, and the open spaces in which to do battle will be refreshing to fans of the franchise and newcomers alike.

I would be surprised if you could come up with a more graphically brilliant and intense FPS than NOVA 3; even extending beyond the handheld and into the territory of gaming consoles.

The rendering of the environment is almost breathtaking, even after you blow it up to 1080p. It certainly relegates any other proclaimed graphics-king in the iOS app store to second-class citizenry – by far.

I've never seen what a flight-enabled alien looks like when it’s shot out of the sky by an ion-blaster; but I'm pretty sure NOVA 3's got it right. Using the right virtual joystick to scroll between the armada of weapons is almost perfect; a few early response issues notwithstanding.

In sum, then, the NOVA 3 graphics, in-game story elements and fighting experience have been catapulted to new levels for what a portable device is supposed to be capable of, and allows Gameloft's masterpiece to finally break free of the HALO-clone label attached to the previous two generations.

Even though the alien antagonist and earthly-response share just about everything except the precise names used in the X-BOX flagship title, NOVA 3 is too varied in just the right places to lurk in HALOs penumbra any longer – the multiple modes of play are enough to set it apart, as well as the weapon-independent powers possessed by the (super??) human protagonist Kal.

This dude can slow down time with a flick of his wrist, or hit aliens with a Luke Skywalker-inspired hand-wave of destruction – which comes in handy when you're surrounded and need to clear a room before unloading the big guns.

N.O.V.A 3 iOS Video Game App

The gameplay in this preeminent FPS (first person shooter) is alternately reminiscent of Crysis 2, Call of Duty, Modern Combat 3 and other similarly intense programs.

It puts them all together, however, in a way that surpasses the individual parts – especially for a non-console game – making for a semi-unique mish-mash of rollicking fun that can fill up half-a-day for the explorer-type player.

Which iOS device do you want?

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