N.O.V.A. 2 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

Ryan Rigney
24 February, 2011
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Gameloft’s first-person sci-fi shooter makes a welcome return – but its frenetic gameplay could put off casual players

Gameloft’s original N.O.V.A defined what a first-person shooter on iOS devices should be. Since then other games, like id’s Rage, have moved the genre on in terms of graphics and gameplay, making N.O.V.A 2 feel evolutionary rather than revolutionary. It’s still worth the price of admission nonetheless.

N.O.V.A. 2 wastes little time on the backstory or training and drops you straight into the action instead. The game’s controls are intuitive to use and, like all FPS, boil down to moving, selecting a weapon and shooting. As an added twist, N.O.V.A takes advantage of the gyroscopes in the iPhone 4, enabling you to look around the game just by moving your phone – it’s a neat way to make the gameplay feel more real and simplifies the touch controls too.

The game’s AI is one of the best we’ve seen; enemies are smart enough to know to actively duck for cover and use basic infantry team techniques to good effect.

Both the game’s graphics and sounds are top-notch; the former take full advantage of the iPhone 4’s Retina display, while the latter combines a hard rock soundtrack with excellent sound effects. Our only gripe is that N.O.V.A 2 could do a better job of creating depth of field: the screen looks busy at all times and it can be hard to tell enemies apart from the scenery.

N.O.V.A 2 also includes a multi-player mode offering five different game types. Owners of the original N.O.V.A. also get added bonuses, including the the ability to start the game with additional experience and access to advanced weaponry.

If you’re a fan of FPS, then N.O.V.A. 2 has it all: beautiful graphics, great gameplay, excellent controls and smart opponents. Casual gamers will find the game difficult to master without significant commitment and are, therefore, less likely to enjoy it fully.

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