N.O.V.A. was a shameless Halo clone that still deployed some of the tightest and most rewarding gunplay on the iPhone. You might expect the sequel to promise more of the same with slight tweaks to the formula, and broadly speaking, you'd be absolutely right.
N.O.V.A. 2's singleplayer campaign stretches over ten stages, throughout which you'll visit exotic planets and viciously exterminate everything that so much as glances in your direction. Everything you're used to from full-blooded console FPS games have been faithfully ported over to the iPhone- and in fact, it's mechanically superior to many retail releases I suffered through over at Dealspwn.
The slick virtual thumbstick controls have been sharpened up since the first outing, granting players fingertip access to a devastating array of weaponry and nifty armour abilities. Freezing enemies mid-attack with a paralysing EMP blast is especially satisfying. This may sound suspiciously familiar to the original, but N.O.V.A. 2 ups the ante with truly exceptional pacing.
The campaign delights in throwing new and interesting situations at the player, meaning that the action simply doesn't have a chance to become stale. One minute you'll be defending an assembly line in a tense claustrophobic shootout, only to climb into the finished Mech and rain unstoppable death down on the alien hordes. The next minute, you'll be speeding along coastal roads on a buggy's machine gun turret.
Some of these disparate gameplay elements admittedly don't work quite as well as the others (especially a long defensive mission that becomes a chore around half way through) but this is the exception rather than the rule. Variety is the spice of death, after all- and N.O.V.A. 2 has us covered.
N.O.V.A. 2 is graphically superior to its predecessor, but visuals have moved on since the first outing. Whilst the experience still looks great on a retina display, they lacks the 'wow' factor that Kal's first outing once commanded. Explosions and impressive effects provide plenty of eye candy, but with the likes of Infinity Blade have raised the bar somewhat.
Still, I have to review games based on what they do offer, not what they could. It looks great. Enough said.
Once you've sated your thirst for big-budget solo action, the real meat of the experience can be found online. You'll need a fast connection to take full advantage of the multiplayer, but once you've created a Gameloft Live account, N.O.V.A. 2 offers an delectable smorgasboard of game modes, ranks and impressively balanced gameplay. What was a fun novelty in the original has now become the most important part of the package. You won't find better on the iPhone.
- Meaty, tight and unpredictable campaign
- Slick controls and visuals
- Excellent multiplayer suite
- Boring defence level
- Graphics lack 'wow' factor
- Quirky netcode
Summary: N.O.V.A. 2 is the best First Person Shooter on the iPhone, bar none. Just buy it already.
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Price: £3.99 - App Store