Through N.O.V.A., developer Gameloft points squarely in Halo’s direction and screams, “I love you, man!” Yes, Gameloft wears its appreciation of Bungie’s Halo series proudly on its sleeve. In fact, it’s not hard to imagine N.O.V.A.’s developers sitting around in Halo t-shirts, wearing Halo caps and waving Halo flags as they play – what’s it called again? – Halo. But that’s by no means a bad thing. Indeed, Gameloft has only gone and created the best first person shooter the iPhone has to offer.
In New Orbital Vanguard Alliance (or N.O.V.A., for short), you play the part of Kal Wardin, a former soldier reluctantly drafted back into action to save Earth from nasty aliens. Nothing original there, true, but from the cinematic opening trailer, it’s clear N.O.V.A. is set to be a first-class ride.
While Archetype flirts primarily with multiplayer gamers, N.O.V.A. focuses firmly on its solo campaign. There are 13 levels in total, from gigantic space stations to snowy mountains and strange alien worlds, and they all look fantastic. It’ll take you several hours to see N.O.V.A. through to its climax.
Prior to picking up N.O.V.A., I had my reservations about first person shooters on the iPhone. The controls never felt quite right, but that’s not the case here. Gameloft takes the system from its previous shooter, Modern Combat: Sandstorm, and refines it; you move with a virtual stick on the left, while using your right thumb to look around. There are dedicated fire and jump buttons in the bottom right corner, and your inventory is in the top right.
Controlling N.O.V.A. with the touchscreen is mostly great, but you won’t mind the odd bit of help from the aim-assist feature when things get a little frantic. It never feels cheap; more like a gentle push in the right direction.
The range of weapons is fairly standard – pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle – but it’s immensely fun blasting aliens away on the small screen. There are grenades, too, and Kal even has the power to freeze enemies temporarily. The trade-off is that doing so drops your shield strength, leaving you vulnerable. As such, you have to carefully choose when to use the power.
In N.O.V.A.’s four-person multiplayer, you can take on friends locally or do battle over Wi-Fi, but – as mentioned before – the real meat of N.O.V.A. is in its solo campaign.
The only gripe with N.O.V.A. is its lack of originality, but it plays so well that it’s barely an issue. And who wouldn’t want a first-class Halo clone for the iPhone?
- Great control system
- Lengthy solo campaign
- Top-notch graphics
- Not exactly original
- Costs a few quid (£2.99)
- Large file (258MB)
Summary: N.O.V.A. is essentially Halo – one of the greatest first person shooters of all time – on your iPhone. Superb.
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Price: £2.99 @App Store