When the N.O.V.A. series kicked off, it was clearly a Halo wannabe. The second incarnation, N.O.V.A. 2 ramped things up – a bit like Halo on steroids. The third version N.O.V.A. 3 is here on iOS (and eventually for Android) and finally steps out from Halo’s shadow.
We’ve been getting to grips with it on the iPad 2 and the new setting of ruined earth really shows what it can dovoices, the graphics and the storyline are all bigger, bolder and better.
Cinematic set pieces punctuated by shoot outs are the order of the day – be it in underground car parks or ruined shopping malls – with vehicle sections, on rails gun turret battles and much more. Essentially more of everything that made previous titles great: more locations, more weapons, more enemy variants and higher octane set pieces.
The first thing you notice is how much faster and action packed N.O.V.A. 3 is: you react quicker, turn sharper and run faster. On the iPad 2 we didn’t have any issues of lag or slow down, although load times between scenes are a bit slow.
The new setting of ruined early really shows what the graphics engine can do. Graphics are far superior to previous incarnations of N.O.V.A’s with high-resolution textures, dynamic lighting and shadows, but it’s the neat little touches like heat distortion rising from your gun barrel – that demonstrate how good the graphics are – genuine console grade. Interestingly we’ve complaints online from new iPad 3 users because these next-gen graphical elements like the heat effect are missing.
N.O.V.A. 3 does include some new features. You can now look down the aim down the sights of your weapons, which really helps with accurate aiming.
A military shop (right pic) allows you to buy grenades, abilities and permanent exotic weaponry unlocks, accessible from the pause menu at any time. Credits are earned by performance – adding incentive to do well or if you can’t be bothered just by them as an in-app purchase.
Real time online multiplayer returns too, this time multiple allies can jump in the same vehicle, adding a new dimension and making battles even more hectic. We didn’t have a chance to try it, but there have been complaints multiplayer is a bit jerky on the new iPad. This isn’t a surprise because lets not forget the new iPad’s A5X chip is dual-core – like the iPad 2 – yet the screen resolution has been doubled, which takes power.
The previous versions of N.O.V.A. were good, but this is outstanding. Slightly rougher, more gritty and real definitely with a darker tone adding much needed believability. N.O.V.A. 3 is clearly easily the best first person shooter on the iPad – but perhaps at it’s best on the iPad 2?
We’ve shot a quick video on the new iPad, we’ll be taking a closer look at the differences between the iPad 2 and new iPad 3 over the next few days.