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NOVA Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance Review: The Best FPS on the Platform

Many people, including me, were extremely excited for NOVA to be released after it was announced at the Apple News Event.  Of course, it was developed by the trusty folks over at Gameloft who brought us other titles like Modern Combat Sandstorm.  While many people including me also have a problem with Gameloft’s copies, at least the copies are well done.

If you’re looking for Halo on the iPhone, look no further.  I truly believe Gameloft did a great job with NOVA and unlike Modern Combat Sandstorm, it features some of the smoothest online multiplayer I’ve seen, rivaling the likes of Eliminate.  For $6.99, I would state the simple fact: You’re getting a steal.

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Graphics: When Gameloft claimed that NOVA would be the most graphically impressive game on the device, they weren’t lying.  The gun’s graphics to the environments were all done quite niftily, and I was totally blown away by the graphics.  Enemies were also very detailed, and the overall look was more than any other game on the platform.  If you’ve seen Modern Combat, it’s basically the same, basic look with different guns and environments.  I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything close to rivaling this game’s graphics until Epic releases their Unreal Engine 3 for the iPhone.

Variety: Enemy variety, level variety, you name it.  The game is varied from every level and every stage along with many different environments and many different backgrounds.  There actually weren’t as many enemies as I would have liked, but there wasn’t just one type here then another type there.

Online Multiplayer: I honestly didn’t think that Gameloft would get this right anytime soon, seeing the Modern Combat Sandstorm multiplayer fiasco.  But they were prepared for this one, and it’s obvious that it took some time to test everything and smooth out all the kinks.  They finally got it right though, after two or three games with disappointing online play.  I was so surprised with the smoothness of the online multiplayer that I literally sat there in disbelief.

While there’s only Deathmatch so far, it’s enough to be called online multiplayer.  I’m surprised that it even works let alone adding tons of different maps all with different styles.  If you were worrying about the online, I can tell you right now that it works buttery smooth.  It rivals Eliminate in smoothness, and I haven’t had any crashes, framerate drops, or disconnections once.

Content: The single player campaign is actually not that short, and if you play in short spurts of time, you’ll be playing the campaign for a total of 4 to 5 hours.  Each level took me an average of 15 to 20 minutes, and with 13 levels, it’s more than enough.  The online multiplayer is also another feature that should adds tons more replay value.  For $6.99, I personally think you get tons of content.

AI: I must admit that Modern Combat Sandstorm featured some pitiful enemy AI, and they acted as if you weren’t even there if you run away.  But the AI in NOVA has been greatly improved to follow you, shoot at you, and use all their power to try and kill you.  It may just be that these aliens are naturally smarter than the humans you find in Modern Combat, but Gameloft did a good job of improving upon the defects in MC:S.

Controls: Like MC:S, NOVA nailed down the controls for an FPS, even featuring a jump button that is placed quite conveniently underneath the fire button.  During online multiplayer, the controls worked well enough for quick shots and moving quickly through the map.  The jump button was also used frequently unlike Eliminate in where the jump button was too much of a chore to use.

Dislikes

Linear: There’s really no exploration or traveling through the map; it’s basically go here then go there.  While that’s reasonable, more people who love adventure won’t enjoy the linear gameplay.  This is a feature in most of Gameloft’s games though, including Modern Combat Sandstorm and other third-person titles like Terminator Salvation.  I would have loved an open-world, but understand that that would have been a little too much.

Gameloft truly outdid themselves with this game, and I was totally blown away by NOVA.  I had unusually high expectations for NOVA, and they seemed to beat every single one of them by a mile.  If you’re an action game fan at all, you’ll be highly impressed with NOVA more than any other game.  Let’s just face it: it’s one of the best games I have ever played on the iPhone.

NOVA Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $6.99.




  1. Bob on Tuesday 22, 2009

    I kinda wann know if this game is any similar to halo. Some1 pls respond

  2. Jeff on Tuesday 22, 2009

    Very. It’s almost like a clone of Halo.

  3. TheChosenOne on Tuesday 22, 2009

    I couldnt disagree with this review more. Variety?? GTFO – There is about 3 re-coloured enemies. Also the online multiplayer in no way stacks up to Eliminate Pro, which is completely free. One the other hand, the non-linearity is something the game got spot on. I was extremely impressed to find some side-quests @ alternate endings – something which most console FPS’ are lacking. What were you expecting? Fallout 3?

  4. Daniel on Tuesday 22, 2009

    Level variety, not enemy variety. If you actually read the variety part of the review, you’ll see that I mentioned there weren’t as many enemy types as I would have liked. Eliminate Pro is made for exclusive online play while NOVA wasn’t; it has an offline storyline. It would only make sense for Eliminate Pro to be slightly better.