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

If I told you Gameloft killed an innocent puppy* every time someone downloaded N.O.V.A., would that stop you from doing so? Nah, didn’t think so…

Undoubtedly the most eagerly anticipated iPhone/iPod Touch title of the year (and maybe ever), this first-person shooter certainly has planetary levels of hype to live up to. The game puts you in the over-sized boots of Master Chief lookalike/wannabe/clone, Karl Warden, an ex-member of the titular Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, whose been dragged back into active duty for the obligatory one last mission.

That mission is to investigate a ghost ship that’s drifting dangerously close to the human occupied “near-orbitals.” Predictably, it’s crawling with tooled up extra-terrestrial nasties hell bent on eradicating our species. And predictably, the only way to stop them is not through calm adult discussion over a nice cup of tea, but rather by slaughtering every last one of the slimy suckers.

Okay, so the plot is a clichéd slice of sci-fi hokum, but honestly who plays a game like N.O.V.A. and expects Shakespeare? Exactly, no-one. Instead it’s all about ridiculously big guns, slick action, and multiplayer bloodbaths. So it gives me great pleasure to report Gameloft’s latest delivers on all these fronts…and then some!

The French developers extraordinaire cross most every sci-fi shooter staple off their their check-list as N.O.V.A. hurtles from one explosive action set piece to the next, referencing (or ripping off, depending on your view) some of the biggest names in the business (HALO, Dead Space etc, etc).

That said, the game interprets and utilises it’s inspirations admirably. Gunplay is fast paced and fluid thanks to a well devised control scheme, while the graphics are gorgeous and at times utterly jawdropping. From the claustrophobic confines of the hijacked space-ship (all spurting steam and winding corridors) to the impressive outdoors environments, N.O.V.A. is nothing short of porn for your peepers.

The solo campaign is of a more than decent length by iPhone/iPod standards (are you paying attention CoD: Zombies?), whilst multiplayer deathmatches add further longevity and replayability. All in all, the game is an absolute blast from start to finish, and has the scope to develop into the premium first-person shooter franchise on the iplatform. Believe the hype, N.O.V.A. is stellar and the closest thing you can get to HALO in your pocket!

*For legal reasons iFanzine would like to stress no animals were harmed in the making of or distribution of this game.

iFanzine Verdict: N.O.V.A. is super, maybe not the most original shooter in the universe, but the best the Appstore has to offer.

9.5 out of 10

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