N.O.V.A. 2 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first, shall we? Yes, NOVA was eerily similar to Halo, showcasing publisher Gameloft’s penchant for… adapting… well-known franchises for mobile platforms. NOVA 2, coming out a good year after its predecessor, obviously does the same thing. It doesn’t rock the boat too much, providing another generically sci-fi shooting experience on your iPad. But if you can move past that (and some other things), you’ll find a solidly constructed game at the center.

Let’s get the singleplayer out of the way first: it’s immediately more exciting than the first NOVA, providing almost non-stop set pieces. The voice acting is awful, the setting soulless, and the plot somewhat nonsensical, but the developers sure know how to string together a bunch of action sequences. That right there is worth some points — if you want some mindless shooting and strafing on your iPad, this is definitely some of the best available.

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I say mindless, but things can actually get pretty interesting in the midst of a firefight. With a wide array of guns, grenades, and special moves available, there are always multiple ways you can destroy your enemies (or simply try and survive). And the enemies themselves can be refreshingly smart at times, flanking and suppressing you until you start acting smart yourself. Finally, the vehicles available are actually good, which will come as a relief to anyone who’s suffered through the many terrible FPS vehicle moments out there. I especially recommend hopping inside a mech, it’s fun.

It’s the multiplayer, however, that was much more fun. Due to the controls, it feels pretty haphazard at times, but it still manages to capture the mayhem that FPS deathmatches are known for. All the usual modes are here, and up to 10 players can rip each other apart in an arena. This is what people should spend their time doing in NOVA 2 — don’t worry about the campaign.

But those controls are what I keep coming back to. Frankly, I really detest playing an iOS game that has virtual buttons. Gameloft has done what it can, but this is far from an ideal platform for first person shooters. Have you got a console, or even a dedicated handheld gaming device? Find a shooter on there — it’ll be better. But if you aren’t like me, and really want an FPS on the iPad, then NOVA 2 is both highly derivative and highly polished.

"Unoriginal, with poor controls, but still a highly polished experience."
- N.O.V.A. 2 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD
Follow Own it? Rating: PG   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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