N.O.V.A. 3 Review

Gameloft is a developer that does a great job of getting console-quality games to mobile, and N.O.V.A. 3 is just one such title.

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The third game in the N.O.V.A. FPS series, it capitalizes on the success of the last two titles to offer a great action-packed single player game. It has full support for Apple’ latest hardware, so it results in some very impressive visuals.

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In N.O.V.A. 3 you follow the never-ending trials of Kal Warden, a man in a shiny metal suit who is recalled into action again to the ruins of San Francisco to help out an old friend.

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Of course from there you’ll travel to more places and planets, and even a spaceship infected with Volterites, the alien bad guys in the story with less shiny suits.

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I’ll try to save the spoilers, but basically Kal has to save the entire human race again, and has to blast through everything from Aliens to Humans and even Judgers, the uber-alien all-knowing guys of the storyline.

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If you’re experienced with the genre, the gameplay would be familiar enough. You basically follow the waypoint maker in your HUD and explore a whole bunch of places while battling through enemies and trying to complete goals. No surprise there.

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You also go from on-foot battles, to piloting giant Mechs, weapons on top of trucks, sniping, and even manning a gun post.

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Gameloft has definitely found the formula for a successful FPS, and while it doesnt really offer anything new or revolutionary in terms of gameplay, N.O.V.A. 3 definitely succeeds in the way it works.

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You also earn currency by completing single player levels, that you can use in the in-game store to buy new weapons or upgrades. The currency you get is proportional to how well you complete a level, so you’ll have to try extra hard to get as high a score as possible. Of course there’s the standard In-App Purchase where you could just use plain ol’ money to get things. Which does lessen the experience a little.

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Now usually with FPS genre games on the iPad, it’s only as good as it’s controls. Thankfully though, N.O.V.A. 3 provides a very competent, smart scheme for the touchscreen, with the usual dual-stick controls and swipe gestures to swap weapons or powers. It also uses the gyroscope, which can make aiming pretty fun and accurate-ish.

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Though that being said, the number of onscreen controls can be overwhelming at times. I’m still not sure what button or gesture triggers the slow motion bullet-time effect that I’ve mistakenly used a couple times.

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The action starts off fast and furious, right at the beginning, and the start and you will have to be quick to survive. You also have to keep a track of how much ammunition you’re using, as supplies are limited.

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It’s worth mentioning though, that I tried the game on my iPhone and my iPad, both of which can handle the game well, but admittedly N.O.V.A. 3 feels a bit cramped on the tiny screen of the iPhone, compared to all the screen real estate of the iPad.

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Really, as nice as the game looks on the iPhone, N.O.V.A. 3 is begging to be played on an iPad. Either the iPad 2 or the new iPad. The large, retina display of the new iPad really helps you appreciate how insane those visuals are. The whole fact that something this great looking manages to run on something that thin, at a solid framerate, totally blows my mind.

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If you haven’t played any of the previous N.O.V.A. games, that’s not a problem, although you might be tempted to download them after playing this. The game stands on its own and the short intro/tutorial will get you up to speed quickly.

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There’s also a whole bunch of options like auto-aim to help out with playing the game, if you’re new to the whole touchscreen game scene. I’m sure there are peeps out there that wont get used to controls on a touchscreen though, but as far as FPS controls go, N.O.V.A. 3 does a really good job of helping you blast away at aliens while navigating around gorgeous looking levels.

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Yup those interactive environments you tread around look pretty fantastic, making full use of the hardware of the iPhone 4S and even the new iPad. The weather effects, the textures, the frame rate, the shadows, it’s all stunning, and incredibly well done. I’d say it’s the most visually impressive First Person Shooters I’ve ever played on iOS.

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It’s not entirely perfect though. There are funny little mishaps that happen with the graphics engine, like for instance once, Kal was infinitely falling through an environment. There are also somewhat lengthy loading screens, but considering the sizes of the levels, it’s really forgivable. There are slowdowns very, very occasionally if there’s a lot of action going on, on the screen, but it really doesnt detract from the visually impressive masterpiece that is N.O.V.A. 3.

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All that being said, the game isnt just impressive eye candy. The story in the campaign is pretty entertaining, the controls are decent, and there are plenty of options, which all mean a pretty well-rounded FPS experience with very balanced gameplay.

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Of course, the background music and audio also helps with the overall experience, from the powerful gun-shots and explosions to the great voice acting. It’s all very well suited, and sounds excellent, especially if you’re using a pair of headphones.

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The 5 hour (ish) campaign mode is compelling, but the addition of local wi-fi multiplayer and also an online version, via Gameloft LIVE, means you’re going to be playing this for months.

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There’s six different multiplayer game modes and also weekly tournaments to keep things interesting, and there’s no more rewarding an experience than blowing up a bunch of your friends onscreen avatars.

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All together, at $6.99, N.O.V.A.3 is a bargain. There are games that push the boundaries of mobile gaming, and this is one of them. It does come at a price though, but that’s the massive 1.5 GB of storage space it requires on your iOS device.

If you’re a fan of FPS games on your iPhone or iPad, then you’ll most definitely want to pick this one up. It’s a universal game so even if you download it on your iPad, you’ll see it pop up on your iPhone as well.

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[col_1_4 style="box border box_green"]
[title]The Good:[/title]

- Stunning graphics
- Entertaining campaign mode
- Multiplayer

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[col_1_4 style="box border box_yellow"]
[title]The Bad:[/title]

- Controls can be a little overwhelming at first
-Quality comes with size: 1.5GB.

[/col_1_4]
[col_1_4 style="box border box_blue"]
[title]The Verdict:[/title]
N.O.V.A.3 feels more console-like than any other iOS game out there.
[/col_1_4]

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About The Author

Clinton is currently based in New Delhi, India and is executive editor for UnleashThePhones. He is responsible for all editorial decisions, and covers all forms of Mobile and things-that-connect-to-mobile. Cj is addicted to Starbucks, Instagram, and technology. Almost a hipster but not quite. Always up for a good conversation, you can reach him through the contact form, on Google Plus , Instagram Instagram or Twitter: or on YouTube

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