N.O.V.A. 3 is Gameloft’s next entry in their iOS first person shooter series. The series is tonally somewhere between Halo and Metroid Prime, but doesn’t really have the writing to match either.The single player mode is not bad. It’s a fairly well thought out campaign with a ton of action. Continuing the saga of Kal Warden, N.O.V.A. 3 picks up right where the last game left off. It cribs heavily from Halo again, though it isn’t as compelling. The Xenos are not nearly as menacing or as well defined as the Covenant, and their attempts to add intrigue on the human side of the conflict don’t fare much better. Most of the cut scenes are drawn out, and the dialog isn’t very engaging. I don’t want to beat it up too badly, because the game plays well. The aim assist handicaps the limits of FPS play on a touchscreen. Though it plays well, the campaign doesn’t have a lot of replay. These stages are small and linear, and there’s not much reward in exploring.
I don’t think that Gameloft was looking into copying the fullness of Halo’s storylines. What they wanted to do was approximate the campaign while mimicking the multiplayer as closely as possible. It has Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Point Capture, and Freeze Tag modes. I think that you can easily make the case that this is the full online gaming experience of ten years ago. This really does a lot to save the game overall. Not only does this supplant the mediocre single player game, it actually is worth the purchase price on its own.
That isn’t to say that it’s perfect. There are a lot of rookie mistakes in the multiplayer that you would think Gameloft would have smoothed out by the third game. Spawn points still end up in the middle of the battle far too often. The weapons and vehicles aren’t even close to balanced. There’s also a pretty limited map selection. I think that the biggest irritation with the online portion is that you’re forced to create a sign on for Gameloft’s proprietary online service. I’m not sure why this game isn’t hooked into Game Center. This may be for cross platform play, but I think the backend could have been invisible to the user.
All in all though, this is a pretty good game for $6.99. Though you’ve seen a lot of games start to include multiplayer, there doesn’t seem to be anything as well thought out as N.O.V.A. 3. It may owe quite a bit to other franchises, but Gameloft has done enough to make this their own property.