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N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance Review

By , on May 10, 2012

N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance
  • Publisher: Gameloft
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Released: 10 May, 2012
  • Size: 1.8 GB
  • Price: $6.99
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Gorgeous locations; level designs make good use of each area.
  • Solid story and action pacing; balanced mix of action and exploration/puzzle elements with a dash of 'stealth'.
  • Smooth online play with multiple modes; pay-to-advance absent, but 'cash' can still be purchased via IAP.


  • Default control layout / interface feels out of place; may require personal adjustment.
  • Poorly executed in-game cinematics and sequences; broken sequences, characters popping in/out.
  • Pay-to-power-up system still feels out of place; destroys pacing / balance if used - difficulty modes should have been sufficient enough.
  • Loading areas poorly placed. 'Alternate' levels such as the vehicle stage feel incomplete; bad controls and design.


The NOVA series once again pushes iOS devices large and small to new visual heights, but also manages to stumble over key features, letting the whole production down; thankfully the multiplayer is as rock-solid as ever and fleshes out what the campaign can't execute on.

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

N.O.V.A. 3 (NOVA3) is not above bombast and indeed it kicks things off in an explosive and gorgeous way. What follows is most certainly Gameloft's best entry in the science-fiction FPS series, but an unrelenting series of sequences that seem incomplete or untested drag the game back from the brink of excellence.

The setting is a familiar one - Earth (or what remains of it) is under attack and you as the disgruntled, gravel-voiced hero are called back (despite saying you were done helping people out) to defend it. Only there's a twist - your hero had a good reason for staying away and is promptly made to clean up an intergalactic mess. As such you'll be teleported around the galaxy, visiting areas that are familiar and alien alike to pay off the debt humanity has incurred.

NOVA3 is yet another FPS title that takes advantage of Gameloft's experience in the field, utilizing simple shooting controls that come in three touch configurations and a gyroscope option for those feeling a bit adventurous. Unfortunately the default button layout leaves a lot to be desired, resulting in misfires, though this can be corrected via interface customization.

Far less impressive is the constant reminder that the game feels incomplete, with many cut-scenes, interactive sequences and alternate modes bugging out or controlling terribly. Squad-mates will phase in to existence from nowhere, the order of an encounter can be reversed entirely, and some fights can be broken/interrupted in such a way as to stall progression.

Aside from these moments, the game paces itself well, mixing up small action sequences and puzzles with intense fights that can range from taking on huge enemies to overwhelming odds. Although each level is ostensibly linear, they're designed to make perfect use of and highlight each gorgeous location.

While the main campaign features 10 stages and will take the better part of an afternoon to complete, the multiplayer mode is the real reason you'll keep coming back for more.

Featuring the same experience-based unlocks of previous Gameloft FPS titles, players can jump in to one of several gameplay modes including Capture the Flag, InstaGib, and the strangely addictive 'Freeze Tag' mode that punishes Rambo-like players and rewards strong team-play. Playing over Wifi resulted in a near flawless experience, though some servers can be relatively unstable as players constantly join and leave.

N.O.V.A. 3 isn't as revolutionary as its previous titles, featuring neither groundbreaking changes to the controls, graphics or online aspects of its gameplay, instead focusing on a better campaign and smoother online play. It's a shame more bugs weren't picked up before its release as it diminishes an otherwise solid effort from Gameloft, but if you're a returning fan of the series you can overlook these quirks to enjoy the fun FPS within.


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thicky 6 years ago

Heheh, 1.6MB. :D