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Sunday, September 30, 2012

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


Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance aka N.O.V.A. comprises of an elite squad of intergalactic commandos equipped with all kinds of hi-tech gear to save the earth and its survivors (of the inevitable apocalypse) against the evil Volterites and any other scum of the universe. Sounds familiar? Well, it’s clich├ęd as games go but that doesn’t stop the latest in the series N.O.V.A. 3 from being any less entertaining...

Gameloft is one of those mobile gaming companies that has tossed out a wider range of action packed games that are all encompassing in terms of entertainment and interesting gameplay. N.O.V.A. 3, a First Person Shooter again, is just as good as any that have come before and more so thanks to the upgraded graphics to suit today’s high-performance mobile and tablet devices. Please keep in mind that N.O.V.A. 3 is a large and heavy game that requires you to have at least 2GB of space available to download and install. 
Make interesting allies
Make interesting allies


Picking up where you left off from part 2, Kal Wardin, warrior elite, crash lands on a long since abandoned planet earth and is right away thrust into the thick of a raging battle between N.O.V.A. commandos and the Volterites. Things take an unexpected turn when you’re beckoned by the god-like being named Prometheus who, on behalf of the Judgers, is ready to make you pay dearly for your company stealing an artefact of great power and value that could help make the earth liveable again. Of course, the road to evil is paid with good intentions and it’s guys like Kal Wardin who are expected to make things right. 

So naturally, since you need to atone for the sins of others, and being the only mature, level headed person on the planet at the time, you’re recruited for another ‘Save the fate of the planet from imminent destruction’ mission. It’s not like you can just say no either. Your task is to recover more artifacts for these mysterious Judgers. In a puff of smoke, off you go traipsing mysteriously abandoned spaceships and planets that are used as penal colonies to recover the artifacts. You’ll meet old “friends” and form unexpected alliances in your endeavour to save the fate of mankind. 
Get up close to your targets with the sniper scope
Get up close to your targets with the sniper scope


The storyline is interesting enough and the dialogues are intense and quite amusing sometimes. The voice acting sounded a bit over the top, especially the narration between levels. Then again, the voice acting itself is quite heavy with deep voices and slow modulation. It all makes for a very “in-depth” styling but could have been toned down just a tad. 

When it comes to gameplay, N.O.V.A. 3 is well-managed. It feels like the older versions but manages to inculcate much smoother transitions and, of course, looks better on higher powered devices. We tested it on a Galaxy Nexus like we have with previous editions and on an iPhone 4. Granted, it looks gorgeous on a Retina display, but on the larger display of the Nexus, there was significant boost in control with more room for your fingers. 

The control system has also had an upgrade and manoeuvring through the landscapes and scenery is again a much easier task then before. Access to your array of arsenal (of which there’s plenty), is simple enough like the earlier versions – with a swipe to change guns –  but we feel that it could have been just a little better. Aiming through sights and scopes of the higher range weapons is brilliantly handled. 
Game stats
Game stats


A major issue with these high end games is that Android, while versatile enough for multitasking, doesn’t let you actually pick up where you left off in case you have to attend to other actions on your devices. You could pause the game to check an email or message, but returning to it from Android Currently Running Apps screen will restart the game and that’s a long process even for a dual-core device like the Galaxy Nexus. You’ll have to painstakingly waste a whole minute and change from waiting for the game to start, selecting the options and then waiting again for it load while listening to the overly husky and deep voice of the narrator reading the levels outline off the screen. It’s even more annoying when you’re almost at the end of a level after trying several times, and a call comes in. This interruption will cost you dearly. The game will restart and you’re back to square one or the last save point. 

N.O.V.A. 3 also has a multiplayer option built in where you can play with the online community or between devices. A total of 12-player battles scenes are available in 6 multiplayer modes including Capture the Point, Free-for-All and Capture the Flag on 6 different maps. Upgrades are available for purchase via your personal account or by collecting enough game credits. You can upgrade your armour or buy new weapons. You’ll pretty much have reached your peak of weapons available in-game in the first level itself, though there will be plenty of vehicles to ride and cause wanton destruction to Volterite butt. There’s not much other than that, but you won’t need too much unless you like experimenting with new ways of taking down the baddies. 
For fun with friends
For fun with friends


Verdict and Price in India
The developers have taken on a slightly darker tone in this game and with stunning visuals giving the shadow and light effects a wider range of appeal, smooth game play and slightly corny but entertaining voiceovers, N.O.V.A. 3 makes for thrill ride on your mobile device. On a tablet, it gets even better once you master the controls on the larger display.  The game is available for Rs. 387 on both iOS and Android. It was recently on sale for Rs. 50 on the Android market and if the original price is too high, Gameloft periodically has sales on its higher value games. The bottom line is that N.O.V.A. 3 is a well-made piece of mobile gaming software designed to give you hours of entertainment, provided your handset/tablet is equipped to handle it at full throttle. It's then a no holds barred Volterite Bashing!

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