Strap on your suit and get ready to rumble -- N.O.V.A. 2 is a first person shooter that will blow you and hundreds of nasties to smithereens. Gameloft's original Halo clone was the best FPS on the App Store in its day, and the sequel, N.O.V.A. 2 destroys it -- and every other iPad or iPhone/iPod Touch game of its type. Featuring better graphics, more and smarter enemies, cool special effects and gameplay options, and the best FPS multiplayer on the iOS platform, this is a game that will make you care not a whit about the near-total lack of story.
Okay, so there is a basic storyline: Kal Wardin is still locked and loaded six years after the events of the original game, and is now up against the not-so-nice Human-Alien Alliance. The Alliance has plans to take out the Terran Orbitals' government, and to wipe out the military forces of Earth. Now to commence with the blasting...
The single player portion of N.O.V.A. 2 is 12 chapters long and could take you anywhere from six to 12 hours to complete. The multiplayer, which we'll get into a bit further down, provides a ton of replay options beyond the campaign, and should keep you busy until N.O.V.A. 3 comes out. This is not an easy game. The enemies are smarter and more powerful, and when they're not ducking and rolling behind things to avoid your fire, they are appearing out of nowhere to hack at you, or are telekinetically tossing large objects at your head. There's not a lot of middle ground, either. You get hit with some of the rougher baddies right from the get go. Don't let that get you down, though -- it is entirely worth it to keep at until the bitter end.
Controls in N.O.V.A. 2 are solid onscreen buttons and a virtual D-pad, a scheme for which Gameloft has become experts. Everything is convenient to get to, easy to use, and responsive. There are new weapons and gameplay options in N.O.V.A. 2, as well. New weapons are expected in a sequel, but there are also some mini-games to help you get past locked doors and the like, as well as areas in-game where you can ride motorcycles, control a giant mech, blast away from a mounted gun on a jeep, etc. Oh, yes, you can also slow time on occasion -- nice, eh?
Gameloft has added a bit of customization into N.O.V.A. 2. On each level, you can find hidden orbs that provide you with credits to spend on upgrades for weapons, health, and more. This adds another layer to the game as a whole, but isn't quite developed enough yet to really grab you. The biggest problem here is that the upgrades are just too expensive. The likelihood of getting more than a few upgrades on a single play-through is unlikely, and the incentives are not strong enough to really encourage you to play it all through again to pick up a few more. Hopefully this is something Gameloft will address in a future update.
You can also unlock new weapons as you level up in multiplayer mode, and this is much more satisfying. Multiplayer is extremely well done in N.O.V.A. 2, providing 10 maps from the get go, as well as five different modes. The best feature, however, is that you can put up to 10 players in at once, which is just about the right number to keep things from getting ridiculous. Each map is different and can cater to people who enjoy sniping, run and gun, or up-close-and-personal battles. The set up is pretty similar to Gameloft's Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus title, as are many of the general gameplay elements of N.O.V.A. 2, but none of that takes away from the fun of this game.
N.O.V.A. 2 has some solid audio and excellent graphics -- some of the best graphics that Gameloft has put out, in fact. The textures are rich and detailed, and the screen elements are vibrant and colorful. Water effects are fantastic, and there are even some nice distortion effects for cloaked enemies thrown in there. You might even call this game pretty as you blast apart your enemies -- but I suspect you'll employ an adjective with more machismo.
N.O.V.A. 2 is a fantastic first person shooter and Gameloft has once again created the best FPS on the iOS platform. Graphics and animation are superb, there are several new gameplay elements, and the enhanced multiplayer mode will keep you coming back for more. This isn't a huge leap forward from other new-ish Gameloft FPS titles like Modern Combat 2, nor will it garner any awards for story, but you probably will be much too busy telling aliens to kiss their butts goodbye to care about any of that. Like most of Gameloft's other iOS titles, this is not a universal app, both the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch versions will run you $6.99. For what you get, though, $6.99 is worth it and then some!