N.O.V.A. 3: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance
Gameloft raises the bar for in-game mobile graphics. Watch out, Infinity Blade.
Last week, we spotted the trailer for Gameloft's upcoming N.O.V.A. 3 and noted how impressive the graphics were, spearheaded by the phrase "Actual Ingame Footage" in the bottom right corner of the screen. After visiting Gameloft's office and playing it for about an hour, we're happy to confirm that was in-game footage.
A quick note about those graphics: N.O.V.A. 3 is not one of the four Gameloft titles using Unreal Engine 3. It's an internal engine related to the one used for Modern Combat, but heavily evolved and refined. We played it on an iPad 2, but a Gameloft spokesperson confirmed that it will also run on an iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and possibly even an iPad 1. The representative also confirmed that there will be an Android version, but no specifics about which devices in particular. It's safe to say that if the game already looks this nice on an iPad 2, then it would look obscenely sharp on the new iPad's retina display.
Specifically, the trailer showed us a slice of N.O.V.A. 3's introduction, which finds hero Kal Wardin crashing down on Old Earth, specifically the ruins of San Francisco; residents might be amused to see that in the future, the trendy Marina District has turned into a downtown-style metropolis before getting blown apart. It's been roughly four years since the end of N.O.V.A. 2, and it seems the Human-Volterite Alliance is up to no good again, as they stir up trouble by decimating San Francisco.
The SF level starts on rails and quickly introduces you to N.O.V.A. 3's control scheme that uses the typical virtual analog sticks of other mobile shooters (there will be accelerometer support to use your device as a way to look around, but that wasn't quite working on the build we played). Players can re-arrange the screen layout, or stick to the default "use the left side for movement, use the right side to control your aim/tap the fire button to shoot" setup. Right next to the fire button is the one for iron sights, and tapping that has you snap onto a nearby enemy while aiming down those sights, much like Modern Combat. Also near the fire button are your abilities. Initially, Kal only has the Repel, which lets him shove away baddies with a Jedi-style Force Push, but he will eventually gain other abilities such as Paralyze and Time Shift. As for the rest of the controls, you just tap your weapon indicator to reload, and swipe across that same indicator to switch between your guns; your arsenal includes FPS standards like the assault rifle, pistol, sniper rifle and rocket launcher, and more exotic sci-fi fare like lightning guns, plasma guns and a rail gun. There will also be vehicles in the campaign and in multiplayer, but while we didn't get to drive around, we were told that the three rides are a mech, a jeep and a jetpack.
Besides the San Francisco opening level, we also jumped into the fifth stage that puts Kal onto a desert-filled prison planet called Boreas. One interesting detail about this level is that it has you fighting both Volterite enemies and shaggy-looking prison convicts, though on the flip side, those two forces will also fight each other. The single-player campaign will have 10 missions overall (with a variety of different planets and environments), and each one can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get through, depending on player skill and how much time gets spent gawking at the scenery; this makes single player last between five to 10 hours total.
Besides single-player, N.O.V.A. 3 will support multiplayer via Gameloft Live. We didn't get to mess with it personally, but a Gameloft representative confirmed that multiplayer will support up to 12 players per match, come with six different modes and players can tinker with their customizable character class via 15 unique perks.
A price has yet to be announced, but Gameloft says N.O.V.A. 3 will not be a "freemium" title. There might be some other in-app purchase system down the line for stuff like armor skins or weapons, but expect something more in line with N.O.V.A. 2's price point. As for when you can actually play it, Gameloft's official release date is "coming soon," so we figure a few weeks from now.
Catch up on the N.O.V.A. series.