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Showing a bit more ambition than its predecessors, N.O.V.A. 3 aims to be slightly more than a shameless clone of Microsoft's Halo, adding in mechs and jetpacks to the sci-fi shooter along with a bit more personality and environmental variety. It's also quite the looker, with the universal app's gloss shining through brightly, especially on the new iPad.
But like most of Gameloft's shooters, it hasn't quite nailed the solo experience. While visually impressive and certainly lengthy for an App Store adventure, the campaign frequently drags thanks to repetitive objectives and enemy encounters, plus missions that stretch on and on. Curiously, the levels also feature irritating bugs, such as botched aiming, faulty grenade buttons, and enemies stuck in walls. It looks nice, but the campaign just isn't much fun, and the bugs don't help matters.
Luckily, as with last year's Modern Combat 3, Gameloft's latest comes alive online, as the 12-player battles capture the essence of a console or PC shooter on a much smaller screen. Whether on-foot, in a mech, or manning a jeep with teammates in tow, N.O.V.A. 3's tense deathmatches and objective-based battles overcome the clumsy controls and occasional spots of lag. Multiplayer combat easily outclasses the campaign, and for $7, you'll get a whole lot of action for very little.
The bottom line. N.O.V.A. 3's campaign is a buggy bore, but excellent online multiplayer saves this slick shooter.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later
Online 12-player battles capture the feel and flow of big console and PC shooters. Looks fantastic, especially on the new iPad. Plenty to play on both solo and online sides for a $7 app.
Repetitive campaign with dull, overlong missions and a surprising array of bugs. Controls prove a bit cumbersome on the touchscreen. In-app purchases more prevalent than in past versions.