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N.O.V.A.

PlayStation 3 (Gameloft 2010)

The big G-S-G-S-G

General opinion: Not bad, for the price
Story: At least there is one
Graphics: OK
Sound: A little lacking
Gameplay: OK

Total:

The Review

N.O.V.A. is a little sci-fi FPS originally developed for mobile phones and later ported to PlayStation 3 and PSP as a 'PlayStation Minis' title.

The plot is rather clichéd alien invasion stuff set in the future. Kal Wardin is an ex-space marine who's forcibly re-drafted to investigate a space ship with which the 'Alliance' has lost contact. The ship turns out to be taken over by aliens, which then proceed to attack the nearby planet, and naturally it's up to Wardin to stop them... But hey, at least there is some plot, and for a game of this scale it could be much worse.

There's a dozen or so stages of fair length, making for a solid 3-4 hours of gameplay, which is by no means bad for a game like this. While the stages themselves are mostly quite linear, there's a decent variety of environments. There's also a decent variety of weapons, most of which prove useful in some part of the game. There are three difficulty levels to choose from. ('Easy' was pretty easy, even for an FPS novice like me, but I still managed to die a few times.) There are also computer terminals that must be 'hacked' by solving simple puzzles, which is, in the end, rather unnecessary, but still adds a little variety.

Being designed for mobile platforms, the graphics obviously aren't particularly breathtaking, but they do the job. Overall quality could perhaps be likened to the PS1. Given the lack of detail, there's surprisingly much load time and even occasional slowdown issues, but nothing that really seriously affects playability. On the sound side the game doesn't exactly impress. Voice acting is lackluster at best, and much of the music downright boring, consisting of short, repeated loops.

The controls are fairly standard console FPS controls, but they're designed with the PSP rather than PS3 in mind. (Since the 'Minis' titles are designed to run on both platforms, this is understandable, I suppose, but would it really be very difficult to make better use of each device's features?) You move with the left analogue stick, but aiming is done with the right side buttons rather than stick. This is a little awkward and takes a little getting used to. There's a helpful (optional) automatic aiming feature, though.

Although serious FPS gamers probably have plenty of more impressive titles to pick from, for a light FPS to kill a little time, seeing as how there's still no Doom port for PS3, N.O.V.A. is not bad, especially since the price tag is only a few euros. It's definitely more up my alley than, say, Wolfenstein 3D, which is also available from the PlayStation Network Store, for around the same price.

Ben B. Bainton, 13 January 2011