Sequels are very in this Christmas, at least round Gameloft's way. We've seen Asphalt 6, there's Dungeon Hunter 2 to come, and N.O.V.A. 2 is the second instalment of what is, possibly, the best first person shooter Apple devices have seen to date.
The original N.O.V.A. (Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance) owed plenty to the Halo franchise, with a similar colour pallet and Spartan-like forces, but was a fine FPS in its own right. However, as good as it is, many felt that its linear and constrictive level lay-outs made it a touch claustrophobic.
Not so with the sequel. Some of the levels feature wide, expansive play areas, with much of the action outside, allowing for a more free roaming style feel, and a heck of a lot more running about during big boss battles.
There's still the finely realised cinematic elements that the N.O.V.A. franchise is rapidly becoming known for, but this time it thrusts you into the action tout suite, and gives you a taste of the new enemies in this episode from the off. Almost immediately, you're set upon by an alien with invisible cloaking abilities.
You also notice that this time, enemies throughout are more intelligent than before. They'll hide, cloak and avoid your fire with, seemingly, more free will. It's certainly tougher to pre-judge their movements.
Other new features include an expansion of the weapon set; there's a new lightning gun that we definitely can't wait to try out in more depth. And it is claimed that the levels and graphics have been "improved in every way". Each level is also longer than those in the original N.O.V.A.
The game also feels more responsive on the iPhone (tested on an iPhone 4). Pocket-lint hasn't yet seen the iPad version to directly compare, but the movement and 360 degree view controls are easier to get to grips with.
We were told that the new single-player campaign will take 4 hours to complete for an experienced player (about 8 hours for us then) and the multiplayer mode will immediately reward those who have put time and effort into the original title. At the beginning, experienced players will start multiplayer at a higher character level, and will be able to choose from a wider selection of weapons.
Up to 10 players can play simultaneously, on a variety of maps.
N.O.V.A. 2 will be out (on the App Store) before Christmas for iPhone, with the iPad version following shortly afterwards. It will cost the same as most Gameloft games - around £3.99, then.
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