The game that really put shooters on the map on the iPhone was gameloft’s NOVA. I have always been a huge naysayer of first person shooters on iPhone, and of any game that uses on screen joysticks in general, but NOVA showed me that with enough thought and planning, it can be done. That said, how does the iPad version stack up against it’s smaller brother?
Graphically, there is no comparison between the iPhone version and iPad version. The iPad version of NOVA could easily be confused for a console shooter to the untrained eye. It really looks impressive. It is probably the best looking iPad game so far, much like the iPhone version was the best looking iPhone game.
The sound quality remains pretty much the same between the two versions. The iPad speaker is slightly louder, but the actual quality hasn’t changed. The music still sounds great, as do the sound effects.
Gameloft has made some slight tweaks to the controls to take some advantage of the iPad platform. They added the ability to swipe two fingers up the screen to throw grenades. This allows you choose the trajectory of your throws, and be a little more precise. The problem is it just doesn’t feel very natural, and taking the time to compete the motion usually leads to you just being shot a bunch more times. Some options in the controls feel tacked on just because they could. For example, having to grab a door with three fingers and slide it open – much like tacked on Wiimote gestures in Wii games – is just unnecessary, and a little uncomfortable.
They also added a pretty cool rocket launcher multiple target mode. This allows to drag a little box across the screen and target however many enemies are in that box. This does make the rocket launcher more useful, but it’s still more of a tacked on gimmick then anything else. The same can be said for the mini map feature where you can drag the map and make it huge on the screen.
The basic shooting controls in NOVA HD remain pretty much in tact from the original game. This is a major problem because the original game was designed to fit nicely on a small screen, but having everything on the huge iPad screen in the same way as the iPhone makes it a lot harder to get to the buttons you need. On a nice little iPhone everything was easily within reach, but on the iPad, it can be downright awkward trying to get to the reload and change weapon button. They have given the ability to move the buttons, and this does help, but no matter how you position everything, something is always going to be hard to get to.
In the end, NOVA is still the best shooter on the iPhone, but I think iPad version just does not stack up. I would not recommend it, unless you never played the original (or don’t own an iPhone), and really want a game to show your friends how good the visuals on your iPad are. I’ve said from the beginning that first person shooters would be a problem on the iPad, and this game did nothing to help prove me wrong. None of the new stuff really makes the game worth buying.
|iPad second opinion: Nigel Wood
Still in my opinion Gamelofts best game to date. It looks fantastic on the iPad. Control-wise it falls short of the iPhone version. While it is no doubt the best FPS control setup so far on iPad, it just doesn’t quite work. The added touch based controls such as swipe for grenades and tidying to open doors are more gimmicks than adding to the experience. I agree with Dave for the most part, only get it if you don’t have an iPhone or iPod touch.