The last of the Gameloft previews from their Paris press event is the highly anticipated NOVA, a first person shooter which seems to combine quite a few gameplay elements of both the Halo and Metroid Prime game series. NOVA is set in the future, when the Earth has run out of resources and human civilization exists on what amounts to interstellar resource farms which are guarded by the Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance (or NOVA).
In the single player campaign, you play as an ex-marine named Karl Wardin living on a space colony far from Earth. You're called back in to service to report on some strange occurrences with a nearby lost ship. Needless to say, this isn't a routine reconnaissance mission and before long you will be blasting your way through a legion of angry aliens in your path throughout several different environments ranging from space ships, to underground, and even a lush jungle as seen in the hands-on video below.
The game consists of 10 levels across 5 unique environments, and along the way you will utilize an arsenal of 6 different weapons which cover all the first person shooter standards from the basic hand gun to sniper rifles, plasma guns, rocket launchers, and even grenades you can toss. There are two major boss fights in the single player campaign, one which is still a surprise and another that will pit you against a gigantic spider with secret weak spots that players must identify and shoot. The bosses are said to be absolutely massive, and a highlight of the game.
Here's a hands on video of the gameplay:
The damage system in NOVA works exactly like Halo, with an energy shield that absorbs damage then recharges over time. Metroid elements are tossed in with the addition of the special abilities you pick up along the way such as the ability to perform a melee strike, freeze enemies, or even get a brief burst of speed. Using these abilities drains your shield's power, so each of them must be used intelligently and in moderation to overcome obstacles and win battles.
NOVA was produced by the same people behind Gameloft's other recent first person shooter, Modern Combat: Sandstorm [$4.99 / Free] and while the touch controls were similar, NOVA is much more action oriented with emphasis on charging through the game and taking out enemies over finding cover and picking off bad guys from a distance. The pacing of the game is much faster, and much more intense with some monsters that will charge you and utilize special abilities such as grabbing and immobilizing you.
Like all Gameloft games, there is a great deal of effort put in to accessibility. The game not only will run across the entire iPhone and iPod touch product family, NOVA also comes with both an aim assist system and an arrow to guide you to your next objective. Both of these helper systems can be disabled if you want a more challenging gameplay experience.
NOVA isn't all about action though, there are also mini-games scattered throughout the game where you will need to solve puzzles to do things like hack computers or open hidden ammo crates. These puzzles involve moving around different mirrors and other reflectors on a grid to redirect a laser beam to hit one or more targets. This mini-game is also shown in the hands-on video.
Three difficulty modes are included, ranging from easy to difficult with the difficult mode locked by default. The single player campaign is said to be around the same length as Sandstorm, which took me 3-4 hours to complete. If you're looking for something to do following the completion of the single player mode, NOVA also will have four player online and local multiplayer over WiFi, or two player local multiplayer over bluetooth.
Multiplayer is deathmatch style, and is said to be both fast and intense with three included multiplayer arenas. Details are vague currently on how the online play is going to work, but presumably with how much emphasis Gameloft has put on Gameloft Live recently, that likely has something to do with how the online multiplayer system will work when finding and creating games.