In our previous review, we covered N.O.V.A 3’s [$6.99] single player experience with the promise of reporting on its multiplayer after the game hit the public and the online servers filled up with players. Unfortunately, after a few days of blasting away against fellow iOS gamers, N.O.V.A.’s multiplayer hasn't quite lived up to expectations.

From a generalized standpoint, N.O.V.A. 3 appears to have everything needed for a successful multiplayer experience. There’s 12-player support across six different game types, ranging from staples like free-for-all and Team Deathmatch, to objective-based modes like Capture the Flag, to even some novel gametypes such as Freeze Tag. There’s also a wealth of customization options including a full selection of weapons, weapon upgrades, power-ups, reward streaks, and even trash-talking statements. A decent amount of custom slots also means that you can plan out a variety of different load outs once you unlock the various weapons and options.

You’ll quickly find that most of the weapons and power-ups are locked at the onset and require you to earn cash through multiplayer matches to obtain them. A leveling system serves as an additional tier, with most options only being available for purchase after reaching a certain level. This is important because while N.O.V.A. 3 gives you the opportunity of simply purchasing the multiplayer currency via IAP, you can’t necessarily buy the best guns immediately without doing your time in-game. Overall, there’s a lot of things to keep you busy while playing , but the actual multiplayer experience is where thing start to falter.

When firing up a multiplayer game, the last thing you want to deal with is lag. Unfortunately, N.O.V.A. 3’s multiplayer seems to be inundated with that exact  problem. The laggy matches lead to issues with hit detection, movement, and in severe cases straight up match disconnection. The match disconnections in particular would start a 30 second countdown in the hopes of restoring a connection, but they never did (such a tease). Probably the most frustrating thing with N.O.V.A’s lag is its random nature – some games will run perfectly while others can feel downright unplayable. Regardless, other issues like a poor respawn system didn’t help either.

I also wasn’t a fan of the way the breaks between matches were taken care of. After each match is concluded, players are dumped back into a map/mode selection screen where the host is given the opportunity to change up the settings. For me, this lead to a lot of situations where we were all just waiting around way too long for the host to select something, which inevitably lead to a mass dropping of players as we tried to find a game currently running. It really would have been nice to institute some kind of automatic voting/countdown system in order to streamline and quicken the breaks.

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom with N.O.V.A. 3’s multiplayer. In fact, if you can get into a full game with little lag or bugs, it’s really a blast to play. The level design works well for the most part, and there’s certainly enough variety in game choices to keep folks occupied. There are enough players in a full game to really experience some decent firefights, and the inclusion of mechs and jeeps add to the fun (despite some iffy integration of the vehicles). Also, I’m glad to see Gameloft continuing the evolution of Armory-based unlockables as a key to encouraging replayability.

Unfortunately, there’s just too much variability in terms of match quality to unequivocally recommend N.O.V.A. 3 based on its multiplayer. The annoying glitches and matchmaking system don’t help and the lag is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s a shame because the underlying advancement and build systems are solid with a large potential for customizability. I have no doubt that most of the concerns listed above can easily be fixed by Gameloft. However, for folks looking for a smooth multiplayer experience now, prepare to be disappointed.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Last name first!

    The framerate on the 4th Gen devices is unacceptable, even with the absurd amounts of fog they threw in. 

    • The Real Ninja

      Exactly those points made me remove it!

    • Mark

      It's surprising since MC3 looks and runs so much better. Kind of funny that gamelofts main (?) studio in france isn't as good as the one in montreal.

      I also think they should have had music playing in the background in the multiplayer like in MC3.

  • KrubKrum

    I agree with most of your points, I have had games lag up, and disconnect but what really bothers me is the huge gap between weapon unlocks, you get one new primary at level 10 or so, and the next one is level 49. That is just insane!

    Overall though, I would say that nova 3 is the best fps game I have played on iOS. The controls work well ( better on an iPad ) , all the buttons are in a good place and easy to reach, and while the multiplayer and campaign have some flaws, it's definitely a really great iOS game.

  • lr1919

    I'm playing on an iPad 3 and haven't experienced any lag in 15 or so games played, but I agree with all of the other issues you pointed out.

  • PaulLeskov

    Low FPS on iphone 4s

  • Roland1580

    Hmm, it's so interesting
    For me singleplayer's boooring - and, of course, buggy as hellBut multiplayer is great. No lags, no many bugs, good framerate (I'm playing on the new iPad) and a lot of real fun

  • Gatada

    I've only played 5 matches, but have had no disconnects. The lag I assume to be local as I'm playing on a 3GS - which doesn't really work.

    But I'm surprised to hear the 4S struggling. How bad is it - what is your approximate fps?

  • Jay

    I wonder if the problems in multiplayer are device-specific.  The article doesn't state which iOS device was used.

  • Trevin Verduzco

    Huh, I've been playing multiplayer for the whole weekend and got to level 21 without TOO many issues when it come to lag. What device were you using? I was using my ipad 2.

  • Izaya

    Completely agree

  • FlipBeef97

    Would the game be playable with an iPod Touch 4th gen with the latest firmware iOS 5.1.1?

    • Daniel Peppler

      It may be a bit laggy, and would be better on the iPad or iPhone, because they have much better processers.

  • antonio

    I´ve been playing this everyday, and did not face too much lag...i´m in Portugal btw

    • FlipBeef97

      On what iDevice? Would it run good on an iPod Touch 4th gen with the latest firmware iOS 5.1.1?

      • That1Guy

        I'm playing on a iPod touch 4g with iOS 5.0.1.
        I only experience occasional lag.

  • Broli95

    Playing on Iphone 4S iOS 5.1.1, never experienced lag

    • FlipBeef97

      Ok thanks for telling me, now I'm definitely gonna get now. The videos remind me of Halo and Crysis 2 put together.

  • Michal Weirich

    I'm very close to level 30 and although I agree with many issues that were brought up (and also agree that they all can receive hot fixes easily by gameloft) but lag isn't a huge problem for me. I've been playing on my original iPad and it seems to run it fine with an average of 2 to 1 k/d. I will admit the only problem with lag that I have encountered (only have been disconnected once) is the hitboxes. Ill have my cursor on a person in instagib (great way to make money btw) and we'll dance around each other for a good 5 seconds before someone gets killed.

  • JohnnyJ301

    Multiplayer is great on my iphone 4S, no problems here. Best multiplayer on the app store imo.

  • Mbillie420

    I'm currently level 25 and I've yet to be disconnected from or dropped from any map and had none to very little lag I don't know if my connection is that good but I do agree that after match lobby needs to be changed but most of the time I get made host without me noticing and every one waiting for match to start leaves

  • andrewp51786

    I don't understand this review at all....or at least, I don't understand how they had these results.

    I've been playing on the new iPad and my online matches haven't been laggy and haven't disconnected me or given me the 30 second countdown in the last 40-50 matches.

    I LOVE the multiplayer of NOVA 3

  • DwayneW

    I haven't experienced any lag during multiplayer matches, the single player game could be a bit smoother though, especially because Modern Combat 3 was so silky smooth in all of its modes.

  • Emmanuel Gallardo

    im playing in an ipod 4g and idont have lag in multiplayer and i dont have a very god connection so maybe the problem is the IOS version?? i have 5.0.1 oh but in campaign when the spiders appear i have a low framerate

  • jclardy

    I thought multiplayer was pretty decent. My main complaint was with the "warthog". The controls seem to be either 100% left, straight or right, so it feels like driving one of those crappy RC cars that only has 3 states.

  • Declan466

    Jetpack is OP. kills experience. All you need to know.

  • danswish

    Awesome multiplayer, not bothered with the single player, needs a better spawn system, if gameloft listen to the people and provide updates fixing these problems, this game will make history, for me this pisses all over mc3, surprised no one has said this but it is missing a chat function, would make it much better.

  • phonecats

    Guys.  Hey Guys.  I fly around with Jetpack and Rocket Lawncher.

  • Ton Nguyen

    Occasional lag.First time playing I die like 12 times with no kill whatsoever. But getting used to it.Very hard to play.Love the jetpack

  • kizi 2

    i love these game

  • DarkLordTreked

    Is this game any different from the Freedom edition. Because I'm wondering if they are not that different which on should I get?

  • kunal

    Problem with multiplayer is that disgusting controls , while some players can fly easily and some find to move even tuf on ground.improve control's

  • JoHn REy Montemayor

    HI I have a concern regarding for the nova 3 because i cant connect to online multiplayer its just keep loading for the long if i tried to connect.. thanks for the help. much appreciated

N.O.V.A. 3 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5