Normally, I prefer to do Games4Mac posts as videos, primarily because you can see some real gameplay for yourself and get a better idea of what the graphics are like. Unfortunately, after watching some of the footage I took of this game, it just seemed to laggy to make a decent video, so you’ll just have to take my word from writing and pictures.
One of my favorite first-person shooters (FPS) has to be Halo. I won’t deny it one bit, but I love playing Halo (at least the ones Bungie made, but I won’t judge any future versions of Halo until I see them). That’s also why one of my first Games4Mac posts was the Halo CE demo. The sad part about the demo, as I found out when getting ready for Lion, is that it is a PowerPC app. This means that it won’t run on any Mac that runs OSX Lion or later. I still love playing shooters though, and I had some money left over on my iTunes card after buying Lion, so I went searching through the Mac App Store. Sure there was Call of Duty, and Bioshock, and a bunch of other big name games, and most of them are really great games. But I wanted to try something different, so I bought a copy of N.O.V.A. 2 from the Mac App Store.
N.O.V.A 2 (which is short for Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance) is the sequel to the hit iOS game N.O.V.A., and takes place 6 years after the events of the original game. For the record, I haven’t played the original, so I’m learning as I go along through the game.
You play as Kal Warden, a soldier of the Near Earth Orbital Vanguard, who has come back into the line of duty in order to fight the new Alliance, a Human-Volterite (the aliens) government that promises utopia via advanced technology. SPOILER: They really don’t want that utopia. Overall, a lot of the aspects of the game are a lot like Halo, which is reportedly their inspiration; you play a strong but snarky hero, you have a helpful female AI in you suit, you have to deal with a giant, ancient doomsday weapon. Get the picture?
You have a wide variety of guns from pistols, to rocket launchers, lasers, and more, which you carry with you at all times. This seems a little bit old hat now compared to the current 2 or 3 gun model most shooters have, requiring you to pick your weapons wisely. It doesn’t detract from the game’s overall play value though. The game also has a variety of terrains to play from including jungle, city streets, snowy mountains, and more. You can go from running across a terrain, to falling from the sky, and riding a hoverbike through the city streets. Vehicles rides are scripted and on the rails (meaning you don’t completely control where you drive), but all the vehicles are in first person, which I like if the game is trying to maintain some level of immersion. The cutscenes, however, do seem a little over animated and detract somewhat from the immersion of the game. They make up for it by helping push the story further and making it more interesting.
The game is pretty fun to play and plays fairly smooth on my 13 inch Macbook Pro (4 gigs of RAM, 2.26 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo). I did notice a noticeable freeze when the game approaches a save point or before a cutscene, which is something I expect from older shooter.
Furthermore, the graphics seem rather blocky for running on a modern system, especially comparing what we see in the title screen and animation. To be fair though, this game was originally an iOS game, which means the expectations for graphics are a little lower compared to PC or console gaming. While it isn’t hard to notice, I can’t say that it hurts the gameplay value.
And if you get tired of playing through the campaign, there’s always multiplayer. You can play either locally with people on your network, or with other people online. In order to play online, you have to create a free Gameloft account. However, that means you get to play online for other Gameloft games, like Starfront: Collision, Modern Combat: Domination, and more. The online community is rather small, and is very fast paced on relatively small levels.
Overall, it does seem a little dated in terms of features and graphics, but is nonetheless a fun shooter alternative at a relatively cheap price. N.O.V.A. 2 is available in the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store for $6.99 and runs on iOS 3.1.3 or higher, or Mac OSX 10.6.6 or higher. However, Mac users should take note that the game is currently not supported for Intel integrated graphics or ATI Radeon graphics.