N.O.V.A. 3--Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

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N.O.V.A. 3: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

N.O.V.A. 3--Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance 
(Developed by Gameloft)
Available for devices running Android 2.2 and up
Price: $6.99
Originally published: May

The third entry in the acclaimed N.O.V.A. first-person shooter franchise doesn't simply maintain the high standards established by the first two volumes: It sets an even higher standard, expanding the provocative storyline and enriching the series' cutting-edge gameplay and graphics.

Set four months after the events of 2010's N.O.V.A 2: The Hero Rises AgainN.O.V.A. 3 opens with hero Kal Wardin living underground following his destruction of the evil Volterites' war factory. Wardin soon receives an urgent plea from Yelena, the artificial intelligence guide built into his Mobile Armored Suit: In the wake of President Folsom's assassination, Earth's government has surrendered to the Volterite Protectorate in a desperate bid to prevent civil war--and Wardin is the only hope for the planet's future.    

The graphical advances of the first two N.O.V.A. volumes seem positively primitive compared to N.O.V.A. 3: The action leverages computing innovations like particle systems, real-time shadow/light effects and ragdoll physics to create over-the-top interstellar battles that unspool with uncannily realistic accuracy. No less impressive is the attention to detail that informs the game's 10 different gameplay levels: Settings like the frozen Volterite city are marvels of imagination and textural precision. N.O.V.A. 3 also introduces a host of new multiplayer modes and enables multiple allies to wreak havoc from inside the same vehicle. If you liked the previous N.O.V.A titles, you'll love this one--and chances are you'll start counting the days until the inevitable N.O.V.A. 4 supercharges the franchise yet again.