Whether you call them clones or homages, it's fair to say that at least some of Gameloft's big smartphone releases have raised the bar in terms of what we expect from pocket-sized games. They're bold, brash, and stupid in all the right places.
N.O.V.A. 3 is exactly the same. A sci-fi shooter that takes its cues from Halo and Crysis 2, it borrows ideas and set-pieces like they're going out of style, weaving a story of alien threats and ancient artefacts that spans the galaxy.
Crysis on finite earths
Once again you take control of Kal Wardin, a man with a mission and a shiny metal suit. With the occasional help of other men in less shiny metal suits, a sexy lady AI, and the odd ex-adversary, it's your job to follow the waypoint marker in your HUD, shooting everything that moves.
You'll fight your way through the ruins of old Earth and derelict space cruisers crammed with alien technology, defend bases, stomp about in mechs, and kill hundreds upon hundreds of weird alien robot zombies.
Like its predecessors, N.O.V.A. 3 clutters the screen with more buttons than you can shake a stick at. The pace of the game and the limits of your dexterity will mean you occasionally throw a grenade when you meant to reload. This usually isn't fatal, but there are times when a failed weapon swap will lead to an untimely death.
Futuristic warrior combat
This is a game that hasn't learned from its previous mistakes and doesn't really care. Instead of trying to fix things, it's made its explosions bigger, its levels prettier, added more bells and whistles to your guns, and told you to mind your own business.
And most of the time you will. The snap-to targeting system makes battles fun, and the AI makes the enemies stupid enough to compensate for the occasionally shaky control system. There are a few missteps, including some on-rails vehicle sections that are about as unpleasant as having your teeth pulled, but more often than not N.O.V.A. 3 is everything you want it to be.
Throw in a multiplayer experience that adds even more content than its predecessor and you're left with a stunning FPS that showcases in one fell swoop how impressive, and how clunky, iOS gaming can be.