If you haven’t heard of Gameloft, they’re a game company that makes a lot of iPhone games. These games, generally, are pretty much ripoffs of popular console titles. “Ripoff” sounds like a bad thing, but when they’re done right it can bring a console experience that you’ll otherwise never have to your mobile platform. For instance, NOVA 2.

NOVA 2 is Halo, pure and simple. There is very little effort to disguise this fact, from the trailer of an armor clad hero leaping from orbit and landing onto the world below, to the AI female giving you directions, to the myriad of aliens who look and fight a whole lot like the Covenant. That being said, the game is well put together and maintains a lot of the good aspects of Halo while changing it up just enough to still feel fresh (and avoid getting sued).

The controls for NOVA 2 are well implemented. It’s always a challenge to bring FPS gameplay to the touch screen, but Gameloft seems to have perfected it. A virtual left thumbstick is used to move, while your right thumb aims and fires with a tap. There’s a jump button, as well as weapon swapping/reloading, and even grenades as well. The UI manages to include all of this without it feeling too cramped on the screen, definitely a feat in itself. Barring a few odd instances, the games controls stay out of the way and let me play; as any good control system should.

The graphics in NOVA 2 are well done, with detailed characters and textures. The environments are creative and varied, and the level design and layout work well. There will be a few moments in a level where you stop and think you’ve played this before, and you probably have; there are some distinct moments I remember from playing Halo, but they’re some of the best, so it’s ok. The game does bring a lot of fresh ideas to the table as well, such as a mech sequence where you get to tear through waves of enemies in a giant walking machine of destruction.

One other aspect of NOVA is the online multiplayer. This adds a lot of replay value to the title, and it’s really well done. On my home wifi (don’t know that I’d try this over 3G yet), I was able to hop online, find a match, and join without any difficulty. Once I was in, there was very little lag on a Lockout-style map. Eight people were in the game, all shooting at each other, and it kept up just fine. NOVA 2 is Definitely one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve had on the iOS in a while.

In the end, NOVA 2 is a solid shooter that pulls from the classics, but still has a flavor of its own. The game is long, and with multiplayer in the mix, there’s a huge replay value here. The graphics are great, the controls tight; and most importantly, the game is just fun to play. It’s one of the more expensive games in the App Store at $6.99, but Gameloft has made it worth every penny. If you haven’t tried this game, and you’re a fan of the Halo series (or any other space combat game), you should really try it out.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Solid graphics and gameplay
+ Fun and well-implemented multiplayer.

– More or less a straight port of Halo.