More recently, mobile gaming giant Gameloft has also entered the Facebook gaming arena. In typical Gameloft fashion, their Nova Elite is a fairly derivative but well crafted game. Using the same visual style but little of the narrative of their Halo-inspired NOVA universe, NOVA Elite is more reminiscent of the early Unreal Tournament games, and perhaps even more directly, Quake 3 Arena. Like those games, it’s a competitive first person shooter. Unlike those, it is coupled with some rather unsubtle (but effective) Facebook integration and some light RPG elements, such as leveling and purchaseable upgrades, weapons, armor and equipment. Much of this equipment has direct requirements such a having a certain number of Facebook friends playing the game, or cost Facebook points that are only obtained by purchasing them with real money. Still, there are some that may be earned simply by leveling up ones character, and in my limited experience with the game this equipment is not drastically overpowering. Player skill and reflexes outweigh the level-based and equipment-based benefits, much as they do in similarly structured games like Global Agenda.
Like many of Gameloft’s games, NOVA Elite feels slick but generic. Compared to EA2Ds DA:L, the Facebook integration feels more forced and is definitely unsubtle. Friends are for the most part a currency, and even stage select is limited to a single map until you couch up some cash. I’m not quite sick of the map yet though, as I am playing only a round or two a day (and doing surprisingly well at it!). It could be argued that a competitive FPS, the whole nature of the game is inelegant and unsubtle. As a Unity-based browser game one could argue it’s still an impressive achievement, and despite a bit of lag, which may simply reflect that it’s still a very young game, I found myself rather enjoying the experience.