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Gameloft's holiday iOS releases: NOVA 2, Asphalt 6 and Shadow Guardian

Mike Schramm
Mike Schramm|December 3, 2010 11:30 AM
Gameloft kindly allowed TUAW to sit in on a preview yesterday of the games it's planning on releasing later this year, and we got to see three new iOS titles. NOVA 2 (seen above) is the sequel to the very popular first-person shooter for iPhone. Asphalt 6: Adrenaline is the latest in Gameloft's high-quality racing series and Shadow Guardian is a brand new IP that borrows a lot from popular action/exploration games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted. After the break, you'll find descriptions of all three titles. They will be available for both iPhone and iPad sometime later on this year.

Gameloft is also releasing three more titles this year that we didn't get to see: Dungeon Hunter 2 (which is the sequel to the popular Diablo-style hack-and-slash RPG), and two games called Eternal Legacy and Space Fracture. We'll have more about those games soon, and we'll likely see them live on the App Store before long anyway.

Perhaps Gameloft's most popular title, NOVA was quite a popular game among hardcore gamers on the iPhone -- it offered Halo-style visuals and a sharp first-person shooter story campaign. Like all respectable FPS sequels, NOVA 2 plans to do what the first game did, but bigger and better. The visuals have been completely redone, says Gameloft, with better looking shadows and effects throughout the single-player campaign. The weapons are also all new -- while there are some new weapons to play with, even the old weapons have been revamped and given new abilities or powers.

There's a rocket launcher with a new lock-on feature that will target your shots instead of requiring you to line them up exactly right. Two new alien weapons are playable: one is a lightning gun that shoots for as long as you hold the button down, and another is a ray gun that simply fires a damaging ray when shot. There's also a grenade launcher, an automatic shotgun and mini mines to place as traps.

Gameloft has thrown in new powers as well -- the player can now freeze aliens in place, or use a "metadisk" weapon as a close-up instakill. There's also a slow time ability that will slow the world around you down, giving you more time to aim or escape. Vehicles are back, and players will have a bike level to drive through as well as a giant mech to control and shoot from.

Finally, there's a full multiplayer component this time around -- players can fight up to six at a time in online or local battles across five different multiplayer modes and 10 maps. Multiplayer allows you to earn XP, and there are 72 levels to progress through. And if you happen to be a NOVA player, you'll get a nice bonus upon logging into the second game.

All in all, NOVA 2 looks great -- it's not necessarily innovative when you compare it to bigger console titles like Halo and Call of Duty, but for an iOS title, it's incredibly full-featured and looked very well done.
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline

This racing game is Gameloft's latest entry in the genre, and unlike NOVA, this one will have a little more competition, with Firemint's Real Racing 2 and EA's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit also letting you race licensed supercars around. Yes, Asphalt 6 offers 42 different licensed cars, and all your favorites are here, from Porsche and Aston Martin to the McLaren F1 and the incredible Bugatti Veyron. We didn't get to actually play this demo, so it's not clear how differently the cars handle, and unfortunately, there was quite a bit of clipping and clumsy steering in the demo we saw.

But if the gameplay disappoints, the feature set on this one won't -- the game offers 12 real-world locations to race through (including Monte Carlo, Shanghai, Cuba and the Bahamas) and eight different types of events in each, from just a straight-forward race to a marathon "Beat 'Em All" Burnout-style crashing mode. There are Adrenaline power-ups to hit on the track that, when hit correctly, will style the screen in a weird negative way and give your car an extra boost of super speed. The cars can be customized with colors, decals and part upgrades, and they can even be shown off in a "garage" mode that lets you walk around them using FPS-style controls.

The Career mode has 11 legs and 55 different races to go through, and there is local multiplayer as well, with its own progression system. Gameloft definitely didn't skimp on giving you things to do in this one -- the only question is if the gameplay will be fun enough to support all of those nice extras.

Shadow Guardian

This one was the biggest surprise of the preview, though it's not all that surprising when you consider how popular games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted already are. Gameloft is entering the Prince of Persia/Assassin's Creed/Uncharted-style exploration realm with Shadow Guardian, a third-person action/adventure game that plays almost exactly like those other games. You play as Jason Cole, an adventurer who plumbs tombs and temples in Egypt and the Red Sea, trying to save the world from a terrible threat by searching for statues that give unlimited power to anyone who controls them.

Yeah, this is one of those. But again, even if the game's premise is well-traveled, the kicker here is that this is an iOS title, and Gameloft didn't skimp -- there are ledges to climb up on, puzzles to complete (we saw both the "place statues in the right slots" and "reflect the beam of light" puzzles) and baddies to fight with both a complete shooter cover system and a quick-time attack system. Everything Uncharted has is here (save, of course, for the brilliant characters and photorealistic cinematics), but it's all squeezed into an iPhone game.

Gameloft said the whole title should only take about 4 hours to get through, but there are achievements to be found as well, and each level has extra treasures to go after, too. Yes, Shadow Guardian owes a lot to console games of this type (in fact, some might call it a ripoff), but if Gameloft can recreate those experiences on iOS, I don't think players will complain.