It turns out N.O.V.A. Elite isn't one of the three new iOS games that Gameloft has licensed the Unreal Engine for. In fact, it's not an iOS game at all. Instead, Gameloft has decided to bring its popular science-fiction shooter franchise to Facebook as a competitive multiplayer 3D shooter tied to your social network and running on the Unity engine.
While the core style of the earlier N.O.V.A. games is still the same in N.O.V.A. Elite, it has also picked up many of the features you've probably come to expect from any free-to-play Facebook game, including friends invitations and purchasable upgrades. That's right, if you want to have all the best gear, you'll need to pull out your wallet and exchange real money for Facebook Credits. Don't worry though, they aren't required to play.
If you don't mind the free-to-play model, there's a lot to like about Elite. The pace is fast, and I found the gameplay smooth and satisfying, even on dated hardware. The graphics are adequately impressive for a browser-based game, but they are more comparable to N.O.V.A. 2 running on an iPad than a modern native PC or console game.