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Video Game / Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

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Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance aka N.O.V.A is a game trilogy developed by IOS mass-produced game clone maker Gameloft. It was developed as a clone of Halo, with some elements in the first game taken from The Conduit. N.O.V.A was released in 2008 for only IOS platforms, but the sequel NOVA 2 The Hero Rises Again was ported over to PC and Mac. The third game, N.O.V.A 3, was released on IOS and the new Apple TV. Due to it being designed primarily for mobile devices, the games felt linear in progression, with one thumb-driven "stick" control determining movement and strafing, another thumb-driven control for firing or grenade deployment, while the device's accelerometer was used to look around. Therefore, even level progression was straightforward and linear, and many other FPS physics such as crouching, vaulting over obstacles, taking cover etc were ignored. Sprinting and jumping was available, but were uncomfortable to use, requiring the user to stretch his thumbs to activate them. The games occasionally provided platforming challenges, which were unforgiving. Saving could only be done automatically by "saving" checkpoints. The second game featured in-game currency and extra weapons that could be looted, while the third game had micro transactions.

In the future, humanity has polluted Earth to the point of uninhabitability, forcing humanity to completely relocate to extrasolar colonies, consisting mostly of organic environments maintained on low orbit space stations known as Near Orbitals. These colonies are governed by a body known as the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. NOVA maintains a military including space fleets and Space Marines in Powered Armor. You play as Captain Kal Wardin, a former spec ops marine who starts off the trilogy enjoying his recent discharge into civilian life. In the first game, two other marines in power armor show up to kidnap and shanghai Wardin back into active duty. He is given his own power armor suit, weapons and a tactical AI assistant called Yelena. Kal is then tasked with investigating the massacre of marines onboard the Colonial Pride, a troop transport. Kal finds the ship overrun by various kinds of strange aliens. The aliens themselves seem like mindless Dumb Muscle, but something or someone appears to be directing them. After being forced to Self Destruct the ship, Kal finds that these aliens are besieging a marine base on a nearby colony. After relieving that siege, Kal is sent on the offensive, to neutralize a manufacturing facility on an ice planet, before the aliens repurpose it to use it as a springboard to launch attacks on all colonies. At this time, Kal is contacted by Prometheus, a mysterious AI that informs him of the existence of another sister ship that was traveling with the Colonial Pride and that the NOVA government covered up what happened to it. Prometheus warns Kal to not trust what the government is telling him. Consequently, after the aliens are driven from the manufacturing facility, a NOVA general orders him to get to an extraction zone. However, his "extractors" are actually a hit squad sent to take him out. Yelena is terminated, but Prometheus whisks Kal away to a strange asteroid based citadel, which is apparently the point of origin of the invasion. Over here, Kal must find out the truth behind these aliens' motivations and find a way to stop the invasion completely.

The second game sees Kal brought out of hiding six years later when the village that sheltered him all this time is attacked by rogue NOVA marines and a new alien race called Volterites. After destroying the invaders' main weapons production facility, Kal finds out that the invaders are looking to seize an extremely powerful artifact belonging to the Judges, a race of ancient aliens Kal encountered in the previous game. Although Kal manages to secure the artifact and protect it against seizure by the invaders, they go to his village and massacre everyone there. An enraged Kal heads to a newly constructed city to confront the invasion's leadership - and ends up in the fight of his life.

In the third game, the Volterites launch an all out invasion.

Tropes found here are

  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Volterites play this straight. Even Maz'rah who is part of La Résistance against the oppression of the Overseer is a Manipulative Bastard.
  • All Crimes Are Equal / Disproportionate Retribution : Apparently, the Judgers have only one punishment for all crimes - death and genocide.
  • Badass Normal: Kal was just a marine officer chosen to be a Sacrificial Lion, but despite being nobody special in powers or character he ends up helping save the galaxy time and again
  • Bash Brothers: Kal and Rufus in the third game.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The final four battles fought by Kal in the second game are revealed to be this. The Overseer is trying to force you to keep fighting "enemies" he generates, until you give up.
  • Benevolent Precursors / Neglectful Precursors : The Judgers zigzag both these tropes. While they do have a moral code that is on the good side, and generally have everyone's best interests at heart, they left behind an automated defense system that mistook a crash for an invasion and would have wiped out humanity, had Kal not destroyed it and woken them up from hibernation.
  • The Berserker: Volterites Berserkers are heavily armored troops that like to rush you, then melee you up close. Unless you have a shotgun, sniper rifle or rocket launcher, you are guaranteed to take at least one melee hit from them, as your assault rifle weapons won't be able to take them out fast enough.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Human President and the Volterite Overseer in the second game.
  • Boom, Headshot! / Your Head Asplode : How Kal kills the President and the Overseer to end the second game.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The third game was particularly bad with this.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Kal and Rufus hijack two mechs to fight their way out of a junkyard. While battling enemy mechs and assorted monks, Kal and Rufus banter back and forth about past girlfriends!
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: The Judgers' automated command core that you fight at the end of the first game.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Heavy Demons in the first game, Berserkers and Rocket troopers in the second and third games to a lower extent. The Centaur and enlarged Cybertooth you fight as the penultimate and final boss battles in the second game take the sponginess up to eleven.
  • Defector from Decadence: Maz'rah was a Volterites Psycher who turned against the oppressive policies of the Overseer.
  • Dual Wielding: If Kal is completely out of ammo for all his rifles and shotguns, he switches to pistols in each arm. Although they have unlimited ammo, their effectiveness is limited to point blank range.
  • Energy Weapon: Volterites weapons generally are these. You can scrounge some and use them.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Kal looks to be going into a Heroic BSoD when Yelena is killed, but Rufus yells at him to focus.
    Rufus: "Kal, STAY MILITARY!"
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Kal does this during a section in the second and third game.
  • Guide Dang It!: Three of the bosses in the second game, and the final boss in the third game require rather unusual and non-intuitive things to be done to defeat them.
    • The large Cybertooth is a Lightning Bruiser that has lots of health, which either jumps onto you or swats you with its paw, inflicting lots of damage. You could normally take this kind of boss down by keeping your distance and inflicting Death by a Thousand Cuts, but your map in this case consists of a few narrow walkways, leaving you no room to dodge its jump attacks. The only way to win is to leap onto a very narrow ledge that doesn't look like it can hold you, but it barely does. This neutralizes the Cyberttoth's jump attack, allowing you to dodge its paw swipes. As long as you don't misjudge your momentum and walk off that ledge, you can whittle the Cybertooth down with all your weapons.
    • The Centaur fight is even more counterintuitive. The first time it appears, you do have room to maneuver and whittle it down, but Prometheus' voice tells you to duck into a Judger portal just before you can finish off the Centaur. Most players will be tempted to kill the Centaur before escaping through the portal, but doing so, reveals that the Overseer has taken complete control of your mind, and a Non-Standard Game Over. If you duck into a portal instead, "Prometheus" reveals himself to have been your own mind finding a way to fight off the Overseer's Mind Rape attempt. You navigate a maze instead.
    • The second Centaur fight gives you a Nigh-Invulnerable enemy. You have to kill it by tossing a mine out a window, luring the Centaur to that window and detonating the mine. This makes the Centaur vulnerable to one type of weapon only. Use only that kind of weapon to take it down, then you have some time before the Nigh-Invulnerable Centaur respawns. You have to lure it close to a mine again, detonate it to trigger a different vulnerability, and in that process, blow all your windows. This breaks you free of the Overseer's mental attack, after which Kal kills him.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Maz'rah. Briefly.
  • Flash Step: Psychers can do this.
  • Hacking Mini Game: The first game gives you Light and Mirrors Puzzle games to unlock ammo crates. In the Judgers' citadel, you get align the dots puzzles instead. The second game gives you a form of pinball like mini game to unlock ammo, weapons and shield buffs. The third game does away with this, replacing it with micro transactions.
  • Hold the Line: In the first game, there are multiple sections where you must hold out against an onslaught of Judger troops pouring in from a portal. In some sections, you are given a mounted machine gun. Other times, you must destroy the crystals powering the portal to shut it down and stop the onslaught.
    • In the second game, there are two sections where you must hold position against an onslaught by deploying a limited number of gun turrets. The turrets don't do much damage, but they do whittle down enemy health, allowing you to expend less ammo in defeating the onslaught.
  • Humans Are Bastards: This game drives that point home over and over. Whether it is the perfidious NOVA leaders in the first, the traitors who make an alliance with Volterites and massacre anyone who opposes them, or even the desperate NOVA military in the third game who steal a Judger terraforming artifact, this series loves this trope.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Yelena dies. Also, how Maz'rah and the Overseer off each other.
  • Jump Jet Pack: Kal sees some enemy human troops using these in the second game, and says they are walking death traps, as one lucky shot will set of their fuel tanks. Kal consequently uses this very tactic to kill them. The third game forces Kal to use one to navigate a platforming section.
  • Killed Off for Real: Yelena is "killed" i.e. deactivated in the first game before Prometheus whisks Kal away to the Judgers' citadel. However, the Judgers resurrect her for you. In the third game, she gets an android body, which is killed by the Kharaak. This time, Yelena is killed off for good.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Maz'rah was manipulating Kal all along to lead shim to either a hairy situation that should have killed him, or to the Kharaak to be killed off.
  • Mind Rape: What happens to Kal as a Non-Standard Game Over in the second game's penultimate boss fight. Unless he ignores a fight and escapes into a portal.
  • Mutual Kill: Maz'rah and the Overseer mutually stab each other to end the entire trilogy.
  • Powered Armor: Worn by Kal, all human troops friendly and hostile, and all Volterites.
  • President Evil: The human half of the corrupt Human Volterites Alliance has "president" as his title.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After a Heel Realization, Maz'rah kills the Overseer, but dies in the process.
  • The Reveal: As he dies, the Overseer reveals in the third game, that a different faction of Judgers, were the wire pullers behind the whole Human Volterite war.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kal gets on his "crotch rocket" motorcycle and uses its mounted twin blaster cannons to inflict this on fleeing enemies, after they massacre everyone in the village he was living in.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The shotguns in this game will one shot most enemies except large damage sponges such as mechs and final bosses.
  • Sniper Rifle: Dropped in occasional levels, and they have very limited ammo, so Kal cannot carry them with him at all times and comfortably shoot everyone at range.
  • Space Marine: Kal Wardin fits the trope quite well.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Psychers do this to annoying effect. Maz'rah does this too, in the third game.
  • Teleport Spam: The Judger Heavy Demons do this.
  • The Unfought: Both the human president and Volterites Overseer who are the dual big bads of the second game are never directly fought. When you encounter them, you kill them easily in a cutscene. The final boss Overseer in the third game is also killed in a cutscene.
  • War Is Hell: Kal exclaims this at the third game's end.