Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified Review

Sony’s under performing handheld has been in much need of a boost. So what better way to give it that boost, than the biggest gaming franchise on the planet today. Hopes are that Nihilistic could produce a port that would bring gamers flooding to the console and kick start something special. 

The portable version of Call Of Duty is a mixed bag, it does do some things well, but in many areas it is simply lacking and underwhelming. Rather than having a huge cinematic experience that players are used to on consoles, this version contains ten separate missions, each with a quick voice over intro, before thrusting you into the action. Players take on the role of two well known Black Ops character, either Woods or Mason, yet in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter. You could be playing as Donald Duck, or Mickey Mouse, as there is no real character or depth to the missions, in fact the story is instantly forgettable.

Each mission lasts around five to ten minutes and the action comes constantly, with each area within each level acting as more of an arena than anything. Even though the main Call of Duty games are similar in function, the smoke and mirrors effect to disguise that is a lot more effective. Here you can tell you are moving from one mini arena to the next, shooting a bunch of enemy soldiers and moving on. That’s not to say the action isn’t fun, it can be, however everything feels like it is over way too quickly. More meat is definitely needed here.

To try and pad things out each mission has three star ratings depending on difficulty, so should you really want to get more time with the game, then feel free to play through each difficulty level one by one. The problem here, is that despite being fun on an initial play, that fun factor doesn’t remain on repeated plays. There is also a time-trial mode, however that again is limited in content, giving you five areas to get through, shooting targets and basically finishing as quick as possible. A glorified training mission is what you are getting here. It is again fine for a few goes, but soon becomes tired and dull.

The only other single player mode is the equivalent of a horde mode, or zombies, as you face off against waves of enemies, trying to survive for as long as you possibly can. There are various maps on offer and like other such modes, after each wave you can pick up bonus drops that can help you with upcoming waves.  The areas here are a lot more interesting than in the main game, they are much more open and the enemies come from all corners, making it a much more challenging experience.

This is still Call Of Duty, so multiplayer is a huge factor and when it works, it works rather well. Limited to four on four, with all the usual modes available. The maps are designed well, meaning that despite having only either players per map, the action is still close and constant. There are some issues with connecting to games, but that should be fixed and patched soon. When you do get a game, there are no complaints, matches are smooth and hardly any lag is noticeable. Once again, the usual stats are there for you to see, so you can compare your performances against others.

The gameplay is a mixed bag, at times it feels like a very good port of its bigger brother, aiming is precise and you are able to pick shots like a pro. Then at other moments it feels like you are fighting the aiming, you feel you are lined up, but shots aren’t hitting or having any real affect. What would work wonders here, is Nihilistic taking a pace out of Bend’s book and adding in some gyro aiming, that is the way to make use of the Vita’s capabilities. Instead you are left with touch screen grenade throwing and melee. It just doesn’t feel right, now for an FPS, as you need to remove your hand from the right stick and at times the fire button to launch a grenade, which leaves you vulnerable to  being shot yourself. Using the rear touch as a modifier button would surely have worked better here.

It is a tough one to call with Declassified,  there is plenty of potential there, but the execution is lacking. Content feels very watered down and it appears that the wrong capabilities of the Vita have been used. It comes across as a old ideal for a handheld game, the watered down port of a full title. This could have and should have been a chance to create a special title for Sony’s machine, showcasing to other developers what can be done, instead you’re left with something that doesn’t quite live up to that.