Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified Review
- Posted November 24th, 2012 at 12:31 EDT by Paul Kelly
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The best first-person shooter on a portable but it's not exactly a high yardstick
- Nice shooting mechanics
- Good menu and UI design
- Fun multiplayer
- Terrible A.I.
- Bland and rubbish level design
- Not enough content
Call of Duty is probably the biggest franchise in gaming at the moment, with each game selling millions of copies worldwide every year. When Sony first announced the PlayStation Vita back in January 2011 as the NGP (Next Generation Portable), Call of Duty was announced as coming to the system. The series is known for its big set pieces with lots of explosions, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Michael Bay movie, and multiplayer which can be played for hundreds of hours without much fuss. The game that we got on the Vita isn’t quite like that.
Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified is developed by Nihilistic, the studio that developed Resistance: Burning Skies for the Vita. That is a game which was more fun than good. It had an easy but short campaign and a simplistic multiplayer mode. On the single player front, Black Ops: Declassified is even more bare-bones. Instead of a usual campaign mode, it has a series of ‘operations’ which are bite-sized missions linked together by a series of cutscenes. This structure is similar to that of Unit 13 which had 30+ missions, but Black Ops: Declassified has only ten. The cutscenes don’t add up either so you can’t really get a sense of why these missions are happening or even work out a coherent story, so it's much like Modern Warfare 2 in that regard.
The operations are very short and can be finished in around 4-7 minutes on regular difficulty, meaning that the whole thing can be finished in under an hour. Of course you can increase the difficulty to veteran and that will lengthen them but will lead to much frustration. The level design is very narrow and are just shooting corridors followed by areas with very little open spaces or bombastic hollywood-esque set pieces. There are slow-mo breaches on most levels but they add very little to the experience. Another problem is the enemy AI which is, in a word, terrible. On regular, the enemies are pretty stupid and constantly shoot, even when you’re behind cover or in a different room. They often kill themselves too by shooting straight at cars right in front of them which blow up, killing themselves and nearby comrades. To be fair, that is quite funny. On veteran they become unerring shooters who can kill you very quickly. The problem has as much to do with the level design as it does with the AI because enemies appear from nowhere and instantly shoot at you. The levels don’t allow for many chances to find cover because they are very narrow and limit any chance to flank enemies.
The graphics in the levels are a bit bland. It’s hard to tell where the level is supposed to be set and each locale is indistinguishable from the next. The are no easy indicators to tell you where any given level is meant to be set and are dominated by greys and browns. Very dull.
The are two other single player modes in the game. These are hostiles and time attack. Hostiles is a survival type mode where you have to kill waves of enemies and not get killed yourself. If you manage to survive, a care package drops which can contain ammo, a new weapon or even mortar strikes or a sentry gun, all of which help in your efforts to stay alive. This is where any replay value in single player will come from since there are leaderboards and there’s always that chance to better your previous efforts. You score points for kills and the number of waves you survive and get rated out of three stars. To get the maximum three stars you have to survive up to wave 13, which also rewards you with a nice virtual gold trophy when done for the first time. Time attack mode is very similar to the assault courses which serve as tutorials in the Modern Warfare games. If you like the ones in the other MW games, then you’ll like these too.
In the tutorial/time attack level, you get to see how Call of Duty’s controls transfer to the Vita. Initially, I found the sensitivity to be too high and i was regularly missing the target. Lowering it by a couple ... (continued on next page) ----