Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified has been mired in controversy for quite a while now. Very little was known about the game and Sony didn’t even show us anything at E3 despite the game only being a few months away. As we got closer to the release date and started to slowly find out details about Black Ops Declassified it seemed like things went from bad to worse. Nihilistic was the studio behind Black Ops Declassified and with Resistance: Burning Skies under their belt (a game no one liked) it was worrisome that they were responsible for such an important title. Unfortunately all of our fears were realized and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is a mediocre title, at best. As a Call of Duty fan myself this game is incredibly frustrating. This should have been the “killer app” for the Vita. It should have been tied in with Black Ops 2 to give us a reason not only to buy Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified but to also purchase the PS3 version of Black Ops 2. Sadly Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is a miss on almost all counts and turns what should have been a great game into a mess.
Black Ops Declassified does have a “campaign” but it is a mess of hastily put together mini-missions. These aren’t full blown missions like you are used to with the Call of Duty franchise and there really is no cohesive story. It is just a bunch of these tiny missions thrown together allowing you to beat this “campaign” in an hour or less. The controls are decent enough and work as you think they would. The right shoulder button is fire, left is to aim down the sights and things of that nature. They did incorporate some of the Vita’s features in the controls by having you touch the screen to melee someone, put your finger over a grenade and then drag your finger across to screen to aim where it is going to land and more. Even the back of the Vita gets used as you touch the back while shooting with a sniper rifle to steady your aim. It feels like this was tacked on but the Vita’s sticks don’t “click” like the PS3 so you can’t do melee by pressing in the stick.
You also have time trial missions you can do if you so choose which should be pretty self-explanatory. There is also a “hostiles” mode which is basically like a “horde” mode. You simply battle waves of hostiles in single player challenges set in the multiplayer maps. There is also Ad Hoc multiplayer that will allow you to compete directly with those around you. It should be noted though that the experience and stats earned in Ad Hoc mode will not be transferred to your multiplayer profile.
The A.I. in Black Ops Declassified isn’t very intelligent and some parts simply look like it was reused from the Resistance game, only re-skinned for Call of Duty. There were times where the enemy AI would stand there and just look at me while other times where an enemy would magically appear behind me even though I had cleared out that area. There were a couple of times where I had to either escort someone or cover someone’s escape from a balcony with my sniper rifle. The problem here is when the AI runs in to the open field and gets killed and there is nothing you can do about it. There are also no checkpoints in this game. I know I mentioned that these are “mini-missions” but it would have been nice to have the option of a checkpoint after I complete an objective. Instead when you get killed you get sent all the way back to the beginning of the level. It can get really frustrating and I can see some people quitting in disgust as I have to go through a mission again and again. When I was able to get into a rhythm during these missions I always seemed to be bothered by a message telling me that no wireless network connection could be found. It would pause the game when it did this and totally take me out of the experience. This was complete nonsense as the network I was using was always up and running and there were a few times when I quickly went in to the PS Store on my Vita to see whether or not it had an internet connection. Of course, it did.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified also features an multiplayer mode that you can play online. Compared to its console brethren it doesn’t have many modes but it does have a few of the popular ones such as team deathmatch, kill confirmed, drop zone, team tactical and free-for-all. There are public matches and partymaking and a neat idea utilizing the Vita’s “near” app. You can use the “near” app to download new classes for Black Ops Declassified. I think this is a fantastic idea but unfortunately the game as a whole is still a mess. During my time playing online matches I didn’t have any lag (that is, when I could sign on and didn’t get that stupid wi-fi error) and it seemed to run fairly smoothly. This is by far the one bright spot in the game but it isn’t enough for me to recommend you pick this up.
Overall this game is a mess. It isn’t completely broken or anything and you can go through its “campaign” if you so choose but you shouldn’t waste your time. Call of Duty is the biggest franchise in gaming but Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is nothing but a cash grab for both Activision and Sony. It’s akin to a slap in the face that they are charging you full price too. Instead of spending the $40 on Black Ops Declassified just spend the extra $20 and get Call of Duty: Black Ops II. That is a much better title in every way. This game should have been no more than $10 or $15 on the PlayStation Store. That wouldn’t make the game any better but at least that price point would be more manageable. Overall Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified will most likely sell fairly well because it is Call of Duty. It is just too bad that instead of creating something truly special for the Vita we get a game that shouldn’t exist.
- Multiplayer works pretty well once I am able to connect.
- No cohesive story; the campaign missions are disjointed.
- The AI can be pretty dumb.
Summary: Overall Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified will most likely sell fairly well because it is Call of Duty. It is just too bad that instead of creating something truly special for the Vita we get a game that shouldn’t exist.
- Format: Vita
- Developer: Nihilistic Software
- Publisher: Activision
- Release Date: November 13, 2012