TGC Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified

black ops declassifiedCall of Duty on the go has been a longing wish for most players of the hit franchise. While there are portable iterations, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, the DS titles and a couple of iOS and Android zombie games, none have provided the thrills that fans have come to expect.

If you are one of those people, don’t get your hopes up.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is the first attempt to get the series on to the PS Vita. It should work, it really should. We have the controls to make the game as playable as any console shooter, the graphical power to pull off the visuals but no developer to do it justice.

Nihilistic Software, now operating under the name of NStigate Games, seem to have only been in the game for the quick buck. From the moment you load up the first of the 10 short single player levels, you can tell that this is a game by an incompetent developer.

The single player campaign plays out through ten missions, no longer than ten minutes each. If you were to sit and play the game you would easily be able to beat the campaign in under an hour.

The set pieces and hollywood-like action we’re used to are gone, instead replaced by bland and generic sequences that feel tame and dumbed down.

The game plays like a Call of Duty, but it just doesn’t feel like a Call of Duty game. The aiming down the sights, snap targeting and weapons are all there, but the thing that makes Call of Duty what it is just didn’t make it to this party.

Graphically the game is sub-par to other games currently available on the PS Vita. Character models and scenery have taken a back seat whilst all efforts have been made to make the gun you hold look good. On the plus side, the frame rate is pretty stable and you will encounter minimal slow down.

Whilst Call of Duty has never been known for its ground-breaking graphics, at least not over the last few years, a better job could have been done. The PS Vita is capable of so much more and it is a crying shame to see developers who just refuse to use the power available to them.

Once you’ve finished the single-player mode, you can either go into Hostiles, multiplayer, or try to beat your previous scores in the “story.”

Hostiles plays out much like you would expect, wave after wave of enemies coming at you that you have to take out and survive. There’s not much else to it, it’s a time killer if little else. The lack of multiplayer is what really hurts Hostiles as I can see this being a brilliant 2-4 player, portable co-op game. Unfortunately that’s not what we get, maybe next time. If there’s a next time…

Multiplayer is what most people associate with the Call of Duty franchise, with the single player portion of the game being nothing more than a tacked on experience to warrant a retail release. I don’t agree with it, but that’s just how it is.

The multiplayer is where you will find the most disappointment. Small squads, smaller maps and a poor connectivity make for an experience worth forgetting. The first time you get into a game, if you can manage it, is novel and new and seems like the multiplayer we all know and cherish. After a few rounds you begin to realise that you have made a mistake with this purchase. The small maps are terrible for spawning you in front of an enemies sights, something that should have been figured during play testing, if there was a play test. The maps just aren’t big enough, even for 4v4, especially the cut down version of Nuketown, which consists of one house, a bit of garden and some road with a truck on it. That’s not enough for a family of four to live in, never mind 8 soldiers running around trying to kill each other.

I really wanted Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified to be the game we all wanted to own on the PS Vita, I really did. Unfortunately Nihilistic came up short and delivered a just about playable game that in no way warrants the outrageous retail prices. This could have been so much better and I hope that should there be another Call of Duty for the PS Vita, Activision give it to a competent developer, but also give it some extra time.

Lights out on Black Ops Declassified I’m afraid.

Graphics: Lacking the flair of other PS Vita titles, the Vita can handle so much more, why stifle it with so little? 5

Gameplay:  Shortest campaign in the history of games. Multiplayer is nothing to write home about. Hostiles is fun but could have been vastly improved with the addition of multiplayer. Value for money is the key missing factor. 3

Sound:Guns sound like guns, but they all sound the same. Voice acting is the highlight. 4

Presentation: Menus hold the nicest graphics and are easy to navigate. 7

End Score: With a retail price not far off the full console games, the experience doesn’t justify the price. Could have been so much more, should have been a hit, instead its dead on arrival.


Free copy of Black Ops 2? Competition time!

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  1. Hm, some users were actually liking this game, first real review I’ve seen yet.

    I’ll check this game out I guess later when the price goes down.

    You can’t exactly blame the developer here though. I don’t know what Sony was thinking rushing out two games by the same studio in the span of a year, most developers can barely make one game in two years.

    I mean, Nihilistic in the past had some OK games, 71/100 kinda games.

    Hopefully they have better success on iOS.

    Nice review.

    1. Its good to read an honest objective review, not subjective ones like other pro-$ony marketing-hype reviews.

  2. Poor review is poor. Negging a game for 6 points for price and content == poor review. Its definitely not dead on arrival because people are enjoying the crap out of this game. Go look on metacritic

    1. Those user reviews on metacritic are fabricated to overhype the overpriced game that no better than a $7 or $15 game on iOS or Android. Physical Buttons don’t guarantee a better game and sales, virtual buttons on tablets are fun enough..precision controls is kinda cheat too, even real weapons are not perfectly precise. $ony defenders are waaay to hard to lure people to spend $60 on a lackluster game. Spend your money smarter, get the console versions for full experience and full-blown graphics, at the same price.

    2. That’s your opinion and this review is mine. If you want to go out and spend £45/$50 for a game that has the same amount of content as an iOS or Android game, go ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    1. It doesn’t mean anything you ‘love’ is an automatic must have for others to spend their money at. Nice try, what an easy marketing type of testimony!

    2. I’m glad you’ve managed to find some enjoyment in the game. The multiplayer may be great for some people, if you can get into a game and stay in it. The poor single player offering is what ruins the game, I’ve managed to get through the story in around 45 minutes. Not exactly worthy of £45/$50

        1. If the focus was multiplayer then they should have just ditched the story and made the multiplayer a £10 downloadable game, because as it stands the game is terrible and could have done with more time and a better developer.

  3. “The game plays like a Call of Duty, but it just doesn’t feel like a
    Call of Duty game. The aiming down the sights, snap targeting and
    weapons are all there, but the thing that makes Call of Duty what it is
    just didn’t make it to this party.”

    So what’s missing? Chemical X?

  4. It’s hilarious watching the fanboys flock to these reviews to defend their purchase! A game with a campaign that lasts under an hour, no co-op and only 6 reduced size multiplayer maps does not warrant a full price release. Hell, even the Wii got near parity ports of the COD games! Black Ops on the Wii had all the online maps, weapons, 5 vs 5 multi, combat training, wager matches, co-op Zombies and the full single player campaign! But if you want to pretend it’s the best thing since sliced bread because it makes you feel good about the $50 you just spent, you go for it!

  5. We all know how bad the world economy is, so who could blame this reviewer for basing a games entire rating on price and content. Now when the game is looked through the lens of being able to play COD on the train, or at work. I think it deserves a little less pouting about spending your hard earned allowence. I think for people that are skipping out on eating to play this it’s a 4/10, and for people needing a quick COD fix it’s easily a 8/10. Chris you there? Get a real job.

    1. Your opinion is yours, mine is mine. Not everybody will agree with everything said, that’s just life. If you don’t like it, don’t waste your time reading it.

  6. I agree with Chris one price vs. content. Absolutely, and they didn’t do themselves a favor releasing this at $50 and making a few more bucks off the CoD name (while opening themselves to more scrutiny at that price level). That said, I can get into MP matches fine and have been really enjoying them, so on that level, I’m having a bit of a nostalgic Modern Warfare-style experience with the game and it’s fun to see that for the first time on the handheld and I haven’t suffered boredom yet. I think 4/10 paints the picture that the game really “plays” bad, when it’s obvious that many people are really enjoying this game as it stands. I think it’d be more fair to level off somewhere around 6/10 if you score this one based more on its limited nature and bang for the buck, though long term replayability (which plays a big part in value) is still greatly dependent on the individual consumer.

    I think the backlash is far more due to the price point than anything. That can not only be attributed to Activision but to the market status of the Vita as well. Nobody really knows how to go about marketing for this machine yet. In this day and age when nobody will buy a mobile iOS or Android game for more than $5, it’s hard to market for a console-level handheld that hasn’t exactly taken the gaming world by storm. Recouping development costs is a very real challenge, and Activision selling this for $10 or even $20 is probably unrealistic, hoping that at $50 they can “cash in” enough on CoD fans who would pay any price. The thing is, if it sells to every Vita owner, it is still not a raging success in the big picture, so ultimately what are you going to expect out of development? It’s a catch-22 if you look at it that way. They aren’t going to put in extra development costs and sell it for $50 if they are taking losses on the current product at $50. And they aren’t going to risk extreme losses selling it for $20 just to be a charitable case for the Vita. The argument then becomes this – Do Vita owners want a watered down CoD that plays fine and gives us the “essence” of that CoD multiplayer experience or do we not want a portable CoD at all?

    1. If people are finding some enjoyment in the game, I really envy them and I wish I could find it fun! The game is selling purely on brand name and it’s an unfortunate circumstance. Maybe in the future when the PS Vita is in the hands of a few more people, developers and publishers will be willing to invest a bit more time and money into making Vita games. Until then, if you can play this and have fun, go for it, I hope that some people do find it fun, I just hope that not everybody bought the game new at full price.

  7. I agree 100% with this review. People are just complaining because they wasted their money and will do anything do defend it since they are obviously in denial. There is no way this game justifies a $50 purchase. It’s sad really… because like you have said, the Vita has sooo much potential and these devs are just killing it….

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