Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is less of a must-buy and more of a must-avoid.
Siobhan Keogh | Wednesday, November 21 2012
Product type: Military first-person shooter
Platform: PS Vita
Test Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Nihilistic Software; Publisher: Activision
No. Just no.
I don't know whether to yawn or scream.
I've been playing this level for nearly an hour now. Just one level, over and over, doing the exact same things. Most of it I have down pat - I can kill every enemy efficiently. According to stats from previous levels, my accuracy's about 70% - could be a lot worse. But there's a timer counting down, and no matter how fast I shoot, or how quickly I run, I just can't make it to the helicopter before the base I'm in explodes.
So I go back to the very beginning of the operation and start again, even though I'd rather be subjected to hours of listening to One Direction in a dark room than keep going.
The campaign in Black Ops: Declassified is barely a campaign at all. It's a series of missions, none of which have checkpoints - very unorthadox for a Call of Duty game. Each mission is about five to ten minutes long, and most of them will only take you one playthrough. There's only about an hour and a half's worth of gameplay in the campaign. But once or twice in the game, you'll come across a really nasty level that you play it over and over. It will be so terribly boring that you're likely to eventually give up unless you're paid to finish.
Did I mention I was playing on the lowest difficulty?
It's not like the game should be hard: the AI is useless. They would often - yes, often - blow themselves up by shooting at me through a vehicle until the vehicle exploded. Even before they could have possibly seen me, soldiers would shoot at me through walls and when they had to reload I would pop out and fire a couple of bullets into them.
But there are so many enemies at any given point that working through a level in a timely manner is virtually impossible. And in one level, when I had to save some men from enemy soldiers, those men repeatedly stood up in front of the men I was shooting at, because apparently that's what people do when they hear gunfire.
Of course, there are other things you might look for in a video game - rest assured, Black Ops: Declassified has almost none of them. There's no real story to speak of, and the characters are beyond cliched. Yeah, we get it, unremarkable video game military man. You're really angry all the time and you like to swear.
Graphics could be worse - they don't look as good as the home console versions of the game, but that's to be expected. There's the occasional glitch, but nothing serious.
Let's be real though: the multiplayer is what Call of Duty fans have always loved about the franchise, and because it's on the Vita, which has a 3G option for online gaming on the go, fans of the series will be excited about the prospect of being able to feed the multiplayer addiction on the bus, or sneakily under the desk at work.
The good news is that you can do that. There's a version of Call of Duty multiplayer available for you that takes full advantage of the Vita's hardware - namely the dual thumbsticks. You can have some fun playing it. However, it's a very watered-down version of the classic game, with shrunken maps and frequent lag. That's if you can get into a game - we had issues connecting more than half the time, over two different Wi-Fi networks that otherwise seemed to be working just fine.
Black Ops: Declassified is a tragedy. It could have been so good, but Nihilistic Software was given just a few months to turn it around, and it understandably suffered. And the Vita will suffer because of it, too - a decent Call of Duty game, given the time and budget it deserved, could have been the suffering handheld's killer app.
How to choose the best tablet for you
101 great websites:
You haven't heard of yet
We ask the pros for building tips