Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified PS Vita review
Developer Nihilistic (who also made the vastly superior Resistance: Burning Skies) has attempted to cushion the sledgehammer to your change purse by throwing in time trials and Hostiles modes. Trigger happy option one has you pelting about small target ranges swiss-cheesing cardboard cutouts (think COD 4’s training mission), while Hostiles sees you ploughing through endless goons in simple wave-based levels. Again, these are minuscule interludes, with both only offering a paltry five stages. The definition of ‘slapdash’ has just been rewritten in front of my very peepers.
Mercifully, a par for the COD course multiplayer stops Declassified from becoming a total motorway pile-up. While the action obviously can’t hope to match the scope of Black Ops II, matchmaking over the few modes on offer is impressively speedy. You can forget about the PS3 title’s fancy new Hardpoint and Multi-team additions, though. Here you’re limited to Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed (collect dog tags from bodies to earn points for mercing someone) and Drop Zone (defend bases).
Everything works well enough. During my time online, lag was happily absent like kebabs buffets at fat camp and I rarely waited more than thirty seconds to find a match. Yet at the same time the action feels bitty because of the eight player cap. Four-on-four deathmatches can’t hope to match the frantic scope of a 16 man game of Domination on Black Ops II.
At least maps have been shrunk down to accommodate the smaller games. The likes of Nuketown and Range play out on claustrophobic arenas, which stop matches feeling more deserted than a Tuesday morning car boot sale in Auchterarder. The former’s slice of 50s Americana is a particularly strong addition… even if it does remind me of Indy hiding in an indestructible, nuke-proof fridge more than I’d like.
On a conceptual level (stay with me), Declassified is what a Vita shooter should aim to be. Focusing on delivering easily digestible nuggets of gameplay is precisely what should define a good handheld title. I’d much rather absorb something that’s a bespoke creation made specifically for Vita with the system’s portably sensibilities in mind than endure a watered-down PS3 port that’s been royally phoned in.
The trouble is there’s simply not enough content here to justify the premium price tag Activision always slaps on new COD titles. You’ll struggle to find Declassified in shops for much less than £40. And when your game is a glorified budget title dressed up in a crooked banker’s three piece suit, it’s impossible to view Vita’s first Call Of Duty as anything other than a colossus rip-off.
A cynical grab for gullible gamer Christmas cash made to coincide with Vita’s first festive period, this COD shouldn’t just be declassified; it should be erased from existence.