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Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified Review

Call of Duty has finally made its much anticipated debut on the PS Vita with Black Ops Declassified and we’ve been spending some time with the title to see if it is worth the hefty $49.99 price tag which is just $10.00 less than it’s big brother Black Ops 2 on the PS3 and Xbox 360. (It is important to note that I downloaded patch 1.01 for the game prior to playing it)

Back when the trailer for Black Ops Declassified was revealed, the gaming community was not really too impressed with the game’s visuals. Well rest assured that the game looks much better in person than what we saw in those trailers. It’s nothing to write home about as the Call of Duty franchise is not really known for its graphics, but it is still a fairly decent looking game.

call of duty black ops declassified vita

Black Ops Declassified has four main modes, but we’ll start with the Campaign Mode.  Under Campaign you’ll find Operations and Time Trial.  Operations is basically your single player and consists of 10 missions,  9 of which have to be unlocked, simulating some sort of progression. The missions are really, REALLY short and some can be completed in 2 minutes.  I know that you’re thinking that the last sentence might be a typo, but it’s not…. 2 minutes! To make things worse, they’re very loosely tied together with the weakest narrative I’ve ever seen in a game in my 20 years of gaming.  I think that Super Mario is sitting in a corner doubling up on anti-depressants after losing its title of weakest narrative to Black Ops Declassified.  One could argue that  Nihilistic was going for the “pick-up-and-play” approach that would be suited for portable gaming, but even on that scale they botched it.

The enemies you encounter in the 10 missions under Operations are simply atrocious. They will stand there behind a wall and fire round after round at it when all they have to do is move two steps  in any direction to get you in their line of fire.  This is not something that is common for all the enemies you encounter in the game,  but it happens often enough to be a noticeable flaw. When you think about the bigger picture you begin to question how, in missions lasting only between 2 to 4 minutes each, can you afford not to have competent AI? It’s not as if the game is pushing some sort of boundaries in other departments such as graphics or anything taxing like that.

Time Trial on the other hand is just shooting practice that takes place across five different  maps with stationary and moving targets. Technically speaking, if it wasn’t for loading time in between the missions, you could complete the entire time trial in 7 minutes tops.  The really good thing is that both Operations and Time Trial have Leaderboards which does add a bit of replay value, but that’s really about it.

The second main mode in Declassified is Hostiles, which is basically a horde mode where you fight wave after wave of enemies across all five multiplayer maps in the game until they kill you. It’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the multiplayer maps before heading out online. Hostiles also comes with a Leaderboard, and to be honest I find it a lot more fun than both Operations and Time Trials.

Declassified NukeHouse

A shot of NukeHouse

Multiplayer Mode is why I think a lot of people will buy this game, and it will also be the reason why those who buy it won’t regret it too much.  As stated above, there are five maps for the multiplayer which are: Intel, Range, Containers, NukeHouse, and Shattered.  Right off the bat, you’re going to have issues getting in a match as the game has so many bugs.  Be ready for a lot of loading screens as the game would act as if it’s taking you to a match session, only to take you right back to the menu again.  And please be expectant of the game kicking you back out to the menu halfway through a match. I’ve experienced this at least 20 times now.

But with all that said, when the game works like it’s supposed to, then Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified becomes the best multiplayer shooter game on the PS Vita. The community is surprisingly healthy as you’ll find a match at any time of the day, the pacing is fast, the shooting is rewarding and the maps are well suited for the 4 vs 4 gameplay, although NukeHouse will feel a bit claustrophobic at first.  You have the ability to create your own Classes and have plenty of different weapons, upgrades, and perks to choose from.  You can also create your own party/clan and get online and kick some ass.

It’s a real shame that such a big game coming from a hugely popular franchise wasted such an opportunity to lead the way and cement their place on the PS Vita the way only they could.  For every positive you’ll find in Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, there’s something equally bad or worse.  You would think that with a game so well known for its multiplayer, that there would be more of an emphasis on the multiplayer working well; but sadly the multiplayer is a game of hit and miss. Yes Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed are fun, but a quarter of the time you’re spawning in the middle of a fire fight or right next to an enemy turret.  I don’t think that I was ever able to go  battle online for more than an hour without the game either crashing, or booting me back to the Main Menu halfway though a game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is arguably the best multiplayer shooter on the PS Vita, but by no means is it worth the asking price of $49.99 plus taxes.  The Single Player is joke, and the game is riddled with bugs that can make for a very frustrating experience, but when it does work it becomes obvious why there are so many people online playing it.  If you’ve been wanting a PS Vita and you really want to try this game, then I would strongly suggest that you pick up Call of Duty PS Vita Bundle that comes with a 4 GB memory card and avoid paying for this game.  The PS Vita has better and more polished games for Free on PlayStation Plus, so treat yourself.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified gets a 3.5/10, and that’s being generous…


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