Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified – Review (Vita)

CODDeclassifiedMain

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is a divisive beast. Depending on which review you read scores can range from extremely low to extremely positive.

I would like to start this review by saying that Declassified does not capture much of the Call Of Duty experience. This is more like an upgrade of Nihilistic’s last Vita FPS ‘Resistance: Burning Skies‘. Not necessarily a bad thing but if you’re expecting a Call Of Duty game on your Vita this isn’t it.

I was in the minority that actually quite enjoyed Burning Skies, it certainly had some issues but on the whole I enjoyed it. From what I can gather Nihilistic finished that in May and then cranked out Declassified in about 4 months.

That appears to stem from problems with the company previously handling the port who, it sounds like, were trying to cram Black Ops II from the PS3 onto the Vita.

CODDeclassified1

If Nihilistic did indeed have less than 6 months to turn this around then surely no-one can be surprised to know it appears to be based on the Resistance code with a few minor upgrades.

The main difference here is that there is no story mode to further the overall Call Of Duty experience. The single player game is one of frustrating, one life levels and time trials. Levels in which you have no checkpoints and only one life can serve to heighten tension (see Unit 13 for a good example) but these should be scattered through the game – not used on every level.

While some of the campaign was enjoyable the overall feeling was one of stress and not in a good way. I wouldn’t say avoid playing it but be prepared to face some tough and often unfair deaths. Alongside the campaign are time trial and survival modes which, while not spectacular, will give you some further challenge.

CODDeclassified2

Graphically it’s not great. There isn’t really much I can say in this respect, it’s passable but not one of the Vita’s better looking games. The AI is also a bit erratic – enemies will just as often blow themselves up as hunt you down ruthlessly.

Where Declassified saves itself is with it’s online offering. Patches make this a different experience to what was originally reviewed elsewhere at the time of release. Stability is much improved – you do still get kicked to the main menu on occasion but it is a lot less than previously.

The main downside is that because the maps are smaller (to accommodate the 4v4 player cap) you’ll often find you spawn only to be killed straight away. To be honest though that is something I regularly encounter in the PS3 versions of the game as well so perhaps it won’t bother regular COD players as much.

CODDeclassified3

There is a fairly fleshed out perk, weapon upgrade and killstreak system which allows you to unlock new stuff as you progess. Most of these seem nicely balanced and players seems to be using a variety of different set ups – always a good sign that the game is well balanced.

A nice touch that uses the Vita’s technology is that you can upload your loadouts to Near for friends/players close by to download. And you can use these regardless of whether you’ve unlocked the weapons/perks yourself. It’s a pretty cool feature that I’d like more games to adopt.

I’ve had a few rounds online that have genuinely rivalled some of the experiences I’ve had on PS3 in terms of excitement and tension and that is a big positive for me.

CODDeclassified4

Certainly it fills me with hope that if someone can step up to the plate and deliver a great looking, great playing FPS for the Vita some brilliant experiences could be on the horizon. Could Killzone Mercenary be that game? I hope so but that’s a debate for another time.

So, Declassified is a tough one to rate. The single player experience is frustrating and doesn’t add much story-wise but is enjoyable in places. Counter to that I had a great time with the online, despite a few technical issues. I’d say try it – if you like the way the game handles (or enjoyed Resistance Burning Skies) then you’ll have a good experience with it but if you dislike how the engine plays then avoid.

Rating: 6/10

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Most Wanted 2012

Following on from a fairly muted E3, that only held a few unknown announcements, I thought it’d be worth updated the games I’m keeping an eye on.

The list is pretty large so I’ll start with the ones I’m most excited for:

.

1) WATCH DOGS – Release Date TBC

This one blew me away at E3 and was easily the most impressive thing I saw. Just watch the video and this one will explain for itself. Hopefully it’ll look that good and deliver that immersive an experience when the game arrives.

.

2) BORDERLANDS 2 – September 2012

The first Borderlands was a great game, which delivered so much more than was expected of it. (Seriously it’s cheap now so check it out!) The sequel looks set to live up to and maybe even exceed what came before – guns galore and exquisite cell shaded graphics combine for a brilliant experience. And it’s 4 player co-op! πŸ™‚

.

3) BEYOND – TBC

Heavy Rain was one of my favourite games this generation, so anything new from developer Quantic Dream is always welcome. After showing us a tech demo called ‘Kara‘ earlier this year, Quantic blew the lid off Beyond at E3 – revealing the casting of Ellen Page and showing off the above trailer. Definitely one to watch.

.

4) GRAND THEFT AUTO V – TBC

It’s a new Grand Theft Auto – what more do I need to say? πŸ˜† Looks amazing and you can always count on Rockstar to deliver something special. Expect the hype train to begin very shortly.

.

5) BIOSHOCK INFINITE – February 2013

This made the last list I did and has now, unfortunately, been pushed back to 2013 so here it is again. The prequel to the original Bioshock title sees you out of the water and up in the sky – check out the footage above to refresh your memory.

.

6) THE LAST OF US – 2013

The Last Of Us is the next game from developer Naughty Dog, whose Uncharted franchise has gone from strength to strength. Telling the story of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of global pandemic that have teamed up, this looks like it could be something totally different. A game with a change of pace is always nice and this one looks gritty to boot.

.

7) RETRO CITY RAMPAGE (VITA) – Imminent!

Oh yes! πŸ™‚ Can you feel the force of a new title based around all your old favourite 8 Bit titles? There are even nods to newer games thrown in. This looks so good and a perfect fit to the Vita’s pick up and play type gaming. Believe it or not this is the work of ONE MAN! Brian Provinciano take a bow… and then get straight back to work on finishing the game πŸ˜†

.

8) HITMAN ABSOLUTION – November 2012

I still can’t believe we haven’t had any sort of Hitman title on the PS3 so far! This looks like it could be fantastic. IO have been shaky in the last few years with the Kane and Lynch franchise but hopefully this will be a return to form.

.

9) KILLZONE (VITA) – TBC

I love the Killzone universe and having seen the initial potential of a FPS on the Vita with Resistance Burning Skies, I’m hopeful we’ll get a great handheld version of the franchise. We’ve barely seen anything (see above) but I still can’t wait for this. And this time we play as the Helghast… right Studio Cambridge? RIGHT? πŸ˜‰

.

10) ASSASSIN’S CREED III – October 2012

Ezio Auditore has finally taken a bow and Assassin’s Creed heads to a new time period in the third fully fledged game in the series. This time you’re slap bang in the middle of the War of Independence between the US and England. This looks absolutely stunning and the change in main character/setting adds to the excitement.

.

11) DISHONORED – October 2012

Steampunk is on the agenda for Dishonored – set in an alternative universe in which steam powered machinery is the norm, the game sees you fighting to clear your name by taking on (and killing) various powerful political figures. It’s all in the first person and the time manipulation mechanic (among others) looks really interesting.

.

12) DEAD SPACE 3 – February 2013

I’m still a touch concerned that co-op play may ruin the atmosphere that the Dead Space series has crafted but I’m willing to give it a chance based on how good the last two games were. This time Isaac is tackling theΒ frozen planet Tau Volantis, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with some more open environments.

.

13) SPLINTER CELL: BLACKLIST – 2013

The last few Splinter Cell games have skipped the PS3 so it’s nice to see Sam Fisher returning to our screens. 3rd Echelon have been disbanded by order of the President. Never fear though, Sam’s set up 4th Echelon in secret πŸ˜† so the adventures can continue. Looks really cool and will be interested to see more on this one.

.

14) RESIDENT EVIL 6 – OCTOBER 2012

A lot of people didn’t but I actually enjoyed Resident Evil 5. Sure it wasn’t the best game in the series but it was still decent enough to play through and I liked the different setting. 6 goes back to Resi’s roots a bit and features several stories that cross over. This could be a dark horse for Game Of The Year if they get it right.

.

15) ASSASSIN’S CREED: LIBERATION (VITA) – October 2012

Yes it’s *another* Assassin’s Creed game but but there are some differences here – firstly a female lead character (and a realistic, non sexualised one at that 😯 ), secondly a new time period to mess around in and finally the game looks like it’s taking full advantage of the Vita’s power to provide an open world experience on the go. Great stuff.

——————————————————————————————————————

So those are my ‘most’ Most Wanted πŸ™‚ But there are still a whole host of other games on the horizon that are worth checking out – here are some more that it’s worth looking out for this year and next:

.

16) METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGANCE – 2013

Dropping the ‘Solid’ from it’s title and shifting developers to Platinum Games (who made the totally insane and great Bayonetta) might be the smartest move this title made. Raiden is the star here as you control a CYBORG NINJA with a SAMURAI SWORD. That is all.

.

17) SLEEPING DOGS – August 2012

Rescued from the dumpster of Activision, Sleeping Dogs is in fact True Crime Hong Kong – except with a new title and more development time. Influenced by Hong Kong cinema, this looks like a lot of fun.

.

18) RAINBOW SIX: PATRIOTS – 2013

For goodness sake Ubisoft give me my Rainbow Six! It’s been 4 years! The two Vegas games were great and I expect this to be just as good – don’t let me down!

.

19) TOMB RAIDER – 2013

Finally XBox 360 owners will get to play Uncharted… Oh sorry I meant, look it’s a new Tomb Raider game! πŸ˜‰ Eidos are giving Lara Croft a reboot ‘Dark Knight’ style and this looks like it could be really good. And it’s some climbing, treasure based action to tide us over until Uncharted 4.

.

20) NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED (VITA) – November 2012

The Vita really needs a top draw driving game in my opinion. As it appears there are no plans for a Gran Turismo on the handheld the mantle falls to Criterion (of Burnout fame) who will be bringing Need For Speed to Vita alongside it’s PS3 brother. Should be great.

.

21) FAR CRY 3 – September 2012

Unfortunately Far Cry 2 was one of those games that I started but ended up getting lost in a deluge of other great titles. The third instalment certainly looks great, hopefully the gameplay will be smooth as well.

.

22) ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES – 2013

Another game that’s been pushed back to next year is Gearbox’s love letter to the film ‘Aliens’. This one could go either way I feel, I’m hoping it veers towards the action based set pieces of the film and does the universe justice.

.

23) DUST 514 – TBC

Dust 514 is a free to play FPS that will hit the PSN later this year. It ties in with a PC title called Eve Online – some missions in Dust will be given by people playing the PC game. Interesting idea, will be keeping an eye on how this one does.

.

24) CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS: DECLASSIFIED (VITA) – November 2012

Rumour has it this will be the missions that were made for Black Ops but that didn’t make it into the final game. Sounds cool to me – I enjoyed Black Ops but please Treyach, no poorly implemented exploding barrel sequences this time ok?

.

25) PREY 2 – 2013

I don’t know much about the first Prey as I never played it but the trailer for the second game (which you can see here) looks pretty sweet. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this one in the upcoming months.

.

So there you go – 25 games to keep on your radar. Anything I’ve missed? What games are you guys most excited about?

.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine