Hands-On Preview: Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified

Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified doesn’t have the blockbuster marketing of the usual Call of Duty title, and maybe there’s a reason for that.

I just had a chance to try the multiplayer and a couple single player modes, and I came out wondering, because I know that the Vita can do a lot more than that.

The visuals are “nice”, and I think the choice of word with the obligatory airquotes says it all. This isn’t to say that the game looks bad, but it just doesn’t look as good as a game on the Vita should look, as other titles demonstrated.

The resolution isn’t bad at all, but the palette is a drab mix of shades of brown, there’s quite a bit of visible aliasing, and, ultimately, the polygon count seems rather sacrificed. Character animations also look simplistic and robotic.

Hands-On Preview: Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified

Do things get better by moving to the gameplay? Yes and no.

The presence of the dual stick is definitely a boon for the game. It feels and plays mostly like a home console shooter, even if the limited size of the sticks requires a bit of trial and error, if you’re not used to playing shooters on the Vita. After a few minutes, though, I was already lining up head shots (and I’m not exactly the best shooter kid on the block) without any apparent aim assist.

A little problem appears due to the lack of a second pair of shoulder buttons, that prompted Nihilistic Software to move grenades and melee attacks (together with Killstreaks like sentry guns and similar) to the touch screen.

In single player this isn’t a terrible hindrance, and it’s actually pretty fun to tap the screen to slash an overly daring enemy with the knife. Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that the artificial intelligence seems to be made of half-tamed monkeys that will stare at you for a good while before registering the fact that you’re an enemy and, just maybe, they’re supposed to try and kill you.

Hands-On Preview: Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified

The control scheme can can get unwieldy in multiplayer, where every second counts — especially due to the fact that the Vita is bigger than the usual controller, so moving your fingers from the shoulder buttons to the sides of the screen can easily cost you a re-spawn.

Speaking of re-spawns, multiplayer suffers quite a lot due to the small size of the maps. While I understand that the limited number of players (up to eight) may make bigger maps too slow paced, spawning with the barrel of a rifle already aimed between your eyes is never too much fun. In all the multiplayer maps I tried, spawn camping was basically institutionalized and promoted to an art form.

On the positive side, the game includes a metric ton of different guns and weapons (including the extremely fun crossbow) and basically all the deep customization and progression that Call of Duty games got us used to. You’ll spend hours with plenty perks, prestige mode and a decent assortment of killstreaks.

Hands-On Preview: Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified

Is this enough to create a big hit on Sony’s shiny portable console (that can probably do a lot better)? It’ll probably depend on the pull of the Call of Duty name and on the strength of the single player campaign, that I, unfortunately, didn’t have a chance to try.

The biggest risk i can see, for the moment, is for it to be just a Call of Duty on the Vita. For some, it may very well be enough, but when a publisher like Activision doesn’t beat the every drum on Earth over a Call of Duty title, there must be a reason.


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  • The game probably does the same as the console versions. Sub-HD framebuffers.
    many other Vita games do this as well. And it’s pretty fuckin pathetic that they can’t get some of these games to run at native 960X544 which is ONLY HALF the resolution of 720p(1280×720)(and IMO it should be flatout not allowed. Seriously, who pays for this super ultra high res portable when games can’t even run at it’s native res?). MGS2&3 don’t even run at Native res on the Vita. 1 is 11 years old and the other 8 years old.

    But considering that Black Ops on the PS3 only ran at ~960X544(no joke)(other CoD games go as high as 1024×608 or something IIRC on the PS3) this isn’t surprising.

    Either the developers are the problem. Or the hardware just isn’t strong enough.

    Still though, I think the correct way to approach this game is to approach it like the DS versions. Don’t expect the same as the consoles..

    • Eh, it’s not really a matter of expecting full 100% home console quality. It’s simply that many other games on the same console simply do better.

      But ultimately, graphics are not really the main problem here. Hopefully the campaign will be better than the modes I tried.

    • Michelle

      You sound pretty dumb to be even talking trash about resolutions. Mostly all games don’t technically ever run in the full resolution regardless of what you set your TV or monitor to.

      That is what you don’t understand. You are expecting a handheld to do more than what any console can do currently or even most PC’s for that matter? You just sound stupid no offense.

      You are also stupidly comparing older games also that don’t never were meant for HD, they easily could but it has nothing to do with the Vita but how it was coded to work on the Vita and how it originally made in the first place, if that game at that time didn’t support a higher resolution which they didn’t it isn’t going to magically get higher on the Vita just because it has a HD make over.

      This is basic common knowledge if you have ever used emulators on a PC, you can easily scale older PS1, PS2 and PSP games to 1080p and yes it will look sharper but don’t get it twisted the game has been coded to run at a certain resolution regardless so no matter how high you bump it up it will still look the same just maybe sharper.

      If you can’t understand any of that then don’t bother trying to act as if you know anything because you are coming off as sounding like a complete moron right now. The only people expecting Vita games to be PS3 games are people like you, Nintendo never had to tell people a difference because it is a blatantly obvious difference.

      The problem with the Vita is that it is literally on the edge of being a completely portable console that can compete with consoles and even run console quality games which it can, people like you seem to take that as a direct statement from Sony or something as if they said the Vita is a portable PS3 which they never did, they said it could play console quality games and it can.

      I take it you don’t own a Vita it always people like you talking so much stupid crap about it, otherwise you would know even with capped resolutions it still has the best looking screen and most detailed games you will see on a handheld as of now. So why the hell look at as anything differently?

      You want to complain about the price and act like it isn’t worth it? Yea you probably don’t own one.

      The system cost as much as the 3DS did when it was first released and yet you aren’t saying crap about how awful the 3DS resolution was or how poorly designed and cheaply made it was.

      The Vita is worth every cent you pay for it, it isn’t some piece of crap device and they didn’t cut production of the device to pinch a penny like the 3DS with it’s no second analog stick and extremely cheap parts.

      It is currently the best portable gaming device, more powerful than any current handheld, smart phone or tablet. Somehow that is not impressive enough to anyone. I love society today, they complain so much yet they literally have no clue about any of the subjects they actually complain about.

      Go buy an iphone 4s for $500 dollars and please tell me how it can play the same quality games the Vita can, please do. Because guess what it can’t it is impossible, the Vita’s hardware is even superior to that of the iphone 5 and the new ipad 4 coming out, again if you think otherwise it is obvious you pay no attention to what these devices are actually built of hardware wise.

      I am not going to bother giving the the specifications of each device as I know exactly what I spend my money on unlike some people. You can easily look them up compare it yourself and realize wow the Vita is the best portable gaming device around right now.

      You are honestly just being a total sour puss if you think the Vita is expensive, it is cheaper than most devices that can do far less, were made cheaper and are far less powerful. Hell most crappy MP3 players cost more money and that is all they do is play music.

      About the only thing that ever can run a game in it’s full resolution would be a PC. Even then it again all depends on the coding and mostly all games are coded so they can run well, there are resolution set within the game other than the normal resolution you tend to think of as being strictly related to a screen..

      Hopefully you learn something out of all this and I am not trying to degrade you, I am just saying this comment you made was really stupid and literally everything you complained about end demoted the Vita as something not worth it for literally has nothing to do with the Vita itself but everything to do with the developers of these games.

      So if you want to complain about how developers still can’t achieve full HD textures still then please complain all you want but at least have your facts straight first is all I am asking.

      • It’s not a matter of one thing or another such as “home console quality”. It’s about being saying that it runs in ultra buzzwords “HD!” “720p!” When it’s NOT. It’s DECEITFUL to the customers. It’s down right almost false advertising.

        MGS2 and 3 are old games, so pray tell me WHY it’s ok for them to say it’s “HD Collection” on the packaging and it’s NOT ACTUALLY “HD” in any form at all. In fact it’s BARELY anymore resolution than the games originally ran at 512×448.
        Where as the PSVita version runs @ ~720X448 which is freaking pathetic. AND NO, it DOES NOT matter whether the games were originally designed to run one way or another. These “Ports” are not running the same exact code as the original game. hence the word “PORT”. They take the game and rebuild it to work on another system. And since they couldn’t even get these old games to run from “porting” them at the System’s native resolution. It PROVES either, A) They didn’t have enough time or or the skills or B) The system isn’t powerful enough.

        It’s ONE THING to run a game at a lower internal resolution on a system where the display device is not fixed. But COMPLETELY DIFFERENT when you are developing for a fixed display system.

        You don’t advertise and claim your handheld system as a “Console replacement” And then make it underpowered and unable to play and display games at the resolution the device was designed around. Which is only (FACT) half the amount of pixels of 720p already.

        Also: Way to be arrogant and completely condescending. K THX.

        • To be honest, the vita is totally capable to get very near to console quality. It has with some of its games that look downright spectacular. So no, I’m in complete disagreement with the idea of it being deceitful.

          The fact that some third party developers don’t put the proper development effort to achieve it is a quite different problem, and this one seems to be the case.