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Black Ops: Declassified multiplayer – shooting blanks

Wednesday, 15th August 2012 14:25 GMT By Dave Cook

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified is a second chance for Sony to show that Vita can support epic shooters. Alarm bells are already ringing in the ears of VG247′s Dave Cook.

Now, I reviewed Resistance: Burning Skies when it launched, and I wasn’t kind. Ever since Sony and Nihilistic started banging on about how it would be the game to prove that PS Vita can do shooters too, I didn’t buy it one bit.

Resistance: Burning Skies felt like a last-gen mess of murky environments, bland narrative and dross gameplay. It stank the place out, but it did get a few key things correct that gave the world hope.

At core level, the gameplay worked well on PS Vita’s dual sticks, and Nihilistic’s touch screen features actually felt intuitive after a few initial botched attempts.

Many of the touch features have been ferried directly into Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified. More on that later.

But this is a Call of Duty game, and anything but the slickest of gameplay will cut it with fans. Any let up in performance or fluidity, and gamers simply won’t stand for it. Again, the Burning Skies comparison has me worried.

Activision’s Ryan Scott was on-hand at gamescom to share what makes Declassified a pure Call of Duty experience. The plot, he says follows Mason, Hudson and Woods directly after the events of Black Ops, and across the years leading up to Black Ops 2.

The single-player campaign is made up of short covert missions that can be played in story mode, time trial or survival – which is just perfect for gamers on the go.

But multiplayer was the big question mark hanging in the air in Cologne today, and Scott was more than happy to share what little facts his superiors allowed him to – which wasn’t all that much.

He did tell us that multiplayer will ape the original Black Ops, with create-a-class, XP rewards, gear unlocks and, of course, the option to Prestige. Vita players can even share class load-outs over Near if they feel like giving struggling friends a leg-up.

Multiplayer is 4v4 over WiFi only, which really scales back on home console Call of Duty play. No ground war, just small skirmishes in enclosed environments.

Revealed modes were standard fare, including team deathmatch, Kill Confirmed and Free-for-all. Dropzone wasn’t mentioned, but eagled-eyed members of the audience spotted it on the menus while Scott and his team weren’t looking.

So then multiplayer gameplay began, starting with a new map called Shattered – which looks like it could just be a cross section of Black Ops map Cracked. Even the names are similar.

In short, the map looked just like most Call of Duty maps with none of Treyarch’s imagination or playfulness. Dusty streets, familiar textures and other assets that felt as if they had just been copied and pasted from Black Ops wholesale left a bad impression.

Another gaffe from the team led to a second map appearing on the menus, dubbed simply ‘Rocket’. It looked similar to the Black Ops map Launch if the menu art was anything to go by.

From the Black Ops: Declassified trailer, elements of Black Ops DLC map Discovery – with its Arctic bases and rusting corrosion was seen, suggesting that this is in real danger of being a proper hatchet job from Nihilistic, just as Burning Skies was.

The game’s debut trailer also suggests that visually, Declassified may fall short, dropping closer in line with an iOS shooter than a full blown console release. Seeing it in action however, it’s not that bad.

It was surprisingly slick, so at least many of the Call of Duty hallmarks are being adhered to. But perhaps a little too closely.

Everything – from HUD markers, to menus, from the rousing music and general aesthetic, felt like the original Black Ops. That’s fine if you’re a fan, but no one wants to play a lesser version of a product that already exists.

The one key difference is touch. Down the left hand side of the HUD you’ll see icons for your tactical devices – smoke grenades, flashabngs – and lethals, such as grenades.

To use them you simply have to drag the icon onto the play area and release to throw. The ability to shoot in one direction and lob grenades in another was exclaimed proudly by Scott, as the players threw their grenades clumsily into walls and all the wrong places. It was a faceplam moment.

Already, Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified sends worrying messages about quality, content and the true ability of Vita as a shooter platform.

In Resistance: Burning Skies, Nihilistic could at least profess that the game was a proof of concept, a way of showing that, at core level, FPS games on handhelds can exist comfortably.

This is the studio’s second chance. There may not be a third unless real changes and bespoke features start emerging from the creaking bones of what already looks like a lazy rehash.

Black Ops: Declassified may sell on name alone when it launches, but if this is what the end product looks like come November, it’ll be a disservice to Call of Duty.

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32 Comments

  1. mtnman3888

    Killzone: Mercenaries visually looked far superior. I look for that one to truly show what the Vita can do with FPS gameplay.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Timurse

    Even Unit13 looks like a little dumbed down PS3-game, not the iOS/PSP game as this piece of crap :(

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    “This is a Call of Duty game, and anything but the slickest of gameplay will cut it with fans”

    Ell Oh Ell.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 But Call of Duty is slick. It’s fast.

    The Vita game isn’t slick. It’s clumsy.

    Why is that funny?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    @4 It was more directed at the apparent expectations of the average fan for “quality” in the Call of Duty franchise, moreso than a remark on the “slick” gameplay.

    That said… Call of Duty’s aiming is fast, I’ll give it that. But fast =//= slick. Battlefield is slick. Vanquish is slick. Bayonetta is slick. Call of Duty is not “slick”.

    Great read either way, even if that particular line made me (literally) laugh out loud.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 ah I see. I wasn’t having a go, just curious about what you thought :)

    The game looks dire btw.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Da Man

    Just out of curiosity, what is there to CoD gameplay aside from the aiming (which is slick, in comparison to Bf sloppy one)?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Goffee

    No wonder the developer’s name was kept so hush, hush. It is hardly a good omen, and there is very little time to polish what could be a whopper. Then again, Call of Duty “came good” on the consoles at the fourth or fifth attempt, this is the Vita’s first go. Still, way more likely to buy this than Resistance

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Ireland Michael

    @6 Yeah, I know. No offence taken.

    @7 Well, you have to… uuuh… press a button to fire as well?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. bitsnark

    It looks routinely horrid.

    Rhetorical question time: I mean, is it really *that* hard to have a MP cap higher than 8 on a machine as supposedly grunty as the Vita?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Da Man

    So then how exactly is Bayonetta where you have to time and properly mix various button presses and evade against pre-set AI gets compared to it?

    Similarly, I’m just lost as to how someone can proclaim Vanquish plays nothing like Gears and then state that it’s superior in the next sentence.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. killersense

    unless the system sells third party won’t put too many resources into making these games and the system will only sell if the games are as good as the console versions or better in other ways. it will take a year or two for sony to bring out quality games like tearaway, gravity rush, lbpv from within their studios and grow the user base to a respectable level before third party will actually put some more effort.hopefully next year lego batman will be a console version port rather than a 3ds port, the next cod will actually look and play like a console version of the game on the go, madden will have cross play compatibility etc….

    fingers crossed because i love playing a lot of games on the vita as i commute to college a lot.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ManuOtaku

    Dave thanks for the preview, but one question, do you really think an strong console multiplayer game like this, could work on a handheld, with all the distractions inherent to a handheld, and i mean becuase when you play at a console you are focus and concentrated, and maybe isolated, and for that you dont have the normal interruptions or distractions that occur with a handheld, therefore what do you think?, it could work, taking in consideration the gameplay is topnotch.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DrDamn

    @5
    I love BF and prefer it over the CoD series, but in terms of controls and a lot of other areas (party set-up and play for example) CoD is much slicker. Obviously there is some personal preference in there, but I much as I love BF I never ever considered it slick. Rough diamond yes which I prefer playing yes, slick no.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. G1GAHURTZ

    “slick” is somewhat ambiguous.

    CoD’s controls are sharp, precise and fluid. Everything that you need for a twitch shooter.

    No other FPS comes close in that regard.

    Only one I’ve ever felt that came close was Blacklight.

    Of course… It’s almost impossible to understand this if you’re an FPS noob, because all that quality will be completely lost on your noobishness.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @15 you’ve hit was I was saying square on the head there mate :)

    @13 it’s a tricky question that I feel the industry is also currently asking itself. Mobile and handheld gaming is a growing market – rapidly so – and I think sometimes devs try to latch onto the craze quick without giving real regards to the quality of the product.

    It’s like App Store goldrush Apple saw when small devs realised they could potentially create the next Angry Birds and get rich overnight. It’s a fallacy however, because there they went – thousands of devs churning out utter rubbish, and it weakens the market (in terms of quality I mean) by creating a glut of inferior games.

    So to answer your question, I can’t properly answer it – yet :)

    #16 2 years ago
  17. ManuOtaku

    #16 ok thanks for the respond, as soon as you think you can properly answer it feel free to share your thoughts, please.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Erthazus

    @15,
    “CoD’s controls are sharp, precise and fluid. Everything that you need for a twitch shooter.

    No other FPS comes close in that regard.”

    LoL

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Dave Cook

    @18 It’s a twitch shooter, it’s by far the slickest twitch shooter.
    What would you say deserves to be called that instead?

    Also, why is my opinion funny?

    Again, have to stress I’m not having a go at you, just curious to see why people think they way they do.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. G1GAHURTZ

    Your opinion isn’t funny at all, Dave.

    It’s the sort of nervous laughter that comes out when you want to respond, but don’t have a clue what to say, because of the baselessness of your point.

    Any impartial person (not a CoD hater) will agree that CoD is successful for a number of reasons. The Controls being one of the biggest ones, alongside the XP/prestige system and the incredibly short amount of game time between kills.

    CoD hits players fast, like a drug, in a number of ways, and intentionally so.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Erthazus

    @19, Dave, your comment is not funny at all. My comment was to G1GAHURTZ.

    “What would you say deserves to be called that instead?”

    Quake 3:Arena, Unreal Tournament Games or The newest Counter-Strike:Global Offensive game from VALVE. Period.

    If CoD game was The slickest twitch shooter than there would be tournaments for it since the first Call Of Duty game in 2003 year. So far that never happened. Activision is trying to make tournaments happen, but … So far no success.

    @G1GAHURTZ, “CoD hits players fast, like a drug, in a number of ways, and intentionally so.”

    Compared to Quake 3:Arena, any Call Of Duty is a slow paced shooter.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Da Man

    ^

    CoD game was The slickest twitch shooter than there would be tournaments for it since the first Call Of Duty game in 2003 year. So far that never happened. Activision is trying to make tournaments happen, but … So far no success.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBSlg_AAzus

    Idiot…

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Dragon246

    Anyway if nihilistic can’t make a good game now that swords are hanging over their heads, they never will. For a game that prides itself on its multiplayer component , 4v4 is awful. I remember playing 32 player on PSP Medal of Honor, why the hell can’t they do that with vita?

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Da Man

    For a game that prides itself on its multiplayer component , 4v4 is awful.
    Why? Because your aiming is that terrible that you need 16 teammates and a tank to help you out? Okay then.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Erthazus

    @DaMan, “Idiot…”

    you are! because MLG is dead and casual piece of shit. Soon there will be mobile tournaments with Angry Birds.
    There was even tournament for Super Smash Bros. Brawl LOL.

    WCJ and CPL are huge. Well, at least CPL is big for now.

    upd: http://www.majorleaguegaming.com/promos/xperia-mobile-gaming-arena-%25e2%2580%2593-link-your-accounts-and-compete-for-over-10000 yeah, mobile tournaments from Sony with Xperia Play. With Xperia Play… Xperia Play…

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Dragon246

    @24
    Because bigger is better, and in this case a better bullet point to sell the game.
    Also how does individual deathmatch has teammates ?
    But I certainly prefer playing as a team rather than a lone wolf who dies like a dog. That’s how world rolls. Unfortunately many FPS players don’t know how combat works in real life.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Da Man

    How exactly is it dead if it’s the most active, the most well known e-sports nonsense out of all that? It gets the most coverage and is the first thing anyone from America would tell you when it comes to couch jockeys.Because you live in Russia or Latvia?

    You stated there’re no ‘tournaments’ for it, the sad fact of reality (for you) is that there’re plenty.

    Who decides if MLG is casual? You? Whoa re you exactly, and why is it that you can have that kind of opinion? Do you participate in any?

    Discussing anything with you, Эртазий, это то же самое что разговаривать со стенкой.

    —-

    Anyway….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberathlete_Professional_League

    CPL Summer 2004 Call Of Duty

    Idiot… Dead wrong and in massive denial.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. G1GAHURTZ

    “Quake 3:Arena, Unreal Tournament Games or The newest Counter-Strike:Global Offensive game from VALVE. Period.”

    Quake 3?

    Unreal Tournament??

    Are you serious?? That’s the best you can do? So if I want to play the slickest twitch shooter, I have to go back to 1999?

    Your answers are also kind of ironic blatantly hypocritical, since you appear to be the one who spends his time slagging off CoD for using the ‘Quake 3 engine’, but now you’re saying that CoD isn’t actually as good as Quake 3…

    Confused, much?

    As for CS:GO, which is also heavily based on a very old engine, IMHO, it’s nowhere near CoD in this context.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Da Man

    Also how does individual deathmatch has teammates ?
    But I certainly prefer playing as a team rather than a lone wolf who dies like a dog. That’s how world rolls. Unfortunately many FPS players don’t know how combat works in real life.

    If you prefer playing in a team, rather than running alone and shooting the other team in the back (or dying like you said), then 4 vs 4 clearly holds more value than a 16 vs 16…

    The less teammates, the more skill it takes to outperform. If 2 out of 4 are bad, then you’re quickly encircled and spawnkilled. Unless it’s just 1 vs 1, which is just pure aiming vs aiming.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Dragon246

    @29
    I am just saying they need a more meater multiplayer in order to entice people to buy vita to play this cod.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. monkeygourmet

    @ Erth,

    Just curious how many hours you think your going to clock up in Black Ops 2? you know what I’m talking’ about! :)

    Still makes me chuckle that you hate a game so much then log in about 400 hours into it, lol!

    You must feel so dirty! :)

    #31 2 years ago
  32. KrazyKraut

    Mh…like I said. When I got the info from PSN Blog, I went straight here and then to NS’s facebook page. People already wrote their worries about CoD on Vita. They answered some hours ago:

    “Just wanted to say, we appreciate all the feedback on the announcement trailer, and we’re doing everything we can to take your feedback & suggestions into account before final release. Thanks.”

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nihilistic-Software/149924861737291

    #32 2 years ago

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