The media blackout is over. After months of faintly covert operations, Activision finally took the wrapping paper off its big Vita exclusive at Gamescom today.
Hidden away in a (wonderfully air-conditioned) hotel suite near the vast, seething cauldron that is the Koelnmesse complex, we received what can only be described as the briefest of presentations. The big teasers.
As you'll have learned from yesterday's update, the game features four-on-four multiplayer matches over wi-fi, and a representative from developer Nihilistic was on hand to talk us through the game's basic features.
In terms of multiplayer, we can expect "all new" maps, with six in total making it into the game. Team Deathmatch is confirmed, and CoD fans can also look forward to Free For All, Kill Confirmed, as well as "other classic CoD MP modes". Activision also confirmed that the Create-A-Class feature will make it in.
Always on the go
For the lonely hearted single-player fans, the emphasis is firmly on delivering an objective-based campaign "designed for the player on the go." It will, apparently, be "just the right length" for a quick blast, allowing players to pick up the game whenever they feel like it.
The story in the campaign will be set in the years between the first and second Black Ops games, and will give players a glimpse of what the major characters were up to in the intervening period. Without spoiling it too much, it's a fair guess is that they shot a lot of men right in the head with a variety of advanced military hardware.
Alongside the traditional story-based shenanigans, solo antics are bolstered with the addition of a Time Trial mode, as well as the usual wave-based Survival mode. Sadly, no more detail was given during the 15-minute presentation.
What the reps did have time to talk about was how the game will control, and, as you might expect from a Vita title, the system's touch capabilities haven't been overlooked.
Ready, steady, cook
Throwing grenades, for example, can be performed using the rear touch-pad - you'll be able to hold, cook, and "directionalise" them with a simple targeting reticule. Once perfected, this gives you the option of shooting in one direction while lobbing a handful of exploding death in another. Cheeky.
The touchpad also allows you to hold your breath when sniping, while tapping lets you to pull off a swift melee move at close quarters.
After rattling through the basic feature set, we also got to witness a five-minute two-on-two wi-fi team deathmatch.
The first thing to note is that you'll be able to share your loadouts over wi-fi, even if other players haven't unlocked the same equipment. CoD fans were also promised that "your skillset won't go to waste," thanks to the Vita's twin-stick controls and familiar control configuration.
Kill or be killed
Moving on to the match itself, the team ran through a map called Shatter. Set in an unspecified bombed-out South-East Asian city, it promises to deliver "a good mixture of close-quarters battles and open courtyards" - something which was borne out by the rapid kill count.
A "host" of weapons will feature, including the usual shotgun, AK47-Us, and pistols, while kill streaks will also feature, allowing you to rain down mortar strikes and the like. Although the rep declined to offer further detail, it's likely to be much the same selection as what we're all familiar with.
Visually, the game was displayed to the assembled via a bank of big screen TVs, which arguably didn't show off the game in its best light.
Nevertheless, although no-one would say the game engine was quite up to the standard of the PS3 and 360, it was perfectly acceptable, with familiar texture detail, ambient light effects, flapping flags, and dust being kicked up.
You've been framed
That said, it looked almost certain that the game was running at a capped 30 frames per second, as opposed to the usual 60, so that's likely to cause a certain amount of consternation amongst the hardcore faithful.
Whether Black Ops - Declassified will be up to the standard of a full-blown console edition of CoD remains to be seen. And while Activision will be at pains to claim that this preview showing wasn't fully representative of its final quality, at this late stage in development it's certainly a fair indication.
We'll reserve judgement until we get a chance to go hands-on, but right now there's every reason to assume that Black Ops - Declassified will be - at the very least - a solid handheld version of the world's most popular shooter brand. Whether it's more than that, we'll have to wait and see.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified will be released exclusively on PS Vita in November 2012.