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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified

For: PS Vita


Product: Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified | Developer: nStigate Games | Publisher: Activision Blizzard | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Shooter | Players: 1-8 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified PS Vita, thumbnail 1
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified is a cynical, half-baked, tired little mess of a game, and Activision knows it. We didn't get a review copy of the game in before launch, or even on launch day. We had to go out and buy our own copy - such is the entertainment giant's faith in it.

I'm glad we did, because hopefully we'll save a few potential punters from squandering their hard-earned money on this garbage. You'll need to be the world's biggest fan of the series to derive any enjoyment from this lazy first-person shooter offering.

Where to begin?

If you're really into the fiction of the established Black Ops universe and are looking for more insight into Alex Mason and Frank Woods's past then you're out of luck. The presentation of their narratives is bewildering, jumping from character to character, not explaining fully where or when they are, or what they're up to in the individual missions - let alone why you should care.

You're in some snowy research facility! Now you're in a city shooting dudes in suits! Now you're in Afghanistan! "Are these events connected in some way?" you wonder to yourself, as you mow down room after room of identical looking soldiers in drab, lifeless environments.

Who knows? Maybe there's some greater canonical tie-in, but taken as a separate title outside of the two home console releases you'd be hard pressed to find anything that even tangentially links the seemingly disparate events that make up Declassified. They're all implemented simply to serve the purpose of dropping you in an area and asking you to wipe out the enemy.

That's because Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified sets its sights on a more instantly-rewarding, far shallower single-player experience. As you beat its dozen or so levels on varying difficulties, you build up Campaign XP. You're even awarded it for each kill. There are Time Trials to try and get a maximum of 3 stars for beating quickly, and a mode in which you attempt to survive increasingly difficult waves of aggressors.

It's not difficult in the slightest, missions are short, and if you're a seasoned Call of Duty player, you can probably beat the entire story mode in forty five minutes. However, the game attempts to counter this by being brutally unforgiving in certain spots, usually by adding hostages or a timer.

I couldn't push past the second level - no matter how hard I tried - for an entire hour, for example.

"Oh well" I said to myself, "at least I'll build up loads of XP to carry into the multiplayer". No. Those experience points have no bearing on the online component of the game.

Gun-shaped cookies

As for the down and dirty mechanics of play, this is a post-Modern Warfare game of Call of Duty, and things are as you'd expect.

You have access to two guns at any one time, you toddle into an area, spot an enemy, tap the left shoulder button to snap to the target, squeeze off fire, rinse, wash, and repeat 'til the credits start rolling.

There are none of the spectacular set pieces the series is known for, just section after section of totally adequate, completely phoned-in shooty shooty action.

Also, the analogue sticks are too twitchy by default, so you'll spend time lowering the sensitivity until you get things just right.

And there are some touchscreen shenanigans thrown in for no discernible reason. To throw a grenade you tap and hold the ever present grenade icon on the cluttered UI, drag to where you want to aim, and release.

This requires you to stop in the middle of a firefight, take your thumb off of the right stick (which controls where you're looking) and faff about smudging the screen with your index finger to hurtle the explosive.

Enemies react in almost the same way each time you tackle a section. This pop-up behaviour has been the same in most of the series, but the generous checkpointing of Infinity Ward's games means it's normally not noticeable.

Not so in Declassified. If you die then it's back to the start of the mission to do everything again - same enemy movements, same guns, same tactics, same embarrassing hackneyed voice acting. If you thought home console CoD was linear, you ought to play Declassified.

Wait, no, don't do that

It's not even as if your opponents put up much of a fight. A couple of bullets will put them down, and though it appears that they can see through walls (they'll start firing long before the laws of physics say they should be able to see you), their strategy in combat is often bewildering.

Some happy campers will dive for the nearest cover and fire round after round into the concrete block or burning car they're sheltering behind, for instance.

When they do line up their sights just right, and you take damage, it's difficult to tell how badly in shape you are. The visual representation of "it's just a scratch" and "dear God, get a priest" are almost the same.

Not that you can make too clean a retreat anyway, the geometry is dodgier than a £9 note. A small obstacle might snag you for whole seconds at a time, and invisible walls will deflect that perfectly lined up headshot you thought you had. Sometimes the AI trips up on them too, such as the soldier that threw a grenade at me, only to have it hit a low ceiling and bounce directly back at him.

It's all just so cookie cutter, lazily pasted together from the 'Big Book of Call of Duty Games' manual that nStigate Games was clearly handed. I could go on, but if you need a perfect example of how poor this element is, then just know that if you lose connection to the Internet at any point during the single player, a screen-covering pop up rears its head to notify you that this is the case, without pausing the action. It's thoughtless, it's sloppy, and it's infuriating.


If you thought that was bad, then perhaps the multiplayer is the worst offender. Though - criminally - only on a technical level. Which is to say: I spent two hours trying to play this aspect of the game, and managed to get in only five matches in that time. Declassified just doesn't want you to enjoy its online. Ever.

Random boots from games in progress, connections getting lost, the game hanging indefinitely and even one spectacular GPU crash that brought up a debug screen. All things I spent my time doing instead of blasting randoms in the face.

Yep, Declassifed manages to fail here so badly that I managed to see its secret inner workings - if only for a second before my device hard locked and needed a full reboot.

Which is a gigantic let down, because when games did hold, it's undeniably the best aspect of the title. It's a full, expansive experience with all of the Perks, Kill Streaks, loadouts, and upgrades you'd expect. By reusing sections from the single player the maps can feel small, but this does get you into combat quickly.

Each class feels different enough to the point that you can imagine people really sticking with one type and exploring its possibilities. You'll do this across the standard deathmatch and assault-type modes, plus Kill Confirmed, in which you must pick up the dog tags of fallen enemies to score.

But none of this matters if you can't actually access the content, which at the time of writing (launch day) is absolutely the case - even with a 400MB patch slapped on top of the baseline software. The patch did include an ad hoc multiplayer offering, but we weren't able to test this in time for the review.


Everything about Declassified is a massive middle finger to the fans. It's a £45.00 mistake for you to make this Christmas, driven to purchase it on a wave of excitement from Black Ops II on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

It serves no purpose but to frustrate and annoy, with lacking single player, little use of the potentially fascinating BLOPS universe, and almost totally broken multiplayer.
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 13 November 2012
A passionless take on a great licence. Only the most battle-hardened Call of Duty fans should even consider taking this one down to the range
Rate this game >> Average reader score: 
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Aug 2012
Post count:
Stanley Derochea | 02:56 - 4 July 2013
I can't understand why all you people are bashing the reviewer. His score was quite generous. I had a vita for the sole reason of having COD in the palm of my hands wherever I may be and to be honest I would rather play doodle jump on my iphone. I traded in my vita the same COD was released for it. I've never been let down so hard in my life, what a huge dissapointment it was. Everything about it was awful. Every single FPS on the ios App Store is light years ahead of BO DECLASSIFIED and a lot more enjoyable to play.
I know I'm a little late on this disscussion but I was just reading through the site and saw all these childish comments against the reviewer and couldn't resist defending his honest and truthfully review of one of the worst games I've ever had the displeasure of playing
Dec 2012
Post count:
@kie25x | 11:27 - 12 December 2012
Jul 2011
Post count:
adampsyreal | 13:55 - 2 December 2012
Gamestop gave me 33$ store credit for the copy I got free in my Vita bundle :) Their prices are based upon popularity; so I guess they hadn't ready your review yet. :)
Nov 2012
Post count:
@Tomwantsrez | 14:49 - 19 November 2012
@MR Bendel

An objective review would consist only of facts.

Here's a good example against objective reviews!

Aug 2012
Post count:
Mr Bendel | 14:53 - 16 November 2012
It's sad that in this day and age, reviewers are constantly having to defend their opinions. IGN was just talking on beyond about this exact problem as was the UK IGN podcast. I think it was the uk podcast where one reviewer had a comment on a review that said 'leave your personal opinions to the side and review the game objectively!'. People need to know these reviews are just that
May 2012
Post count:
amansth | 02:25 - 16 November 2012
again, i just wanna know if this is as good as resistance( a game i enjoyed but it did have major issues in the multiplayer among other things).

which game is easier to recommend.
( resistance at launch price or declassified)

i dont mind the numbers it gets.
i just wanna know if it's smooth (if short) consistently unline resistance.
Aug 2012
Post count:
@xeroxeroxero | 00:16 - 16 November 2012
Hi Deviator, I'm the reviewer in question, and I'm also the handheld editor here at PG, the leading website for portable gaming. I don't usually respond to comments - work should stand for itself - but yours compelled me to do so.

Declassified's single player was completed, and I tried to play the multiplayer on launch day for over two hours, but with very limited success, which was stated in my review. It wasn't a rush job, I spent hours and hours and hours on it.

I was negative in tone because I don't think the game is very good, hence the tone. The negative tone. About the bad game. See how those things might go together?

You also note that the "bigger review sites" haven't put their reviews out. You're wrong, check Metacritic for a full list of outlets that have. All of them are PG level of big, which is to say: big. We're actually one of the more generous scores on the net right now, for what it's worth.

You admit that the online doesn't work and say that "this has always been a common problem with COD around launch time so who cares?" Well I care Deviator, I want games to get better, I want you as a consumer to have more exciting, engaging and technically impressive games. What I don't want to do is think "well it's always been rubbish, so I guess it's okay this time round if it's still rubbish".

In addition you say that it "just isn't right" that Resistance is a better game. If you can show me the maths and science that proves Burning Skies isn't as good as Declassified, please do. If you can do that for any video game ever made, I'd be interested, as liking something is based on tastes. You know, "opinion", and not "facts".

Glad you took the time to comment, but please don't make assumptions about my credibility as a critic, and please get your facts straight before you base entire, and exceptionally rude arguments, on utter poppycock.

Much love, Peter x
Sep 2012
Post count:
Deviator | 19:31 - 15 November 2012
I'm not a COD fanboy. I loved Modern Warfare 2 but pretty much lost interest after that so any generalizations made of my comments being those of someone who can't see beyond the COD name or someone with a mindless desire to see a great game on the Vita are misguided.

Putting the Call Of Duty name to one side (along with any expectations that it brings to a game) I think that the Pocket Gamer review was guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of negativity that developed leading up to the release of this game. I found it almost hateful in it's negativity. As if the reviewer(s) had played just enough of the game to validate their preconceptions before deciding to let rip by publishing the first negative review. The slightly condescending article the Pocket Gamer editor posted today of "a day in the life of a review writer at Pocket Gamer" unfortunately does nothing to validate the overly negative review and low score given to the game. Resistance: Burning Skies was given a score by Pocket Gamer of 7/10. Call Of Duty: Black Ops - Declasified given a score by Pocket Gamer of 4/10. The scores are telling us that Resistance is much better than Declassified! This is just isn't right.

The movement and responsiveness of the controls in Call Of Duty Declassified are far improved over Resistance. There are issues with logging into online multplayer games (success rate of about 1 in 3 at the moment) but this has always been a common problem with COD around launch time so who cares? What we have here is an online multiplayer FPS on a handheld that is actually pretty good! Resistance was hopeless. Anyone with a Vita who wants to play an FPS on it should go and buy COD Declassified. Is it perfect? No. But it's hell of a lot better than the Pocket Gamer review would lead you to believe. It's worth noting that none of the bigger review sites (IGN, Gamespot, etc) have issued their reviews yet. Maybe they want to spend enough time with the game to ensure they give a balanced review...? Whatever score these sites award the game I doubt we'll see reviews toned as poorly as the Pocket Gamer one. The tone of it bugged me but what prompted me to sign-up and leave feedback on both the Declassified review and the article above is the score..... Call Of Duty: Black Ops - Declasified given a score by PocketGamer of 4/10..... Resistance: Burning Skies given a score by PocketGamer of 7/10 ...sigh... these scores are going to have people going out to buy the less enjoyable game! What on earth were they thinking? Hopeless reviewing.
Dec 2010
Post count:
NoMoneyLeftBoy | 01:45 - 15 November 2012
To those bitching about PGs IOS score for NFS, you do realise that the only useful game reviews are those written relatively to each device don't you? I mean, I own an iPhone and a Vita and my gaming expectations naturally vary depending on which device I have in my hands. To compare two scores written for two different games on two entirely separate platforms is just plain stupid and unhelpful.

I think this is a perfectly valid review and as a Vita owner I vey much object to others wilful acceptance of mediocrity for it. Vita can and must do far better.
Nov 2012
Post count:
@MitchellPlyler | 23:44 - 14 November 2012
I'd like to see a review after the patches come out for it.
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