In 2012 Activision was in the thick of its Call of Duty franchise, riding high off the success of Black Ops II for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The company was eager to give the PS Vita a shot, and called upon developer Nihilistic to create a separate Call of Duty experience for Vita owners. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified was born.
The game released on November 13th, in time to catch the wave of Call of Duty madness. Activision even gave it a decent amount of promotion, with a live-action commercial featuring players going at it in online sessions.
However, it was all for naught. The game was miserable across the board, due to numerous problems and the horrendous reviews that followed. Looking back three years later, we can't help but wonder what went wrong? Well, in a nutshell, everything.
First let's talk about the multiplayer. The title came loaded with a number of modes, including Team Deathmatch, Team Tactical, Drop Zone, Kill Confirmed and Free-for-All. It also had a variety of maps, with seven to choose from, pretty decent for a portable game, but obviously short compared to console releases. Additionally there were three tiers of perks, along with Killstreaks where you could earn bonus items like a Care Package or Helicopter.
Unfortunately the multiplayer didn't work. When the game released, a large number of players experienced disconnect messages, leading to great frustration. In addition, while there are multiple maps, they were much smaller than your routine Call of Duty locations.
Second, performance, which simply couldn't live up to other games. There were several noteworthy glitches, like players disappearing through walls and having weird animations, which led to a number of errors during online matches – again, when said multiplayer worked. On top of that, some copies of the game were even notorious for crashing entirely, as players would find a game-stopping glitch that forced them to restart.
What really sunk the game, though, was the control set-up. With the PS Vita and its twin analog sticks, you'd think it would be ideal for a first person shooter like Call of Duty, but the controls felt floaty, resulting in a lack of accuracy when it came to shooting.
Next up is content. The game's multiplayer options, as listed above, are certainly fewer than most Call of Duty games, but even with the limitations of the Vita, there could've been room for more. The game never received any sort of DLC options like the console versions – and for good reason, considering it was probably the weakest selling chapter in the series.
But there's more. For those who couldn't enjoy online multiplayer, the only feasible option was the single player campaign. Only there isn't one. Instead, you're taken through a series of 10 short missions, tying in characters like Alex Mason and Frank Cross, along with a secret operative. It's great having recognizable characters featured in the game, but it's lacking a significant plot.
As a result, you're likely to blow through all of these missions within an hour or two – if you last that long, considering the game's heavily flawed controls. On top of that, the AI behavior is so incompetent you can melee everyone and not even take a scratch.
Do yourself a favor and forget Declassified existed. If you're looking for a better action experience on PS Vita, Killzone: Mercenary comes to mind, since it makes better use of the hardware.