Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

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Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified is real, and we’ve played it. I think the highest compliment I can pay it is to say that, well, it looks and plays like Call of Duty. The running and gunning, the aiming down the sights, the familiar Bank Gothic notices popping up when you land a long-range shot or end an opponent’s killstreak, the weapon loadouts and multiplayer modes — they’re all here, rendered on PS Vita’s luscious OLED screen and playable with dual analog sticks in a mobile setting for the first time.

Activision Product Manager Ryan Scott’s gamescom presentation cut straight to the heart of the matter, starting with the game’s multiplayer offering — a key consideration for any self-respecting CoD title. Multiplayer in Black Ops Declassified supports up to eight players via WiFi across six maps, encompassing essential play modes such as Free for all, Team Deathmatch, and Kill Confirmed, with other “classic Call of Duty modes” promised. Other trademark Call of Duty mechanics such as Create-a-Class, Killstreaks, XP, Perks, and Prestige were all present and accounted for.

Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

So how is developer Nihilistic adapting Call of Duty to PS Vita? After playing a round on the new “Shatter” map, it’s clear their goals were to change as little as possible. In fact, after inverting the Y-axis, I didn’t bother asking the devs on hand about the controls – everything was where I expected it to be.

Access to the knife, flashbang, and frag grenade that are assigned to L2/R2 or L3/R3 on PS3 are easily accessible on the front touchscreen. To hurl a grenade, you simply drag the grenade icon to the area of the screen where you want to throw it, or hold it to cook the fuse before you lob it. The ability to independently aim your grenade throw while shooting in another direction is a new tactical wrinkle for the series, and one that will surely be leveraged by experienced players. The knife is even quicker to use because you can tap any part of the screen not already assigned to something else to swipe your blade. That’s a highly practical implementation of the touchscreen, as players won’t have to fumble to tap a small icon during a heated CQC encounter, and we found it was quick and responsive.

Call of Duty Black Ops: DeclassifiedCall of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Those all-important Killstreaks work the way you’d expect. Once you’ve unlocked a killstreak, the icon pops up on the left side of the screen and you can tap to trigger it. The mortar strike killstreak was blessedly simple: tap the icon to open the map, touch the target, and launch a volley of fiery death to annihilate the opposition.

That leaves sprinting, which is executed by pressing down on the directional pad. The left stick and D-pad are placed closely enough on PS Vita that you can place the tip of your thumb on the D-pad while keeping your left thumb on the left stick for quick recovery. The only use of the rear touchscreen we saw was to hold your breath while peering down the sniper’s scope – not something you’re likely to accidentally trigger.

Create-a-Class is fully supported with custom loadouts and Perks Black Ops: Declassified will also leverage PS Vita’s geo-social “near” functionality with Share-a-Class, enabling players to transmit a character class via WiFi using “near,” and will allow your friends access to load-outs they haven’t yet unlocked through regular progression. Prestige levels are also confirmed.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Visually, the multiplayer map “Shattered” looked sharp, with swirling dust motes, flapping bits of cloth, crumbled architecture, and a steady framerate.

Single-player content wasn’t shown, though Activision confirmed that it will consist of objective-based missions, along with survival and time trial missions, to keep the experience tuned for mobile play. They’ll be wrapped within an original story taking place between Call of Duty: Black Ops and the forthcoming Black Ops 2. Want to know what happened to Hudson, Mason, and Woods before this fall’s Black Ops 2? You know what to do.

Based on what we saw and played, Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified looks and feels much as you’d expect it to – only now it can take the experience with you on PS Vita. For CoD fans, that’s right on target.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified arrives this November. Are there any specifics you’d like to know? We’ll be speaking with developer Nihilistic soon, and will do our best to get your questions answered. Leave ‘em in the comments below!

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8 Author Replies

  • I think if the multiplayer maps are a small enough size, then 4vs4 online shouldn’t be very bad. It just depends on how the maps for this game are constructed.

  • This is great that we are getting more games now for the Vita! I was starting to lose hope.

    I probably won’t buy this game though. I don’t really like Call of Duty… : /

  • the trailer for call of duty black ops declassified sucks!!! the graphics is really bad!!! it’s like a psp game!!! not even close to the console version!!! it looks just like resistance burning skies!!! I hope the final version will be better than the crappy trailer!!! and pls!!! bring zombies!!!

  • Great info, the controls were exactly as I would have hoped for!

    Does the game run at a 60fps clip?

  • While it’s very cool a game this big and popular is now available for the vita to play online, I still can’t see myself buying it because the Vita’s piss poor wi-fi connectivity. I can’t even connect to my modem downstairs in my own house. The signal is THAT weak.

    The vita’s strong games will be single player games for sure that are addicting and easy to pocket when you have something to do.

    That being said, Call of Duty Declassified will need a top notch single player campaign + the ability to do single player survival for this game to be worth the purchase. What a shame considering Call of Duty’s highlight has always been its addicting multiplayer. Might have to pass on this one.

  • Instead of closing Zipper you guys should’ve made them make this. Nihilistic is Spark Unlimited-tier and they can’t deliver a good game.

  • I heard the multiplayer wasn’t going to blow vita users. I prefer for someone else to develop the game.

  • Just had to log-in and say if Resistance Burning Skies turned out pretty good (aside from a lot of detractors), then this game has potential. I can see Nihilistic getting really big someday.

  • I agree with Comment #3!!!!!

  • Will there be an in-game party system for competitive multiplayer modes, such as the ability to join a multiplayer match with a group of friends, on the same team?

  • I actually have quite a few questions…

    1. Is this developed on the IW engine or the same as Resistance: Burning Skies?

    2. Will there be a DLC season and how long are you hoping to support the game?

    3. Will Call of Duty: Elite be implemented in any way?

    4. Will there be zombies?

    5. What is the level cap and how many prestiges are there?

    6. Will there be any sort of interactivity with Black Ops II on PS3 at all? Just any little thing besides the story.

  • seems this is the legit thing, hopefully nihilistic is being closely supervised by activition so they do not mess it up. One quick question I have is how are u going to utilize both the granades and the knife without accidentally using one or the other?

    • In my experience, I didn’t miss them. I know when I want to chuck a grenade, so I can be sure to aim my thumb. Melees kind of happen suddenly, so you can hit anywhere on the screen *except* the grenade icon and you’ll slash.

  • I hope it have zombies. Zombies is one of the best things in Call of Duty. Plz bring zombies. Also the controls look great. Can’t wait to buy it if the game is great.

  • What has Nihilistic done differently from burning skies.

  • Please mode zombies? thanks

  • I was really disapointed in burning skies as were alot of people

  • I just hope for great game play control and smoothness in awesome graphics on this release from resistance dev

    Also waiting for answers from those who asked o-O

  • It would be pretty embarrassing for it to not have Zombies. There’s a $5 CoD game on Xperia Play that is just Zombies.

  • After that embarrasing comments you got the first blog cod discussion,I figured you’ll try to take game down under radar as long as you can or even cancel it,seriously this disaster is not cod,you can see at first glimpse its just reskinned resistance burning skies and that is not something you want to bring up.

  • Yup…certainly looks like a re-skinned Resistance Burning Skies. And that’s not a good thing. Expecting absolutely nothing good from this game, and I’m sure that’s precisely what we will get. Jeff, I applaud your attempt at sounding positive about it; you’re about the only one. That’s some beast PR work on your part.

  • 1. Is there going to be a way to invite and/or join a friend?
    2. Is there going to be private match?
    3. Are they going to release any map packs after the game come’s out
    4. will the mic of the Ps Vita work with this?
    5. can they release an app like Call of Duty Elite to share our game plays on any social network or at least that can let us save the video on the Ps Vita?
    6. will Black Ops declassified have more sensitiveness than Resistance: BR
    like when someone following you and you want to look back really quick
    7. hope this game will still have the same soundtrack for MP that Black Ops had

  • will we be able to teabag someone or jump like in Black ops when you hold circle?

  • while running

  • So, the controls sound exactly like Resistance: Burning Skies. The grenade toss mechanic is exactly the same, as is the sprint button. Although, in Resistance, you can alternately double-tap the rear touchpad to initiate a sprint. I found that to be preferable to reaching for the d-pad. I hope that’s implemented the same in this game.

  • Hey Jeff! Long time no see!

    I thought Black Ops Declassified would be a spin off of Black Ops 2, but I guess it is a spin off of the first Black Ops?

    Looks pretty good tp be honest.

  • Also, if there are Nazi Zombies, I can pretty much guarantee that one or two of my friends will buy a PS Vita, especially as I will be “helping” them along in their decisions. I hope this is one of the “classic COD modes” that you hint at.

  • So the game kinda takes place in between Black Ops and Black Ops 2? That is sick! :D

  • Game looks great day one buy no matter what

  • Has Nihilistic called up DICE about those gun sounds yet?

    Also, long live the inverted-Y master race! :)

  • LOL I loved reading this before I opened this blog post “Call of Duty on PS Vita plays a lot like Call of Duty on PS3 — which is exactly how we like it”

    Have you ever played CoD on PS3 it’s a terrible port

  • I thought this was supposed to be a full-on COD experience on the go? Everything is smaller according to the preview. I will laugh my butt off if Activision has the galls to charge premium $50 for this.

  • does it have zombies?

  • Any comment on why Activision seems to refuse to take questions or comments on the Gamescom demo. According to Edge Magazine, they cut short the demo time and basically got out as quicky as possible. Have they even been monitoring the development? Was the demo as big a shock to them as it was to most who saw it?

  • Can this be a cross-buy game with BLOPS2?

  • Will there be any resemblance of a Combat Training Mode?

  • The gameplay looks laggy when watching on my 42″ TV, but when I watched it on my vita, the game actaully looks smooth. So day 1 buy for me.

  • CoD Declassified looks pretty good, but I had to ask. Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 on the PSP supported 32-person online multiplayer or 8-player ad hoc matches… why with all the advances in the PSVita hardware are they unable to come close to that or are they implementing that later on?

  • You’re the only one to play it outside of the devs, huh Jeff? That’s funny, I guess the previews I read all over the internet from well-known sites like IGN at Gamescom were fabricated.

  • How long has this game been in development jeff?I asked this in the last blog post about the game too but no response :(

  • Does 4×4 over WiFi mean ad-hoc or over Playstation Network? Can’t imagine CoD working without online support.

  • nothing is new here that we didn’t already know….. nor is there anything which will make me reconsider my initial thoughts and reaction of how unpleasant i feel about what i have seen and what is included in the game….. 4v4 is going to get DULL very very fast….. just like it did in R:BS….. I will be waiting for REVIEWS….

  • Have they worked there hardest to bring us a full blow Call of Duty expierence?

  • How do you sprint and through grenades?

  • I Like it but multiplayer is not good for me y 4 vs 4 wow and it be better if it was 6 vs 6 or 7 vs 7

  • Does it have Ad-hoc and/or Combat Training(bots)?

  • People need to chill out about the graphics. Call of Duty has never been a game with revolutionary graphics. And calm down about Nihilistic. From what I heard, Resistance BS was mediocre because of story and some touch screen controls, not gameplay. Well from reading this article, they don’t have a small melee icon anymore and sprint is mapped to a button now. Have faith people, geez.

  • I’ll just say this. I hope those supposedly responsible soon learn that vita owners are wanting GOOD games. Games people will actually pay for. It’s no joke people are already walking away.

  • @MrSoloLobo: Correction. G4 and IGN both said the game ruined the franchise with its story and didn’t show the Vita’s potenital at all with its crappy unrealistic graphics.

  • I’d rather hear more about Killzone. It looks miles better, and I’m really curious about it. I hope we can ask the developers (is it by Guerrilla Games? I hear that some places, but haven’t been able to find that anywhere that would valid it :/)

    And this is coming from a person who liked Burning Skies, but isn’t delusional and realizes it was mediocre at best. I really hope they fix up the sounds, these sounds are awful and the sounds in BS were awful too. Which just makes me think they didn’t learn anything from BS, if they’re repeating negative points of their previous failure.

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