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Customer Discussions > Video Games forum

First review of Black Ops: Declassified? ( owie)

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Showing 1-25 of 96 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2012, 4:47:52 PM PST


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 fire fight, 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 £9.00 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.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 4:53:24 PM PST
DVvM says:
Reading the text of that review, I'm surprised that merits a 4.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 4:59:44 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
They should've just released the MP on PSN for $15.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 5:03:17 PM PST
Further proof that Activision is the devil.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 5:11:59 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 13, 2012, 5:12:29 PM PST
I actually enjoyed Burning Skies. It's too bad the single player in Declassified is some rushed short string of missions that last under 1 hour, in addition to the game's multiplayer problems.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 5:19:39 PM PST
Aku says:
Remember when this game was vaguely presented at E3 without a shred of gameplay footage, and Sony fans pointed to this as evidence that they were going to tweak and perfect the game before even showing it off?


In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012, 5:44:13 PM PST
Sony at E3: coughcoughgargle Call of Duty on Vita coughcough Don't reveal the developer yet garglecoughcough

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 5:56:26 PM PST
Another crappy shooter from a crappy developer.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 7:23:14 PM PST
Yung says:
Wow that's extremely disappointing, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Wasn't Sony involved in this game's development? I remember reading something like that. I was saving $200+ specifically for the Vita/Declassified bundle on Black Friday. I guess I won't be getting it anymore.

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 7:28:28 PM PST
Oooooh That's gonna leave a mark.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012, 7:28:42 PM PST
the assassins creed bundle still looks worth it though

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 7:41:31 PM PST
Blake says:
Nihilistic strikes again.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 13, 2012, 9:19:41 PM PST
Definitely. Liberation has a few hiccups, but it's overall a fantastic game. And you get a white Vita. Win, win.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 2:08:31 AM PST
Oh, sure. I bet in your perfect world everything is white, isn't it, UziSpray? Or should I say, Hitler?!

Posted on Nov 14, 2012, 4:32:23 AM PST
Voice of god says:
Sounds like it should have stayed classified.

*ba dum tsh*

Posted on Nov 14, 2012, 5:07:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 14, 2012, 5:13:20 AM PST
got mayo?™ says:
I'd say its a 6/10 game as a whole, if you are buying for wifi MP...i'd reach and say its a 7.5/10 game. Sorta like the Vita Madden. Not what we come to expect from the latest entries, but a pretty faithful representation of the core game/mechanics for handheld and short sessions. The graphics do look great and closely mimic the console counterpart. It is no Golden Abyss, but it sure is no Burning Skies fugly either.

Its MP is straight up CoD Black Ops on smaller maps with good flow, but the campaign structure is just like Unit 13...a shooting gallery. So to play Nuketown online with twin sticks, with pretty much the full Blops MP/XP/perks system, it is serviceable.

This is not in any way , shape or form for the folk that actually like to play CoD campaigns or story. The free game included: CoD: Roads to Victory (PSP), which Pocker Gamer gave an 80, is supposed to have about a 6hr WWII campaign.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012, 5:09:28 AM PST
jtshiel says:
I love Nihilistic Studios.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 6:33:52 AM PST
So basically they dropped the ball because the short campaign? That's' stupid

Posted on Nov 14, 2012, 6:43:29 AM PST
StriderNeo15 says:
I don't even understand why these guys would pay for a game just to bash it on their website. It seemed like it was a forgone conclusion already that this was going to be terrible.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 7:19:30 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
Completely and wholly unsurprised by this review. They described a Nihilistic (or nStigate) game to a T. Shame...I was really excited for the CoD experience on a handheld that's tailor-made for a CoD game. If it EVER drops in price I may still snag it, but I won't be expecting much.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 7:36:11 AM PST
Given the lack of reviews for this game it was a golden opportunity to drive web traffic to their site.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 7:36:39 AM PST
StriderNeo15 says:
You have a point there.

Posted on Nov 14, 2012, 7:37:20 AM PST
One hour can't be right though, that's ridiculous.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 7:37:34 AM PST
JWK says:
They had to go out and buy their own copy? Holy balls. But based on how the quality of the game sounds, it was probably the smart decision not to send out copies.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2012, 7:37:45 AM PST
You did it wrong... Should have went with...

Looks like this game should have...

*Puts on his sunglasses*

stayed classified.

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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  24
Total posts:  96
Initial post:  Nov 13, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 15, 2012

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