The lights are on
The Play Station Vita has been out for a decent amount of time, and yet no games- save a few, have truly found a sweet spot on the portable device. (Uncharted: Golden Abyss is about the only one that comes to mind, honestly...other than Gravity Rush I suppose.) While the developers behind Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, and Resistance have tried to eagerly drag more money into their pockets with portable versions of their series' titles, this has been met with some extremely mixed results. Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Uncharted: Golden Abyss were both pretty decent games, which I would rate as 8.0's, and Resistance: Burning Skies was worth about a 7.5, but now we have one last big title coming our way... Coinciding with the recently released Black Ops 2, of similarly mixed results as these handheld titles, comes Black Ops: Declassified. It is therefore all the more shameful and a terrible folly when you recognize the fact that no sane person would actually buy Declassified, at least not once they had first witnessed the calamity that it brings to the name alone. Honestly, I would ignore this call if I were you- because it most certainly is a suicide mission this time around. Think Soap had it bad?
Even with the flaws that I already pointed out the other day upon Black Ops 2's release, Declassified takes those bugs and issues as a dare of sorts apparently- because it managed to muck every ratable category up about five times worse than the worst aspects of Black Ops 2 (Strike Force of course). In no way does this game show the level of quality that generally comes with the title, and that is all the more saddening, as that the two CoD games released this year haven't been very well received, and probably won't be in the coming months... Honestly, that poor shooter game you heard about a few months ago (Unit 13) was much better and complete than this. Think the single player campaign is at least acceptable or respectable? Think again. There is quite literally no story, and the ten stand alone missions only seem similar to Black Ops because they have Mason, Woods, and others as playable characters. After that, most of the similarities halt.
The enemy AI will literally run into your line of fire, which I normally wouldn't complain about, but is quite annoyingly easy and so idiotic in the numerous times they do so that it actually genuinely irks me. They'll even commit suicide by their own means if you let them: explosive failures, team killing, etc. When they aren't killing each other however, enemies will generally contentedly perch somewhere until you find them and put them out of their misery. Back to the single player missions however, another terrible mistake is taking the shortness of previous Call of Duty titles as some sort of challenge and inventing the shortest campaign ever known to man, coming in at a maximum play time of roughly an hour and five minutes. That's not even a quarter of MW3's estimated single player time! Just because a game is a handheld game doesn't mean it can't take cues from console games or elongated campaigns- but apparently Nihilistic Software didn't learn that in Developing Games 101... There is also a time trial mode to try your hand at, but it isn't much of a time killer either, considering it takes roughly two minutes to complete each challenge and they are so antagonistically unoriginal that it pains me just to watch. The final single player/multiplayer/cooperative hybrid is the 'survival/horde' mode rip off that is as annoyingly lacking in the fun and intriguing category as the other two modes, if not more so. Overall, if you do buy this heinous excuse for a game for whatever odd reason, just skip over the single player and modes other than multiplayer. You'll thank me.
The true shame comes in what is definitely this terribly flawed little game's best and tightest mechanic: shooting. While obviously it won't be as tight or responsive as the console brethren it looks way up to, shooting and aiming down both iron sights and scopes feels much smoother than other mechanics involved in the combat, and is actually a refreshing break from the suckiness as well. Of course, this is easily countered by the clunky grenade throwing mechanic (woot, touch screen usage that sucks!) and constant annoyance of having unsteady aim no matter how still you are whilst sniping. See, even it's few victories are incredibly short lived, if you can even call them victories to begin with. If the game was anything other than trash, the controls would be easily acceptable, but sadly that is not the case at all. Although I said avoid the single player and go for the multiplayer in this title, that probably isn't such a great idea either- and let me explain why.
Far from being it's savior and pulling user scores back up a tad bit, Declassified's online multiplayer is just as flawed as the single player and other game types. Although it has only been out shortly, it is nearly impossible to connect to online matches at all, and when you are (by the grace of a higher being, I suppose) able to do the improbable and connect, there are so many glitches and framerate issues that you are essentially either booted out or forced to quit. If you download the day two patch, you can possibly connect more often (honestly it didn't work for me) but the kicking issue now sends you to an inescapable screen and forces you to reboot quickly. On the somewhat bright side (truthfully, the less dark side actually) the multiplayer has a watered down version of skills, streaks, customization, and other options to employ as well- but these only caught my attention briefly, as they are nothing we haven't already seen. Even the maps themselves seem to be smaller, which is an incredible disappointment in the already tense firefights and small maps CoD is known for. Imagine how small Nuke Town was, and then cut it in half- now you have the majority of Declassified's maps, minus the cool looks, as they all look generic and uninspired to boot. Overall, Declassified completely fails in every single mission. If this were Mass effect, your entire squad, the galaxy, and the whole of the cosmos would have been eliminated by an alien threat known as Terrible-Game-Itis.
Black Ops: Declassified doesn't even manage to live up to one aspect of the classic Call of Duty formula, much less becoming deserving of that title and trademark in any fashion. What amazes me is the fact that Nihilistic thought they could even churn out something such as this and scrape by on title and established fan base alone. Sadly, they picked the wrong system to try this on- as the GI poll here simply shows. (Only about 16% of people even have a Vita to begin with according to it.) This is just yet another disappointment in a thus far long line for the Vita, and means that I've wasted another paltry amount of money that will eventually add up to a sizable figure, which is equally disturbing. Casual players and die-hards alike beware- no matter how much you think you love FPS or CoD, you'll absolutely not enjoy this particular game. I can say that with certainty, and in all honesty, I probably gave it a higher score than it deserved. It brings me no pleasure to bash a game in a review for the majority of the writing, but somebody has to say the words in order to spread the news, and there is not only hardly anything good to be praised within this game, but it will have saved you some money in the very least by not having purchased such a train wreck...
Concept: Create a title based on name alone, but without any of the trademark quality or responsiveness accompanying it.
Graphics: Everything is generic and forgettable, and nothing looks even remotely interesting or well-rendered in the slightest.
Sound: What sound? All I heard the entire time was a constant string of profanities. "Oh f**k, I jumped out of a chopper. Oh f**k, I shot that guy. Oh f**k..." Come on, seriously?
Playability: Surprisingly, with a few flaws, the controls actually somewhat work I guess. Funny, because they are about the only thing Nihilistic managed to get right.
Entertainment: Quite literally, there is none whatsoever.
Replay Value: Low
Overall Score: 2.25
Note: I'm sad to say, but I do believe this is the lowest review rating that I have ever given to a game for the duration of my GIO reviewing career. It's a shame that it had to be a game that was in some way related to such a usually spectacular series, but that's just how things are sometimes...
Great game, TERRIBLE review.