Maybe this comes across as piling it on. After all, the Vita exclusive Black Ops Declassified came out in mid-November last year, and here I am in 2013 railing away on it. Sorry.
Even as a critic, one whose job it is to defend the consumer from corporate blight and developmental disasters, I feel for developer Nihilistic. Somewhere, at some time, Nihilistic had something here but the pieces that remain – of which there are few highlights – is utterly contemptible.
You cannot blame Nihilistic for this. Sure, their Resistance Vita title was a bomb, but Declassified has Call of Duty elements. With a tweak or two the sensitivity of the analog stick, this feels like an entry in Activision’s franchise. The gunplay works, and aiming down the sights has some of the kick found in the console iterations.
Unfortunately, recasting the engine to new hardware seems to be as far as Declassified made it during development. Enemy AI does not exist. They see you if they’re lucky, turn around, and fire straight forward. It does not matter if a wall or soon to explode car is there; they keep shooting because it is all they’re programmed to do. The hour or so of single player gameplay is filled with unintentional hilarity, like a narrative that tries to connect certain Black Ops dots and careless, small level design.
The heart though should be multiplayer, somewhere where the Vita thrives and gains traction. Let’s face it: Declassified is less relevant to the Call of Duty series and downright imperative to the Vita. I love this little machine, and seeing it treated like this with games twisting public perception is really a shame.
Here is how the multiplayer experience went: Spawn, dead. That was the second I was plopped into a game. Before I even fully aware that I was in a game, someone ran forward and blasted me with a shotgun. How not fun. The game continued with similar problems due to a hilariously small map size that does not allow for maps to flow, or players to work strategy. There is run ‘n gun style and there is spray ‘n pray. Declassified is the latter, assuming you have time to spray bullets. My first life may have been one second.
It is hard to express (moreso after that lashing) how much I wanted to like Declassified. Yes, the reviews were brutal, but I don’t mind glaringly short games, I enjoy high score runs, and tiny multiplayer maps tend to appeal to me. Somehow, this unfortunate marketing and corporate design philosophy disaster takes away some of my favorite things… and this is AFTER a 301MB patch. I can’t fathom how bad it was before.