Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified for Sony’s PS Vita was in real danger of becoming something of a mythical creature following its announcement earlier this year. With not a whole lot known about the game (other than it was a first-person shooter set in the Call of Duty: Black Ops universe), but a whole lot of intrigue and a whole lot more riding on its success, Declassified has finally revealed itself to become a much more known quantity.
Currently in development at Nihilistic, the singleplayer campaign of Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified is set between the events of Call of Duty: Black Ops and the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, while the online portion of the title is promised to included all of the hallmarks “that make Call of Duty multiplayer great.”
Activision’s associate product manager, Ryan Scott, took us on a whirlwind tour of the features of Black Ops – Declassified during gamescom 2012 to fill us in on the details.
The campaign will definitely be of interest to Call of Duty players as we’ll be able to discover the interim stories of Black Ops characters like Mason, Hudson and Woods as we follow the “dark years” leading up to the beginning of Black Ops 2.
The campaign, says Scott, is specifically “designed for the player on the go,” so if you’re sitting in transit from one place to another or killing time in-between doing something else, you’ll appreciate the objective-based missions that have been designed “in just the right way.”
Filling out the solo play in Black Ops – Declassified will be Time Trial and Survival Mission modes to test your skills against. No online leaderboard support was mentioned, but it’s probably a given knowing how connected the Vita can be (and how Activision and Nihilistic would want to allow players to challenge their friends).
The multiplayer of Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified was the real focus of our demo (“It’s what we do the best, it’s what our fans love the most, and we think we’ve really nailed it here,” said Scott) and we got to witness a two-versus-two Team Deathmatch game, all showcased on four big-screen monitors as the players engaged each other on their own PS Vita.
Declassified allows for four-versus-four matches over WiFi and will include six multiplayer maps out of the box with “all of the modes Call of Duty players expect,” with Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All, Kill Confirmed and a “host of other modes” mentioned.
Known features in Call of Duty circles were also specifically name-checked, with Create-a-Class (customise your player), Killstreaks (“for when you’re really kicking ass”), Perks, experience points and the Care package all mentioned. “You can even Prestige,” Scott confirmed.
Scott spent some time talking about how Nihilistic is using the specific features of the PS Vita to make playing Declassified that much easier, while the handheld device “just feels right” for Call of Duty players. With the console’s dual sticks, bumper buttons, familiar button layout and D-pad, Scott promises that if you’ve played a previous Call of Duty game, your skillset will transfer over to the Vita very well.
As for unique functionality, the front touchscreen can be used for throwing grenades – simply touch and hold the on-screen grenade icon to cook and throw an explosive. You can also swipe across the screen to any point in order to “directionalise” (Scott’s word) the throw of the grenade – touch, hold, swipe, release.
You can also tap on the touchscreen to execute a melee attack up close to an enemy, as well as touch on a Killstreak icon to initiate your ability (with Spy Plane and Mortar Strike Killstreaks the only ones confirmed for now). You can touch and hold the rear touchpad on the Vita while using a sniper rifle in the game to hold your breath for greater accuracy while aiming and shooting, too.
One last unique PS Vita feature brought up during the demo was that Black Ops – Declassified will make use of the handheld’s Near functionality for something called Share-a-Class – the ability to share your custom soldier loadout with a friend, even if that friend doesn’t have all of your weapon and equipment unlocks. A “Call of Duty first,” says Scott.
The action played we saw played out on a multiplayer map called ‘Shattered’ that Scott says is meant to be a bombed-out South-East Asian city, which includes opportunities for close-quarters battles as well as longer range skirmishes thanks to two large courtyard areas.
During the five minute multiplayer demonstration, and even with four players on a fairly large map, the action was quite intense and everything you would expect from a Call of Duty game. Killstreaks were racked up and used, gunfire rang out and grenade kills were the order of the day. Weapons such as a shotgun, the AK-47 U and FAMAS (with red dot sight) were spotted, and the players deftly showcased the ‘directionalisation’ of grenade throws.
Blown up on the larger monitors, I would equate the visuals of Black Ops – Declassified with something on the level of Call of Duty 2, but I would imagine that the game looks closer to the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when viewed natively on the Vita screen. Lots of great little graphical effects and on-screen movement more than make up for any deficiencies, too.
While our Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified demo was very quick, it provided a good taste of what you can expect from the game when it releases exclusively on PS Vita this November. While I don’t own a PS Vita, Declassified might just be the game to tip my interest scales (along with a few other titles) to give me access to a good range of experiences on the handheld. With a limited edition PS Vita/Declassified bundle on the cards, that might just be the way to go…
Here’s the debut trailer for the game to give you another idea of what it looks like in motion:
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified Trailer