Black Ops Declassified is a Call of Duty game minus the spectacle. And for a series that has placed almost all of its energy into developing spectacle over the past few years - the snowmobile leaps over famished ravines, the horseback charges into tank fortresses, the collapse of the Eiffel Tower - this leaves us with something of a flaccid anachronism, one that exposes the tired heart beneath the bluster.
Of course, for some, the set-piece has destroyed the first-person shooter in recent years: an invasion of Hollywood showmanship that has robbed soldiering games of their flexibility and tactical breadth in favour of a tightly controlled pyrotechnical show. But while Black Ops Declassified casts out the set-piece (or, more truthfully, hasn't the budget to pay for it), the game maintains the underlying Call of Duty format: a series of unyielding play corridors that must be trudged through en route to the mission's exit - an exit that isn't punctuated by nuclear explosions or toppling landmarks.
Nevertheless, it would be dishonest for any critic to breathlessly praise its heavyweight PC and console brother, Black Ops 2, for its vainglory before gasping in indignation at this handheld expansion to the fiction. Black Ops Declassified may be short, it may be devoid of spectacle, it may be missing that spark of creative life force that keeps the annual routine of Call of Duty games from truly stagnating - but the two games undeniably share a soul and a structure.
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, the colon-filled PlayStation Vita version of Activision's shooter, will be available to download today from the EU PlayStation Store. It costs £44.99.
Nihilistic, developer of the PlayStation Vita version of Call of Duty: Black Ops, has ditched retail boxed games and rebranded.
The PlayStation Vita Call of Duty game Black Ops Declassified does not have the series' popular Zombies mode, Activision has confirmed.
Sony engineers are working to reduce the cost of manufacturing the PS Vita so it can cut the price of the handheld - but that price cut won't happen this year.
It's Call of Duty, and it's on a Vita. After a slow start, Sony are likely hoping that combination alone will give the handheld the boost it so desperately needs, but a glimpse at Black Ops Declassified gives some indication of why it's taken over a year for a serious look at the game.
Call of Duty's always been a game that's spartan with its looks, the run-down shanties and sprawling complexes all being smoothed over by that trademark 60fps refresh rate. That's not a feature of the Vita version, which is no real surprise - but what's left behind looks far from appealing.
Shattered, one of six multiplayer maps that's available, is a mess of rubble, overturned cars and bombed out buildings, a central alleyway running down the spine of the map. Without that frame rate, and with only eight players ever able to run through its corridors and cramped spaces, it's a bleak looking affair.
Activision Leeds, the newly-founded UK studio that will develop Call of Duty mobile games, is to first launch a revamp of '80s classic Pitfall.
Activision's new UK studio will take charge of all Call of Duty games for handheld platforms, a new report suggests.
The first few morsels of info about Vita shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified (yep, twin colons set our teeth on edge too) have found their way on to the web.
According to a Walmart product listing, as spotted on NeoGAF, the game will feature an all new story, boast a strong focus on Spec Ops missions and be optimised for portable play.
Here's the description blurb in full: