Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops

Alongside the juggernaut console versions of Call of Duty Black Ops that have led the sales charts since release comes a version for the Nintendo DS. This one didn’t get the attention of its console brethren, which is too bad because it is a better game.

The Hype:
– Seventh installment of the Call of Duty series, based on the live fire conflicts of the Cold War era
– Diverse variety of play settings ranging from urban air and ground combat in SE Asia, to snow combat in Soviet region and jungle combat
– Blending of traditional COD, and new first-person character scenarios designed to both retain the essence of the COD gaming experience and ensure constantly flowing and varied action

– New arsenal of weapons and vehicles tied to the Cold War era, including the SR-71 Blackbird and sited explosive-tipped crossbows

The Reality:

I’m sure that I just sent some folks reeling, so let me provide some context. The PC version I played is ultra-short, totally linear, has ghost-spawning worse than any game in recent memory, is as close to ‘on rails’ as you can get while still offering movement controls, and has absolutely no replayability in single player. Here are some comments I made in my review:

“To me, Call of Duty: Black Ops is more or less like Madden NFL 2011 – it is pretty much the same as last year’s game, but has enough tweaks to give a feeling of a refresh without feeling foreign. It is tailor-made for the faithful followers, those who are built-in fans – and that is the case for a reason: they are OK with a four-hour campaign, will dive right into multiplayer … and most importantly will be there coughing up real money for DLC on a regular basis,ensuring EA of a regular revenue stream right up until the next game in the series launches in a year.”

For me the Nintendo DS is a joy when it comes to playing FPS games. Whereas I always struggle with the virtual controls of the iPhone/iPad and the inadequate controls of the PSP, the DS allows for motion, aiming, and snap-turns that you can’t find outside of the PC … and since so many games are made with generic controls to fit on the PC as well as consoles, I have found that the DS occasionally gives the best traditional FPS feel for a game.

Specific to Call of Duty: Black Ops, what you get is not so much the cinematic approach as a more traditional FPS in the earlier Call of Duty tradition. You can accomplish things your own way to an extent without being so completely constrained, but this is still a Call of Duty game and so your options are limited. You are working on specific objectives for each mission, which are similarly set out as the ones in the console game. But if you choose to provide cover rather than taking point in the Cuba missions, as an example, you won’t insta-die.

The graphics are likely to be an issue for many as they don’t seem to have improved much since the first Modern Warfare game hit the DS a couple of years ago. They are functional and keep everything going along without any performance issues regardless of activity, but still … it seems they could have done a bit better. There are still issues with not being able to see enemies due to color palette and low resolutions.

The single player campaign is comprised of 16 missions that encompass pretty much the entire scope of the console game, with visits to Cuba and Vietnam and the Soviet Union, as well as missions in vehicles such as helicopters, boats and fighter jets. It is a thrilling game that is still just way too short and is over entirely too soon.

Of course, that is where multiplayer steps in! Amazingly you can have up to 6 players with the ability to have a list of 64 friends! There are many of the same modes available as in the console version, including the much-loved Zombies game for the first time on the DS! This mode is a solo or co-op set of maps you can play offline or online, and is loads of fun.

The core multiplayer modes and features are present on the DS, including perks, selectable spawn points, the ability to change your primary and secondary weapon at each spawn, ability to join a game in progress, and so on. There are more than a dozen different maps available. Voice chat is available in friend matches and local games, but not available for online matches. The game also brings back the arcade and challenge modes, which are also present in the console version.

The DS version of Call of Duty Black Ops is priced at $30, half what the PC and console version costs. For that money you get a campaign that is every bit as long (with fewer cutscenes), offers better controls and more of a sense of freedom, and some great multiplayer options. While I still prefer my shooter games to be more open, I appreciate everything that went into making this DS game – and very much appreciate the ability to move around a bit and not be constantly constrained to following an exact path through the game. While some might find it stunning, I absolutely enjoyed this DS game much more than I did the so-called ‘full version’ I played on the PC and recommend that DS shooter fans give it a shot.

Review: Call of Duty Black Ops

Where to Buy:

Price: $29.99

What I Like: Greater sense of freedom; Great use of touch screen; Snap-turn control is awesome; Fun combat with loads of weapons

What Needs Improvement: Graphics don’t seem to have progressed much since the first Modern Warfare DS game; Still WAY too short

Source: Review copy provided by publisher. Originally reviewed for VGBlogger

Categories: Gaming, Reviews

Tags: ,

6 replies

  1. Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops | Gear Diary

  2. Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops | Gear Diary: Here are some comments I made in my review: “To me…

  3. Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops | Gear Diary: Alongside the juggernaut console versions of Call …

  4. Console Game News – Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops | Gear Diary W00T!

  5. News, everyone! Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops | Gear Diary: Alongside the juggernaut console v…

  6. RT @GearDiarySite: Nintendo DS Game Review: Call of Duty Black Ops