Call of Duty: Black Ops
| Call of Duty: Black Ops

It's fair to say that the DS isn't the natural home of first-person shooters.

Fighting against the odds, though, developer n-space has assembled an impressive squad of portable Call of Duty titles for Nintendo's dual screen system.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized have all shown portable FPSs can work, and Black Ops is fortunately no exception.

In fact, it adds so many features to the series' armoury it's hard to tell where it can go next.

Controlling your line of fire

Two control methods are available. The PC-style use of the touchscreen to aim your weapon and the shoulder buttons to shoot is the most accurate method, but needs a steady hand and some patience to master.

The second involves using the face buttons to look and the D-pad to move, and works like the dual analogue controls of its home console brethren. It is more unwieldy and inaccurate than using the touchscreen, but is a genuinely useable alternative.

It took seconds of your time to take his life

The controls aren't the only challenge you'll face. The foes are not part of some glorified target shoot: they're remorseless killing machines. If you spend any longer than a couple of seconds within enemy sights you'll just be another casualty of war.

This means you have to grit your teeth and adapt a methodical approach to progress, no matter how much you want to dive in with guns blazing. You have more of an opportunity to be gung-ho in the missions which have allies fighting by your side, but in general Black Ops does not favour the brave.

Once you get used to the challenge (and you eventually do), you can start enjoying the globe-trotting plot, which just seems an excuse to allow you to explore a variety of exotic locales, such as Cuban bases, Vietnamese jungles, Afghan caves, and frosty Russian outposts.

Jetting away

More variety comes through levels where you commandeer fighter jets, trucks, and helicopters. These sections lack depth or any lasting challenge, but they're still a welcome change to charging down linear corridors.

The main downside of the campaign is the lack of originality, with many missions only reminding you of past CoD entries. Black Ops makes it very clear that the creative well for war shooters ran dry a long time ago.

Throw in the odd unclear objective, and the campaign can occasionally be a slog. For the most part, though, it's a solid and well paced adventure. Web of war The solo campaign will be a mere sidenote for many, though, with the game's online options being where the fiercest battles are fought. With options for team death-matches and co-operative play, as well as an improved ranking system, this is as complete a rendition of CoD's online mode as any DS player could hope for. There's little to no lag, and the maps are well designed and large enough to suit both attacking and defensive minded players. Players new to the game be warned, though - the majority of the online community show no mercy in making cannon fodder of the inexperienced. Final push Rounding off the package is a whole surplus of extras. The Zombie Survival mode (now a CoD staple), is here, as well as challenge, arcade and co-operative options for the campaign. It's hard to see what else could possibly have been crammed in So despite the alarming odds stacked against it, n-space seems to be the only developer left standing to wave the flag for portable first-person shooters on the DS. Here's hoping the studio's next move is to enlist the series into the 3DS battlefield.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

If you're willing to take the time to warm to its controls and general lack of originality, Black Ops has much to enjoy