Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a bombastic, technically accomplished first-person shooter for home consoles, so you may imagine that a translation of that experience to a seven-year-old piece of hardware with basic 3D processing and no analogue sticks, would be a rough one.

Not so, as Defiance manages to capture the spirit of its inspiration and provides a solid FPS that captures the spirit of its big brother, albeit with some tweaks to the formula that may turn off veterans of the series.

The reason it works well at all is that this is a side story to the campaign seen in Modern Warfare 3 proper, giving the developer a tone and setting to work with while at the same time excusing it from the high intensity action of the console versions.

The DS hardware simply isn't up to that challenge, so n-Space wisely sets much of its action in tight, drab environments to keep the animation smooth and somewhat excuse the murky textures.

Defiance isn't always a success in this regard. The framerate drops dramatically when the screen gets crowded with enemy soldiers. Models run awkwardly and physics are unconvincing at best, but the gameplay goes a long way to make up for this.

Low-spec, little spectacle

If you've played a Call Of Duty game before, then this is mostly that experience.

Defiance funnels you through a strictly determined route, with little room to explore or experiment. You'll quickly bring up iron sights to zone in on a target, fire a number of weapons at them, progress, wash, rinse, and repeat.

Without the spectacle of national monuments collapsing or nuclear weapons detonating, there's little to distract you from the repetition of this – besides a few mini-games of code-cracking and RC car driving – but it's faithful to the basics of the series.

When not peering down a rifle, you're looking through a high intensity telescope, providing air cover and tactical support for ground units from a high altitude bomber.

Again, if this sounds familiar, it's because it's lifted straight from the home releases, as are the sequences in which you're stood atop a moving vehicle, driving through a shooting gallery of Russian soldiers.

The title freely jumps from character to character making these differing play styles feel natural, maintaining the momentum of the piece. But this approach takes its toll on the story.

There's no time to develop any affinity for the military personnel you inhabit, which scuppers any potential for an emotional reaction at the inevitable, almost clichéd, Call Of Duty Player Death™ moment.

If you're here for the story then you'll leave disappointed. It doesn't progress anything in the Modern Warfare franchise - it just lends the universe a little more context.

Control takes practice, with two schemes to choose from. The first is a touchscreen setup in which the D-pad handles body movement and the stylus is used to point the reticle, allowing for finer movement but on occasion becoming twitchy.

The second removes the stylus from play and allows you to look around using the face buttons.

Hand-to-hand combat

The single player campaign is short - around three hours of main campaign with some criteria-based challenges thrown in for good measure.

It all feels like training for the comprehensive and far more robust multiplayer. Up to six players – either in the same room or online - can go head to head in deathmatch and team-based modes lifted straight from other versions of the game. A large selection of maps are on hand to keep things interesting, with few – if any – positions in which to camp and grief players.

There's no voice chat or any other form of communication, but this is a quibble when you're diving into ranked matches to cap friends and enemies alike, unlocking perks along the way. You'll still spawn and die within minutes, although its pace is slower than in the console versions, opening up a few more possibilities for those who prefer to set up shop and snipe.

Matchmaking seems fair, too, with balanced teams and opponents at your skill level filling the match. There are the same technical issues to be found in the solo content, but even so this is some of the most fun I've had with my DS online in a long time.

If you're after more Call Of Duty then Defiance is for you, as it's a very good approximation of what's available on console and PC. Movement is fiddly and the screen can get choppy - this isn't the late-game DS title to finally get first person shooters right - but the single-player is competent enough and the multiplayer deeper than you first realise.

It doesn't try to break the mould that Infinity Ward created, but by generally succeeding to place that style of play into your palms n-Space should be commended for yet another decent CoD handheld spin-off.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Defiance

It's not as extravagant, thrilling, or exciting as the main series it's based on, however frame rate and control issues aside, this is a good option for those who want a similar experience on the go