The developer behind the portable version of gaming titan Call of Duty: Black Ops doesn't have an enviable task.

Developers N-Space have to find a way to deliver the Call of Duty experience, a game driven by bleeding-edge graphics, immersion and subtly-balanced controls, on a platform that isn't just lacking the muscle power, but has never really offered up a solid shooter experience.

And this isn't N-Space's first trip down this slippery slope. In 2009, the studio released Call of Duty: Mobilized for the DS, another "companion game" for another Call of Duty.

And it wasn't a bad attempt. It was a portable game that had its moments, but it still struggled to find a comfortable way for gamers to experience playing a first-person shooter on a DS.

It seems that N-Space got that, because this time around with Black Ops they've completely reworked the user interface and the way the game plays, adding a new control method that ignores the use of a stylus entirely.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work for me.

Activision assistant producer Mike Mejia said the button-only version of the game was meant to be very much like playing the original GoldenEye.


Players are meant to cradle the DS in one hand with a thumb on the direction pad. The directional pad controls movement. While the face buttons on the other side of the DS's screen control which way you are looking or aiming. Players fire by tapping the right shoulder button and can aim down the weapon by tapping the left shoulder button.

I played through a level called To the Motherland and found the controls very intuitive, but also, unfortunately, incredibly hand-cramping. For those of you who, like me, have an issue with the new controls, you can also go back to the control scheme found in Mobilized, which had you aiming with the stylus on the screen.

Black Ops for the DS will have its own story, though the levels will take place in the same hot zones as the console version of the game.


The two levels I played, To the Motherland and To the Rescue, took place in Russia and Cuba.

The Russian level included some nicely designed snow and fire effects. Using the game's sniper rifle allowed me to deliver insta-kill shots no matter where I hit an enemy, which I wasn't a big fan of.

The Cuban level had me controlling a a hind helicopter, using the left shoulder button to fire the machine guns and the right shoulder to fire missiles. Both had unlimited ammo and no cool down period, which seemed to make the level a bit too easy.


The game will include support for six players and more than six multiplayer maps and two-player coop play through both a local connection and WiFi.

The developers, Mejia said, are still trying to decide what multiplayer game modes to ship with Call of Duty: Black Ops DS.