The creators of The Getaway and The London Heist have created the biggest budget PlayStation VR action game so far and it’s a real blast.
If there’s one thing Blood & Truth has taught us, it’s to have more empathy for action movie bad guys. Sony’s new VR game puts you in the role of a cinematic action star and that means you spend a lot of time dispatching hapless goons in a single carefree shot, as they stand there spraying your general direction with bullets and rarely getting anywhere near you. When it all looks as realistic as it does in VR you begin to pity them and even question what you’re doing. Until you get a go on a grenade launcher and say to hell with it.
Blood & Truth is the latest game from Sony’s London Studio, who were previously known for the GTA-esque The Getaway series and its spin-offs – including The London Heist section of PlayStation VR Worlds. The London Heist can now be seen as a proof of concept for a full-length game, although surprisingly Blood & Truth ditches the whole cockney gangster motif very early on and it quickly becomes clear that what the developer really wanted to do is make a James Bond game.
You play as one Ryan Marks, an ex-SAS soldier whose family run a London crime gang. The game is quick to gloss over what that actually involves, apparently keen not to paint anyone in too dubious a light. After a brief prologue in Afghanistan, you arrive home to find the family business forced into a hostile takeover by a rival firm and much of the rest of the game is told in flashback while you’re interrogated by a mysterious CIA operative.
Blood & Truth is primarily a first person shooter, with Ryan able to carry around two pistols and two larger guns at any time. He/you can dual wield, with guns retrieved either by moving down to grab them from your holster, or from behind your back, if using the Move controllers – with reloading achieved by grabbing ammo from a pouch on your chest and manually inserting the clip. You can play the game with a normal DualShock joypad, but as with most PlayStaton VR games the Move controllers are far more immersive, even if they can be rather twitchy and inaccurate.
When they work they work great though and aiming down the sights of a gun, so that you see the little holographic reticule, looks fantastic and is just one of the game’s near endless array of ‘wow’ moments. We don’t want to spoil all of those for you but some of our favourites include every time you use the slow motion mode – where muzzle flashes and bullet cases suddenly seem to hang in mid-air, a number of seemingly impossible jumps onto moving cranes and the like, and some fantastic car chases through the London streets.
The movement system works similarly to the standard teleport method, as you look where you want to move and then click a button to travel to that spot, but here you walk to the next position, instead of literally teleporting. It works fantastically well and there’s a great sense of physicality as you’re frequently made to climb ladders, clamber along monkey bars, or do a Bruce Willis impression while creeping through air vents.
While the game’s clearly not that interested in gangsters the portrayal of London is relatively authentic, from a familiar-looking skyline to one lengthy section set on a run-down block of flats, filled with heavily armed youths that keep referring to each other as ‘blood’. Although there are some exceptions (in particular the opening level, oddly) the graphics are stunning, and would be seen as such even if this wasn’t a VR game. But being able to turn around 360° at any time and stare up at huge buildings or a jumbo jet just overhead is absolutely breathtaking.
The human characters also look remarkably real, especially when the game keeps finding excuses for them to get right up in your face – to the point where you really feel you could reach out and touch them. The only technical drawback is the strangely primitive physics engine, which sees cars and motorbikes suddenly flipping into the air when shot as if yanked off screen by a wire.
The problem with the game is that while The London Heist was unashamedly a tech demo Blood & Truth often struggles to evolve beyond that. The story and characters are entirely inconsequential, and the gameplay lacks depth. In many situations you can start off stealthy, shooting enemies with silenced weapons in an attempt not to have anyone notice you. But it really doesn’t matter if they do because, as we already pointed out, they’re terrible shots and the Move controllers make it very easy for you to defeat most of them in a single burst of gunfire.
Strangely, we could find no way to unlock a hard mode and the game’s attempt to vary the gameplay through lockpicking and fuse-breaking mini-games are great adverts for VR but still extremely simplistic. Perhaps the biggest problem though is that the game never seems quite as atmospheric as the best parts of The London Heist. There are multiple variants of its car chase, but there’s no real equivalent of the initial pub meeting and the inevitable integration sequence is never as tense or unpredictable as the earlier game.
Part of that seems to be because of Blood & Truth’s attempt to turn itself into a James Bond game, but with no love interest and no real spying or infiltration it seems a slightly unfair trade. We’re also surprised there’s no melee combat, despite your two disembodied hands always being on screen and the trigger button turning them into fists. And yet still most complaints just melt away when you’re playing, as you crouch down behind a roulette wheel before physically jumping up to mow down enemies in a perfect recreation of Hollywood action logic and physics.
Despite the complaints, if you own PlayStation VR then this is an absolute must buy, purely for the spectacle. At around five or six hours long there’s not much replayability, outside of a challenge mode, but this is one of the most impressive VR action games we’ve ever played. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great game in itself but if you have the opportunity it’s one everyone should experience.
Blood & Truth
In Short: A blockbuster action movie in VR form that shows the abilities of PlayStation VR and Sony’s studios better than ever before, even if the experience is ultimately rather shallow.
Pros: Incredible visuals and immersion, not just in terms of the use of weapons but incidental actions like climbing and using your toolkit. Memorable set pieces and excellent control system.
Cons: Bland, silly, plot and characters. Often lacks the more brooding atmosphere and tension of The London Heist. Shallow and very easy.
Formats: PlayStation VR
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: London Studio
Release Date: 29th May 2019
Age Rating: 16
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