Game review: Blood & Truth (PlayStation VR)
Long on my VR wants list has been a bona fide AAA game that take full advantage of the room-scale experience of the technology. The London Heist from the PSVR launch title, VR Worlds, was a start, giving players a part in a gritty gangster VR game. The biggest advantage of VR over traditional flat games is the ability for developers to totally immerse players in their game world.
The potential of VR as a storytelling medium has been drastically underutilised, especially in a full-length game. VR allows players to actually be on the movie-set, acting out a part in the story alongside the other characters, rather than just being a puppeteer observing the in-game action on a TV.
Blood & Truth sucks you right into its world - lock, stock and barrel. Players take on the role of Ryan Marks, a British SAS soldier posted to the Middle-East, with an extremely dodgy family back home in London, England.
The game starts with Marks infiltrating an enemy stronghold. The mission is cut short to inform him that his father has passed away - his father being the patriarch of a London crime family.
Quick-sharp he’s on his way back to London’s East End to join his grieving brother, sister and mother. With his father only just planted in the ground, in swaggers rival cockney gangster, Tony Sharp, taking the family’s business off their hands at gunpoint.
At the start of the game, many of the situations are flashbacks, with Marks is being interrogated by a CIA Agent called Carson (played by notable British thesp, Colin Salmond). As the game progresses, it becomes clear that the CIA’s involvement means that there’s much more going on than a spat between London hoodlums. With this, the plot shifts from just being a cockney crime caper, like The London Heist, into something a little more James Bond-esque.
The game’s story is top stuff. If you are a fan of the likes of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, you are going to like this. The overplayed cockney geezer-antics are borderline comedy and the East End of the game is more a fantasy that a real-life depiction. But, just as it does in the movies, it works in the game.
The game is best experienced with PlayStation Move controllers. Whilst a DualShock is supported, you are really not going to get the best from the game using it. Blood & Truth is very much about getting players interacting with the 3D VR world around them.
The most common of those interactions is in spraying lead all over bad guys. With the PSVR headset on, looking down you can see a holster on each hip, and an ammo belt across your chest. As you progress in the game you obtain pistols for those two holsters (yes you can hold two at a time for some John Woo-style akimbo gunplay), sawn-off shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles and even a grenade launcher. Reloading is carried out by pressing the Move button near your chest to grab a clip/rounds for inserting into your weapon. Larger guns are, naturally, stowed over your shoulder.
Movement, which is always a tricky one for VR developers (get it wrong and your audience will go green with VR sickness), but for Blood & Truth they’ve have done it right. The game is more about immersion, gunfights and interacting with the environment than amazing acts of locomotion. The game uses a point-to-point movement system that, for the most part, means moving from cover location to cover location.
Players can also strafe between the pre-determined points. It plays a lot better than it sounds, allowing players to concentrate on fun things little shooting bad guys rather than tying their fingers in knots. When charged, players press both Move buttons and enter focus mode, slowing down time and cranking the action all the way up to eleven. Blood & Truth WILL make you feel like an action hero.
Throughout the levels there are bonus targets that can be hit. These earn stars with can be spent upgrading weapons in your safe house. The safe house also features a shooting gallery and your trophy cabinet displaying the collectables gained in-game. There’s a lot of replay value to be had revisiting levels with an improved arsenal.
As well as shooting, those Move controllers also get to use picking locks and arming explosives. Picking locks involves actually pushing up the pins and turning the barrel. There are also screws that need unscrewing, wires that need cutting and buttons that need pressing. There’s also the odd climbing opportunity. But you can still do all this whilst sitting down, so no need to jump around or clear the lounge for a quick go.
The game looks and sounds great. There are the usual VR shortcomings, with the lower resolution of the PSVR compared to a 4K TV, but the sense of immersion, standing there next to the characters more than makes up for it. Snappy, if a little over-the-top, cheeky cockney dialogue is complemented by some good character-acting, adding to that uniquely VR experience.
In Blood & Truth, SIE London Studios have done an amazing job in creating a true, full-length AAA VR title. It has all the polish and slick gameplay that you’d expect from a Sony PlayStation exclusive. The developers have expertly exploited the benefits of VR whilst doing a great job of mitigating its challenges. I for one hope that this is just the first of a number similarly polished PSVR games that we see in the future.