I recently entered a world of old lags, muppets and geezers for a trip to the East-End London with PlayStation AU and their up-coming PSVR game, Blood & Truth.
Blood & Truth comes to us from SIE London Studio, the same developers that knocked out the VR Worlds anthology title for PSVR. The new game is an extension of their acclaimed The London Heist sequence that was the highlight of VR Worlds.
The Lord Dudley is one of Sydney’s most unashamedly British pubs. A fitting location for the game preview. Back in the day I can imagine it being the sort of drinking establishment whereby punters enter through the door, but leave through the window.
As I crossed the threshold, a moody-looking fella in a sharp suit placed a tattooed hand on my chest and demanded, “Password”. Thankfully, I’d been briefed about this, likely saving myself from a proper hiding round the back, by stating, “Apples and pears”. With a silent nod of acknowledgement, the doorman gestured towards the stairs leading to the event.
The most impressive thing I find with VR is the hardest to explain. As much as your AAA gaming experiences draw you into their amazing worlds, you are never actually IN those amazing worlds, you are still just an observer. VR takes players, literately, into the game, becoming as much a part of the game world as the elements around them.
Blood & Truth is a “room-scale” VR experience that casts players in role of Ryan Marks, a former British SAS operative. He has returned home to London only to become embroiled in his family’s gangland dealings. This violent underworld has been created at 1:1 scale to immerse players right into the thick of the action.
If you are familiar with Guy Ritchie films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, you are on the right track. This is a game chock-full of violent Cockney villains, so expect loads of tasty-looking, tooled-up geezers, lots of swearing and comedy East-End accents.
I sat down for some hands-on with a fifteen-minute sequence from the game. With the VR headset in place I was handed a couple of PlayStation Move controllers. Looking down, there were holsters either side of my waist and an ammo belt across my chest holding a spare clip. In my left hand (curiously, as I’d not told the game I was left handed) was a pistol. I was able to “throw” the handgun from one hand to the other.
A tutorial showed me the basics of the game. For movement, Blood & Truth swaps out teleporting or stomach-churning smooth motion for a more manageable move-to-cover system. Perfect for VR, it allows players to concentrate on shooting stuff rather than running into walls. It’s kind of like Time Crisis, but not quite so on-rails. Players have a choice of cover locations and can freely move back and forth.
Reloading is carried out by stuffing clips into your weapons from your ammo belt. You can stow your sidearms in your holsters and pickup/put away your larger guns over your shoulder. Using the Move controllers for your guns is slick and very polished. When the bar is full, pressing the two Move buttons on the controller’s triggers focus-mode, slowing down time, but more on that later.
After completing the target-shooting tutorial, the game dropped me in a back alley, somewhere in London’s East-End, judging from the Cockney accents of the mouthy tooled-up thugs in front of me. Moving forward I came face-to-face with one of the gun-toting oiks. He discharged an expletive-ridden warning to his fellow muppets. Before he had a chance to fire, I was off, moving between the cars, like an action hero, unloading the contents of my gun into their ugly mugs.
Pausing that for a minute, Blood & Truth, places you right there in a near flawless recreation of East London. It’s like standing on a movie set. The cars, the buildings, even the ground, 100% immersing you into the game world. As fun as the gunplay is, it’s the experience, the sense of actually being right there in the game, that gets you.
Whilst I hail from the south-east of England, I’m no Cockney. Truth be known, I was born closer to France, for my sins, than the sound of Bow bells. But I’ve most certainly spent a bit of my youth in and around the part of the world that Blood & Truth resides. I can tell you this, SIE London Studio have the game’s design aesthetics down to a tee.
Back to the game preview.
Whilst I was unable to pick-up my opponents firearms. Someone did leave a grenade lying about, which was nice of them. Tossing grenades adds to the mayhem in the game and gives players plenty of opportunity to park their Move controllers in their TV screens.
Remember those two holsters? Well, yep, you can use two handguns for some very satisfying akimbo gunplay. As I progressed, I came across and assault rifle, SMG and my personal favourite, and very fitting for the genre, a sawn-off shotgun.
As if blowing holes in gangsters with a shotgun wasn’t fun enough, triggering focus mode slowed everything down. It allowed me to target, fire twice, throw a couple of shells in the air catch them in the gun, cock it and do it all again. Blood & Truth does all it can to unleash your inner action hero.
If this was 2D, I’d agree that all this is a bit of shooting gallery, but in VR you are actually aiming and firing the gun. I even aimed though the sight of an assault rifle to pop a wine bottle. Enemies are coming at you from all over the place and they seem like they are really there shooting, shouting and swearing at you.
The demonstration continued with me approaching a tower block that looked like it was being prepared for demolition. Having taken out the guards lurking atop some scaffolding at the entrance, in an explosive fashion, I needed to gain access to the door. Using the Move controller as a screwdriver, I unscrewed a panel, inserted a fuse and flipped a switch, opening the door.
As I continued through the tower the game introduced a few more mechanics, such as climbing (including a huge climb up the outside of the building), breaking down doors and picking locks. Again, using your Move controllers, you need to actually manipulate the pins in barrel locks to unlock doors.
As the demo came to a close, Marks reached his destination- his imprisoned, feisty mother, handcuffed to a pipe and enclosed in electrified rebar. Mrs. Marks was none too pleased to see her little boy, and even less impressed by his potty-mouth.
This final sequence was the only NPC interaction in the game preview. But it bodes well for the rest of the game. Ryan’s mum offered the same sharp character acting as that of The London Heist, which is exactly what the game needs to round it off.
From my brief look at Blood & Truth, it certainly seems to be the extension of VR World’s The London Heist that we’ve been after. The London gangland setting is ripe for an eight-hour immersive VR experience. With interactive diversions such as lock-picking punctuating the very refined gunplay, this may be a PSVR game to watch out for when it releases on 29th of May 2019.