Though it was largely a bundle of smaller games or tech demos, VR Worlds was a peek into the kinds of experiences that PlayStation VR could offer, and one part of this in particular stood out: The London Heist. This cockney accented gangster story of shoot outs and deception was just begging to be made into a full on action experience, and its all too short playing time left people wanting more. Thankfully, Sony and London Studio agreed, and Blood & Truth really feels like a spiritual sequel of sorts.
While it’s still set in London, it’s filled with a brand new cast of characters, that do lean away from the cockney geezer side of things, but doesn’t take you too far away. You play as Ryan Marks, a special forces operative who comes back to the UK when his family are threatened by a crime boss. This understandably touches a nerve and Ryan vows to take the entire organisation down. It’s a set up that allows London Studio to take inspirations from every action film in the last 50 years, from James Bond through to Taken, Die Hard and plenty more.
The section of a level we got to play at Paris Games Week had me trying to track down a mid-level gangster named Keech in the casino he runs, taking the opportunity to cut off another part of the criminal empire in the process… by blowing the casino up with C4 presumably borrowed from the British military. Certainly, this isn’t an action game that takes itself too seriously, as Ryan calmly chats to his mum before venturing in himself, just to double check that she knows how to place and arm the C4 herself. As you do.
Getting around the world is pretty simple, as you look at a highlighted point in the world and press in the Move button on the controller, smoothly moving you there. At times this is a pretty linear system, but you might have half a dozen points that you can shift to in the larger areas, and you’ve also got the ability to strafe from cover to cover with the little X and O buttons on the Move.
There’s a pleasing degree of physical interaction with the world as well, such as when standing at the bottom of a ladder and pulling yourself up rung by rung, or going full on John McLane and lifting yourself into a set of vents before slowly dragging yourself through them to another room. One moment, you’ll be fiddling with the buttons and controls of a CCTV system, trying to keep an eye on Keech as you wanders through his casino, the next you’ll spot some paper balls and a mini basketball net to try and chuck them through.
In fact, there’s lots of silly things in the game that London Studio cater to. You can pull your gun out of its holster – a satisfying little touch – and then spin it on your finger, you can throw a clip up in the air and then hit it with your gun to reload, and it goes beyond that to the slightly unintended. I soon discovered that you can keep on firing while spinning the gun, and then wondered if I could shoot myself in the head. You can, but being tough special ops chap, it was little more than a temporary flesh wound. Sadly, there were also the minor omissions, like not being able to push or shoot an elevator’s buttons to trigger them.
Though this was primarily an action mission, there’s plenty of opportunity to stealth your way through it as well. Opening out onto the casino floor, you can plant a ton of C4 around the place – itself a rather satisfying sequence of interactions – trying not to get spotted and taking out guards with your silenced pistol. Alternatively, go in gun blazing and play it like a VR light gun game, albeit being able to pick your own pieces of cover. It’s up to you to lean out of cover, line up the sights and gun down the hired goons and gangsters, and taking pot shots at the enemy as you break from one piece of cover to the next and intermittently planting C4 feels simply awesome.
Then there’s a chase scene as you find and follow Keech through the hallways of the casino, with gun toting muscle popping out of doorways and running to try and defend him. There’s some wonderfully cheesy Goldeneye 64 combat rolls that they pull, which put a stupid smile on my face, and shooting fire extinguishers would slow the game down for a few moments with bullet time letting you take your time and take out the enemies surrounding you.
Catching up to Keech and we see some of the same cinematic character moments that The London Heist put you in so well. Interrogating him for information, it’s up to you how far you take things. Do you stick to just putting a warning shot past his head, or take things further by shooting him in the leg? I even heard that you can point blank kill him.
Blood & Truth is shaping up quite excellently, building on the foundations of the short but sweet The London Heist and really living up to the potential that it showed. It’s great to see London Studio leading the way and showing just what PlayStation VR is capable of.