If you played PSVR's launch game PlayStation VR Worlds, you may remember a little game on there called The London Heist, which was all about bloody cockneys shootin' up the gaff. Apparently among the rest of the games in the collection, a representative from Sony's London Studio told us that The London Heist was a game that fans were really wanting more of, so low and behold at Paris Game Week last year we saw the first announcement for VR shooter Blood & Truth, a spiritual successor that builds upon the solid foundations of The London Heist.
Where better to try the game out than in the English capital itself, which is exactly what we did recently during a PSVR Showcase event, where we sat down with some of the guys from London Studio and took a closer look at this new virtual adventure. They told us before we sat down that the aim was to make you feel like an action hero in a film like Die Hard, balancing intensity with moments of comic relief to try and replicate that rush you feel when you're a total badass.
The demo started with a very short tutorial, and it's worth outlining the format here. By using the Move button you can select certain points you want to move to on-screen, indicated via arrows on the ground, and with the triggers you can shoot and holster your weapon, which you'll need to do when using items. You may have noticed no mention of free movement or turning, which is because there isn't any. Instead, you'll shift between allocated locations in the environment and move using your body.
The story wasn't clear, but then again this demo wasn't about the story, but instead showing us how Blood & Truth will work mechanically. After the tutorial we snuck into a closed casino guarded by Jason Statham-sounding thugs while we crept about planting C4 charges, which required us to holster our weapon, before taking out the C4 and the detonator, assembling them, and pressing the button to arm it. We expected all this to be a fiddly affair but it was actually surprisingly simple, as the C4 kit comes up automatically and you only need to take what you need and put it together, so there's been real care made to ensure ease of access.
Your chest holster contains both your gun and your ammo, and so when we eventually got spotted by the goons we took our trusty silenced pistol out and started piling bullets into people like it was going out of fashion. We were impressed by how intuitive it all was, and after mere minutes we were grabbing extra ammo clips without even looking to reload our pistol, and we were slaying henchmen like a well-oiled killing machine.
Watching the other journalists play we came to realise just how immersive the cover was, as you'll often be leaning down (we played seated) and around cover to get your shots away, which is no doubt helped by the fact that every place you stand in has been created specifically by the designers. As such you'll be ducking and diving to avoid bullets and bad guys, so this is certainly a game you'll not want to be filmed playing... because you look silly from the outside.
Once the charges had been placed, the alarm raised, and the bad guys riddled with holes we walked forward to pay our friend a visit, the accountant the main villain in the game who was staying upstairs. We were moving from cover to cover to progress through the hallways, not being allowed to go further until all the enemies lay dead on the floor, and we had a realisation that this felt a lot like games such as Time Crisis, where movement was limited and you could only advance by killing all of your on-screen foes. In a sense this is a lot similar in format, but we guess there's a reason why games like Time Crisis were popular - it works, and it makes sure you have the optimal positions to take on the baddies.
Once we got into the room with our desired target a chase sequence was initiated, and here control of our movement was taken from us as we began to automatically chase after our target as stumbled and fumbled his way through the hallways. Obviously this required shooting the life out of anyone popping out the doorways hollering and firing at us, like some murderous theme park ride, but there were also cool little extras too. Shooting fire extinguishers, for example, exploded them and also sent the game into slow motion, meaning that you could throw clips into the air to catch them in your gun, or just make sure you popped some cool shots.
As an aside, there are other little extras that add to that action hero feeling, as you can balance a clip on your pistol, throw it up in the air, and catch it in your gun (if you're quick enough), and you can even twirl your pistol around your finger by holding triangle on the Move controller. It's clear that London Studio knows how to make the player feel like a badass, and all these added little tricks make a big difference when it comes to those epic moments you'll remember from shooters like this.
Once we caught up with the accountant we had a few dialogue choices to find out where his boss was, ranging from rough ("talk or I'll blow your head off" style) to slightly more sympathetic (letting him go and saying "take care of your family" after he begs for his life). If we haven't convinced you that this feels like an action film already, then the ending should do just that, as after we let him go a load of bad guys turned up, at which point we had to escape by jumping out the window, the action slowing down as shards of glass cascaded around us.
There's no doubt that not being able to move freely might not sit right with some people, as we've seen many a VR shooter deploy this effectively already, but it feels like London Studio's approach works. They're clearly trying to create a really tight and focused experience, where freedom of movement may actually be to the detriment. By catering to specific scenarios, like tailoring the best positions for cover and the running section that was peppered with fire extinguishers, the game makes sure you're in the best position to feel immersed in the action and gives you the best opportunity to enjoy those feel-good moments, placing the emphasis instead on the gun in your hand and the enemies that need a good shooting.
You'll probably have guessed at this point that we rather enjoyed Blood & Truth, and can't wait to see what other set pieces the team has lined up for us, which we expect will be filled with more cool moments and slow-motion action. We know that more weapons are available, like dual wield pistols for instance, but the real test will be to see if the game can maintain this momentum throughout, while also keeping the action interesting and varied. For now, though, this was a proper naughty demo, as a famous cockney once said.
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