The two The London Heist virtual reality (VR) experiences showcased by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) prior to the release of the PlayStation VR hinted at bigger things to come. Eventually offered as part of London Studios’ PlayStation VR Worlds launch package, it seemed almost as though the immersive world established so early on wasn’t given a true opportunity to shine. Little did we know however, that this was far from the case, as London Studio continued to work on a fully fleshed-out London gangster VR experience, Blood & Truth.
Revealed as part of SIE’s Paris Games Week press conference, Blood & Truth has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated PlayStation VR titles amongst the core audience. It’s a first-person shooter (FPS) that aims to immerse the player within a story of crime and violence, taking on the role of a Special Forces veteran, Ryan Marks, with a score to settle against the perpetrators of organised crime.
Blood & Truth is a depiction of a gritty east-end underworld, but is somewhat cartoonised by ill-advised radio chatter. Marks will communicate with as-yet unseen characters automatically as the player progresses, offering a bigger picture to the story unfolding as well as hinting as to what the next objective might be. Sadly, Marks’ quips frequently fall flat and the world of chaos you are cast into begins to feel far less intimidating. This isn’t a case of James Bond’ing the situation with confidence and charisma as much as a Jonathon Ross impression of a smarmy university student.
Unsubtle character development aside, the forced conversation does help in the delivery of objectives without relying to heavily on on-screen prompts. The linear path the player treads is decorated with points of interaction and the videogame does well to establish a reason for each action through plot and direction. You’re climbing the ladder and crawling through that air duct for infiltration; you’re monitoring the video cameras to find your mark unguarded; you’re blowing up a casino floor because it’s owned by the bad guys; you’re killing hundreds of armed enemies because they are the bad guys.
All of this is conducted with a very simple control system on two PlayStation Move motion-controllers. The player will see highlighted circles upon the floor (including an arrow to determine the direction they will be facing upon arrival) and can move between them using the large Move button on either controller; despite the system sounding similar to the Oculus Rift exclusive ARKTIKA.1, there is no fade between movement with the player forcibly walked between locations. Once locked into a position the player can strafe along a cover surface should one be available by using a face button (located left or right of the central Move button in relation to the strafing direction) or interact with objects using the motion detection of the controllers.
While the nature of the movement system and the linear level design may make Blood & Truth sound fairly pedestrian, the preview build available to VRFocus was heavy on action. After the stealth-advised introduction every scene was heavy on numbers of armed enemies and the player is encouraged to regular move and strafe in order to take advantage of cover, especially when you remain able to look and shoot independently while moving.
Coming to the end of the preview build VRFocus was offered the first taste of dialogue options set to feature in Blood & Truth. While much deeper examination is required to determine what effect (if any) different decisions will have on the gameplay later in the videogame, given the choice between aggression or compassion was interesting; especially when it’s altogether possible to ignore this completely and go straight for the kill. It would be strange to provide such a series of decisions for the player without having a recompense later, but London Studios are still keeping that information under wraps.
At present Blood & Truth is something of a mixed bag. It’s great to see The London Heist given an opportunity to return players to the gritty world it created and offer that same level of immersion in a fantastic looking depiction of London once again, however it’s difficult to escape the feeling that the need to target mass market audiences has resulted in a protagonist more Broadchurch than The Krays. The locomotion system will undoubtedly deter the core audience but is perfectly welcoming to newcomers, and by the time Blood & Truth launches next year there is a great expectation that PlayStation VR will have more of the latter than the former.
There’s still a long way to go until we get to see more of what Blood & Truth can offer, and whether the gameplay loop presented here can be equally as entertaining when stretched out over several hours opposed to a simple 10 minutes demonstration. Of course, VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on Blood & Truth along the way.