Have you ever thought to yourself that John Wick would make for a pretty neat video game? There’s a balletic beauty to the mastery of his gun-wielding that’d make any dyed in the wool American pick-up driver red, white and blow all over his Second Amendment.
Back when I first bought my PlayStation VR there were two things that sold me on it. The first was knowing I’d scare the life out of those I cared about with the shark attack demo and the other was getting to pretend, if only for a short while, that I was that gun-toting psychopath in London Studio’s love letter to cockney gangster films, London Heist.
Now imagine London Heist ratcheted up to eleven on the blow your balls off scale and you’ve got Blood and Truth, the studio’s follow-up that combines that same gritty, underbelly tone with the glamorous espionage of someone like James Bond. Its predecessor featured one of the most gripping car chases in gaming and based on the one sliver of Blood and Truth I played, this spiritual sequel has it covered by the length of Flemington straight in terms of explosiveness.While London Heist was a short-lived and static experience, Blood and Truth promises to involve the player far more, giving them a bit of agency over their character’s actions. The game doesn’t use proper locomotion to get around, though it doesn’t resort to blink transportation either. It avoids the immersion-breaking pitfall of blink movement by elegantly having the player look at the surroundings for an available cover option and then, once they select it, the camera automatically dollies into the new position. Given the limitations the medium is still battling, London Studio has concocted the best way to navigate a realistic VR world without the gut-punch of unrealistic instant-transportation which, in an action game as bold and unrelenting as this, would have been a big shame. Of course, a DualShock could easily solve the movement issue but at the cost of that brutal, real gunslinger feeling that’s all too important for this experience.
It’s a tightrope, for sure. But I am comfortable saying London Studio has settled on the most immersive scheme available to them.It’s not all about blowing stuff up in Blood and Truth. Start to finish blunt trauma worked well for London Heist but that wasn’t a six-hour game, like this, so those tasked with crafting this into a well-paced Guy Ritchie feature knew it couldn’t emulate previous efforts. Opportunities for stealth, lock-picking and other non-gun related criminal activity will crop up from time to time granting a quick moment to rest that trigger finger, but I didn’t see much of that in my play session. I did squander a chance to sneak in and out like a demon’s whisper, but I got over that once I started firing lead across the casino floor.
Thanks to the Move controllers, the gun-handling in Blood and Truth is so on point. Players returning from London Heist will know exactly what to expect from the experience. It sounds slightly unhinged but emptying clip after clip into these gangland figures is the most satisfying thing I’ve done on PlayStation VR. London Studio has literally made it a feature that you can gingerly rest a fresh clip on the stock of your handgun, fling it into the air and reload it in mid-air. It took me a minute of solid fiddling to nail it finally but it was bonkers when I did. If I ever pull it off mid-firefight I might very well soil myself.
A brief moment of downtime in an elevator gifted the developer with me a chance to inform me they’d included gun tricks. Ever the showman, I welcomed his offer to walk me through it.By holding down triangle with your gun-hand Move controller, the in-game avatar’s hand loosens its grip on the gun, letting it hang loosely on the index finger. As I began to swing the pistol around my finger I felt like an honest to God cowboy and it was too much for me to handle. During the demo’s climactic chase, which sees you pursue some poor soul who’s about to part with his kneecaps, I was a lone wolf wrecking machine.
Headshots became a frequent treat as my mastery of the controls strengthened, with a swift reload following each headshot. As I waited for the next duck to line up in the shooting gallery, I garishly spun the trigger guard around my finger. This is what it feels like to be John Wick in a video game. Graceful and precise. Of course, as it always does, shit hit the fan and I took a self-preserving dive out of a window. The demo ended as I tumbled in slow-motion as light impressively danced off of the glass shards that suspended in the air.
It’s power fantasy to the extreme as Blood and Truth ushers in the true second wave of PlayStation VR titles where they, at last, look to destroy the preconceived notion that only brief tech demos exist on the platform.
BRODIE FLEW TO LONDON AS A GUEST OF PLAYSTATION FOR THE PLAYSTATION VR SHOWCASE. BLOOD AND TRUTH IS DUE FOR RELEASE ON PLAYSTATION VR IN 2018.