The biggest compliment I can pay Blood and Truth is that playing it in a crowded office I could hear the laughter and baffled remarks of people as they wandered by, and it didn't matter. I still felt like a badass, hitting my chest to grab ammo to reload my weapon, stretching out my arms to climbs through vents as ex-special forces macho man Ryan Marks.
The game is a first-person shooter that feels very British, with a story woven around the machinations of gangsters and conspiracies. The acting - with a few recognizable faces like Resident Evil's Colin Salmon - and setting were convincing enough to make me homesick for a certain fictional London of the late 90s, all cockney accents - even if you lived in a nice suburb of Surrey - and Guy Ritchie movies.
Lock, stock and two smoking Move controllers
But of course what matters with any shooter is how it feels, and the answer with Blood and Truth is pretty damn good. You start out with a single pistol, but you're soon dual-wielding and progressing to bigger firepower like shotguns and sniper rifles. Classically, all of them can be modded in the safehouses you visit between missions, and ammo is thrown liberally around levels for you to collect.
So far, so standard shooter, but Blood and Truth has the extra challenge of making them feel good even as your arms flail and friends/pets laugh at you. You have to reach to your chest for ammo and slot the magazine into your weapon - a move that always made me feel like a lady John Wick - and reach behind your shoulder to pull out bigger guns. At times you'll also need to holster your guns at your hips. The physical movement turns every shoot-out, from picking off the odd goon in a ruined tower, to fighting a whole gang in a casino, a literally heart-pounding activity, as you scrabble to reload and aim and stay alive.
To break it all up and stop it feel like some sort of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels shooting gallery at the local arcade, there are times you're using your hands for things other than murder. There's lock-picking, setting charges, climbing ladders and general fiddling around with things. At one point you get to fly a drone, briefly, and there are plenty of things to find and collect in the different levels. Just to you really know the game is being released in 2019, one of the collectibles is various flavors of vape.
Plus, the game isn't not too proud to have some fun with that big old headset. One section, where you're exploring an art gallery, cheekily shoehorns in some nice VR moments for the maximum wow factor. Lots of floaty lights, some pretty sounds, and an exhibition of mannequins put there purely to scare the bejeesus out of you for a laugh. In another, you're distracting enemies by doing you're best Diplo impression in a DJ booth, complete with pyrotechnics and vinyl to scratch.
But it's a double-edged sword, this virtual reality business. The only times Blood & Truth gets frustrating is when it's let down by the technology. The fast-pace and accuracy required of a satisfying shoot-out means that when the PSVR fails to register a shot or a reload or leaves you fumbling at your holster, it's not just irritating, it's fatal. When the calibration goes haywire and starts thinking your hands are your elbows, simple tasks like making it across monkey bars becomes like a rejected Black Mirror episode. More than once, despite having a pretty ideal VR-gaming scenario, I had to just give up and restart the whole game, shattering the illusion, and my immersion, all at once.
Technical issues aside, Blood and Truth is cracking fun and feels like a real system-seller for PSVR. It's such a shining example of the tech at it's best you almost wish it could have been a launch title. Sure, games like Rush of Blood, Doom VFR and Superhot have proved guns and VR are fun, but this is the first time a realistic shooter has felt satisfying and right in VR.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro.
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