Hands-on: Blood & Truth brings organized crime to VR

I'm not usually one for gangsters. I was never interested in The Sopranos, don't care much for Grand Theft Auto, and don't base my entire life on The Godfather. But one of the games that caught my eye at this year's PlayStation Experience 2017 was Blood & Truth, a first-person shooter for PSVR in which you and everyone you shoot is a member of organized crime.

Not surprisingly, Blood & Truth is being made by SIE London Studio, who previously made the London Heist part of PlayStation VR Worlds.

"Blood & Truth isn't connected to London Heist," explains Senior Producer James Oates, "but it was the inspiration, the starting point. Blood & Truth is a shooter at heart, but it has strong narrative elements, and lots of interaction with the world. It's set in modern day London.

"Though where London Heist was a Guy Ritchie-style gangster pastiche," he continues, "this is much more in line with such fast-paced, frenetic action movies as John Wick and Atomic Blonde."

He's not kidding. While my playthrough of Blood & Truth did task me with picking locks, using a surveillance system, and crawling through a heating vent like John McClane, the bulk of my time had me shooting bad guys as I ran around the hallways of a London casino.

This isn't to say Blood & Truth isn't without its subtlety. At one point, I had to get information out of one of the bad guys. And as Oates pointed out, I could not only waive my gun in his face, but I could also use a warning shot to get the guy talking.

All of which, Oates explains, is in service of the story. "You play as an ex-soldier named Ryan Marks who left his family's gangland ways to do something more honest with his life. But when his family gets embroiled in a gang war with a rival family, Ryan comes back to London for revenge."

Of course, getting revenge is never easy. But Blood & Truth makes it somewhat easier thanks to its controls, which are often an issue in VR games. And doubly so when you use the Move controllers instead of PlayStation 4 controllers. But using two of the ice cream cone-shaped Move controllers works well here. While there is a part that's on rails like an old school gun game, most of the time you move to the left or right with the touch of a button, move to certain points in front of you with the touch of another button, and aim your gun by, well, aiming.

Granted, this system does mean you can't backtrack to get more ammo. But it still makes it easy to take out your enemies before they can take you out (assuming you're a good shot, of course). Not only are the movement points often behind cover, at least partially, there's often multiple points along the same axis, which allows you to strafe left and right when need be.

There's also some situational advantages, such as how you can shoot fire extinguishers and possibly injury an enemy with the resulting explosion.

Otherwise, Blood & Truth works like every other VR shooter that uses the Move controllers: with your hand movements mirrored in the game. To reload, for instance, you have to grab ammo that's hanging on your belt, and put the clip into the gun like you would in real life. You also use the controller to press buttons, move parts of an explosive device into place, and even toss a grenade back at an unsuspecting bad guy.

As solid as Blood & Truth may be at the moment, it's still a work in progress, as Oates admitted when asked whether they're considering adding a laser sight to your gun (which would've kept me from putting so many holes in the casino's walls). "We're considering a lot of things," he admitted, "though you will have more guns than just the pistol you used in this demo."

While my time with Blood & Truth was short, it was also sweet (especially since it ended with a bang...literally). But it did leave me with one question I just had to ask Mr. Oates: "Given that you're making this game," I inquired, "and previously made London Heist, do you ever get real gangsters coming to your offices?"

"You'd be surprised."

Blood & Truth will be out in 2018.