Blood & Truth Review — Live An Action Crime Drama In VR
This is the PSVR game I've been most looking forward to in 2019, finally letting a playerbase hungry for new experiences live a big budget underworld crime drama with plenty of fast-paced gunplay.
The end product does have a few issues that I wish had been handled differently, but it's hard to fault this game for what it manages to do within the current constraints of the PSVR hardware.
Blood & Truth starts familiar, as we've seen this setup in plenty of other games before, with the protagonist under interrogation and each level showcased as part of his story. The difference here is that instead of an innocent soldier trying to clear his name, Ryan Marks really is gangster who deserves to be in some black ops site.
That's where Blood & Truth starts to set itself apart. This main character's glorious mix of James Bond, hardened soldier, and wisecracking crime family enforcer is ludicrously improbable... but also a genuine pleasure to play in a first-person VR setting.
The VR Shooter Gets A Dose Of Flair
Those who have to devour every new title that hits the platform will notice quite a few similarities in mechanics to Planet Of The Apes VR, with limited node-based movement, similar (but expanded and more satisfying) gun handling mechanics, as well as utilizing the Move controllers in the same way to climb up ladders.
If you thought that movie tie-in title needed to be taken up a notch and given another layer of polish, you won't be disappointed with Blood & Truth. The developers added just about everything you could want for a game in this style.
Critically, you actually see your gun and ammo holsters, and there is this incredibly satisfying click when you put a gun away or whip it out properly. Immersion is crucial to a VR title, and this one nails the concept with those little details.
Between having to actually jam ammo into your weapon, to holding larger guns with two hands for increased accuracy, the Move controller support here really puts you in the game and makes you feel like part of the virtual world.
The combat and chase sequences are enhanced by a movie score-style soundtrack that constantly pushes you forward. In essence, you are living an action flick.
Now onto that one nagging problem: the biggest constraint with Blood & Truth is a lack of full free-range movement. It's a damn shame that Ryan can't freely roam around the levels and instead has to shift from pre-defined location to pre-defined location while shooting.
I'll say this though — despite that limitation, SIE London Studio still does some really interesting things with the mechanic, like switching between cover-based combat to on-rails shootouts.
Those "rails" aren't always in a vehicle either, with one pulse-pounding chase sequence entirely taking place on foot. That scene was made more difficult not just by the goons jumping out to shoot at you, but by the fact that you can't kill your target. Having to make sure you don't accidentally shoot him while defending yourself is as exhilarating as it sounds.
Working Within The PSVR's Limitations
There's plenty to do here in any given level to make you forget about the movement problem, from modding and spray painting your arsenal, to trying to unlock various achievements that require you to be flashy during combat.
Whether using a record player during a night club shoot out or blowing away enemies while hanging off a railing, the game offers a surprising number of ways to engage in the environment and suck you right in.
Acting as a stark contrast to the even more limited Everybody's Golf VR that just landed last week, the movement problem can also be overlooked in Blood & Truth because the rest of the mechanics are so advanced.
First up, lock picking is an absolute pleasure in Blood & Truth. I'm honestly baffled as to why more games haven't implemented this system of rotating one hand to twist the pick, then bumping up with the other hand to crack that lock. It's so much more intuitive (and fun!) than more traditional lock picking systems you'll see in games like Fallout.
The developers also clearly went out of their way to make the environment something to be interacted with, offering plenty of motions to make with your hands to draw you into the game.
An early segment driving home with your younger brother in his flashy new car immediately shows off the level of interactivity as you can pull down the visor, turn on the hazard lights, change the radio station, do little flourishes with your gun to look super awesome, and so on.
Of course, being in a virtual world and wanting to cause some mayhem, I tried to grab the gear shift and throw us into park on the freeway to cause a high-speed collision and end the level in a fiery explosion, but alas, they thought ahead and wouldn't let me do that. Killjoys!
The Bottom Line
- This game is absolutely dripping with style
- The environment is highly interactive and there's a ton to do while looking for new ways to kill dudes
- The Move controller mechanics are spot-on and really take advantage of the VR environment
- Limited movement is the biggest issue, as lack of free-range motion drops the immersion factor
- This is a big dumb action flick, so of course, you'll get shot a hundred times and be just fine at the end
- Graphically Blood & Truth trails behind any non-VR shooter
Like many PSVR titles, the graphics aren't as advanced as what you'd see with a typical AAA PS4 game, and sadly the movement is annoying limited.
Those issues aside, Blood & Truth basically puts you into the driver's seat of a blockbuster summer action movie where it's cool to shoot and blow up whoever, so long as you look damn cool doing it.
As Ryan, you get to jump through windows off tall buildings, shoot guys on motorcycles, get into a battle at a disco with the strobe lights flaring, toss grenades back at surprised enemies, and just generally be a badass, and that's really what video games are all about.
The bottom line here is that this game is just flat out a ton of fun. Yeah, I've knocked it down a few points because of the limitations inherent in this gen of PSVR (which I'm hoping will get resolved with the impending next Playstation VR iteration) but don't let that stop you from playing, because this is some of the most fun I've had with my VR headset so far.
[Note: A copy of Blood & Truth was provided by Sony for the purpose of this review.]