One of the big attractions of shooter computer games is they let you be the star of your very own action-adventure.
Given the horrendous legal repercussions, insurance bills and death toll from blowing things up while firing automatic weapons around with reckless abandon, it’s better for everyone that it be done in a game — because let’s face it, none of us are really John Wick or a Kingsman operative, no matter how cool we think that would be.
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Virtual Reality technology, and even though some of the games on it are still comparatively small-scale affairs and few of them are what anyone might consider a blockbuster — until now, thanks to London Studio’s incredible Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) exclusive game Blood and Truth.
Finally, we have an action game that moves beyond jump scares or feeling like a glorified tech demo, and really feels like it is actually an interactive action film starring you, the player, as British commando Ryan Marks.
The plot is pretty standard East End gangster stuff — your dad has died, a rival gang has disrespectfully moved in on the family’s unspecified but very shady business, and now it’s raining lead and spent brass as you get revenge.
But London Studio have done some incredible things with the VR experience to elevate this above your standard cover shooter.
Early in the game, you’ll find yourself touring an art exhibition — which is legitimately interesting in its own right, and gets even more fascinating as you see more of it.
The VR elements literally add a new dimension to the experience and it was quite unlike anything I’d ever encountered before and more impressively, it worked superbly in the context of the game too.
You can play with a standard controller if you like, but for the optimal experience, use the PlayStation Move controllers — you will swear you’re actually dual-wielding 9mm semi-auto pistols like Chow-Yun Fat’s cockney cousin.
Reloading the guns involves actually mimicking the motions of grabbing a magazine off your chest and loading it into the gun, and it all felt incredibly natural — even down to flicking your wrist to close the action on the sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun.
Movement is handled by looking at a marked location you want to head to, then pressing the “move” button on your controller, at which point you run over there automatically and take cover — a good compromise between the potentially simulation-sickness inducing fluid movement and the awkward and jarring teleport systems found in some other VR titles.
The banter between you and your family and colleagues is well done, and the story itself is straight out of a Guy Ritchie film, with an obvious sequel set-up to round things out.
From a gameplay perspective the game is basically a cover shooter — you move to a location, shoot anyone foolish enough to be there, then move somewhere else and shoot the people who thought that was a good place to be.
Despite this, the game is still a lot of fun and doesn’t feel like a retread of familiar territory, except in one or two of the later levels which feel a bit like one of those 1990s light-gun arcade games.
The pacing was a bit uneven too, being brilliant at the start then starting to feel a bit rushed towards the rather anticlimactic end; I felt like the game really needed another hour or so of content just to even things out a bit.
The actual gunplay with the Move controllers is superb, however — you can do pretty much everything you’ve seen an action hero do and wanted to try yourself, from using a silenced sub-machine gun to quietly eliminate sentries to leaning out the side of a van with a Kalashnikov assault rifle blasting away at pursuing enemies, or even firing two guns while jumping through the air, firing one gun while jumping through the air, and firing your gun in the air while going “Aaaaaargh!”
It’s not all gunfire, either — you also have the opportunity to pick locks, short-circuit security systems and detonate breaching charges too, as well as manipulate security cameras and even fly a drone.
There are some great and explosive setpiece moments that make you say “Oh Smeg!” in a good way too — such as leaping out of a casino window to escape an ambush and discovering you are several floors above the street below.
You also get a bullet-time like effect which slows things down so you can make more precise shots or more effectively engage multiple targets — and even shoot grenades in mid-air, because Blood and Truth is all about the Rule Of Cool.
The music was good, but I thought the gunfire effects could have used some beefing up, especially on some of the rifles.
From a technical perspective, however, the only issues I had were to do with limitations of the PSVR setup itself — the eyepieces fogging up, me moving the controllers outside the sensor area, and needing to recalibrate the setup once or twice.
Blood and Truth really is a very immersive shooter — the VR is an integral part of the experience and I can safely say I haven’t played anything quite like it before — and I absolutely loved it.
In a 12ga shell: Blood and Truth is pure awesomeness. In fact, not only is it an amazing VR game, it’s easily the best PSVR game I’ve played, and the first VR game I’ve ever felt comfortable saying is a Game Of The Year contender.
If you own a PSVR, drop whatever you’re doing and get a copy of this. If you don’t have a PSVR, seriously consider buying one, get a copy of this to go with it and then bring the noise — it’s a must play.
Are you keen to experience Blood and Truth? Continue the conversation on Twitter @RoyceWilsonAU