For a mature game with plenty of violence and coarse language, Blood & Truth does a great job of making me feel like a kid again.
The latest PlayStation VR (PSVR) action shooter by Sony Interactive Entertainment's London Studio nails the nostalgic thrill I associate with old-school light-gun arcade favourites such as Time Crisis, The House Of The Dead and Virtua Cop.
I played through the five-hour campaign in two sessions using a pair of PS Move motion controllers.
You can also use a DualShock controller, but this is hardly ideal as it feels a bit like your wrists are bound together. The rifle-like Aim controller is not supported.
The mechanics are simple but satisfying. With Move controllers, shooting involves simply aiming down the sights and pulling the triggers. To reload, grab a new magazine from an ammo pouch on your chest and slide it into the handle of the gun.
The game builds on the solid mechanics of The London Heist, a brilliant but criminally short tech demo released as part of the PSVR Worlds collection at the PSVR's launch in 2016.
You play as Ryan Marks, an elite soldier and member of a London crime family. After the death of his father, a rival gang tries to wrest control of his family's criminal operations, leading to the deaths of several more family members.
The game tells a typical story of revenge and family drama - think hitman film series John Wick (2014 to 2019) by way of crime drama Peaky Blinders (2013 to present).
While the writing is hardly revolutionary, the character performances are impressive and subtle. I liked how certain characters would shoot me worried looks while another character spoke, making me feel like I was part of the conversation.
The campaign features a number of big Hollywood-esque action set pieces, but some quieter sections are also quite memorable. I found one level, which has Marks walking through an art gallery and bantering with his brother Nick, rather reminiscent of the Future World exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.
The core gameplay essentially consists of on-rails shooting galleries.
You can move between specific nodes to take cover or pick up ammo, but there is no free movement. This means you almost never have to turn to face behind you, which is a plus, given that the PS camera has a hard time tracking the Move controllers when you have your back turned on it.
On the downside, it means backtracking is impossible. There were several annoying instances when I spotted a collectable too late and found myself unable to simply walk back a few metres to get it.
Puzzle-solving segments - where you use a set of tools to get through electronic locks or safes - are fun at first, but they ultimately prove to be more of a novelty than a real gameplay feature.
Sections where you have to climb ladders, crawl through ventilation shafts or scale up the side of a building are done well, but it can be frustrating to lose your grip and fall to your death because the PS camera lost track of your controllers.
Depending on the lighting of the room, the guns also sometimes track poorly and jitter. This is especially an issue when trying to aim at a faraway enemy with a two-handed weapon.
But these are limitations of the PSVR hardware and are in no way unique to Blood & Truth. If you keep your curtains drawn while playing during the day and avoid having bright lights on in the background, these issues can be largely resolved.
Despite some blurriness, Blood & Truth looks great on my original model PS4. PS4 Pro owners will enjoy a little extra polish, but Sony has done a good job making this game look as impressive as it did on my ageing hardware.
• Intuitive shooting mechanics are a ton of fun
• Compelling story and characters
• Adjustable difficulty and comfort options
• Lack of backtracking or free movement feels limiting
PRICE: $54.90 (PS4 only)
GENRE: Virtual-reality action shooter