It’s the small things that make all the difference. I’m near the end of the tutorial section of Blood & Truth, the new standalone PlayStation VR title from Sony’s own London Studio, and between all the action and theatrics of a short run through the basics of this on-rails shooter it’s been a struggle to catch my breath. Now I’m sitting in the passenger of a 4X4 alongside my newly liberated comrade, peering out the window to take potshots at bad lads on motorbikes – a standard video game set-piece, given new life by the wonder of VR – but that’s not what makes it special. For that, strain your ears to hear beyond the gunshots and explosions to hear what’s blasting out the radio: Tim Deluxe’s 2002 banger It Just Won’t Do.
It’s an upbeat summer smile of a track, a number that every dance floor in the UK capital seemed to bounce to during the early 00s, and despite sitting in a jeep that’s racing through an anonymous stretch of virtual desert it feels so very, very London. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, seeing what follows – a gangster-infested shooter that’s steeped in the cinema of Guy Ritchie, taking place in a caricature of the capital that, despite its embellishments, feels authentic – or where Blood & Truth is being developed, in the heart of Soho.
Think back a little further to the history of this studio, and it all begins to make more sense. Back in 2002 – around about when It Just Won’t Do was hitting the airwaves, in fact – this same developer was making its name with The Getaway, an open world action game cast firmly in the mold of Grand Theft Auto whose standout twist was its authentic depiction of London. The studio has charted an often fascinating course in the years since, working on EyeToy and SingStar, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw it had returned to its old stomping ground for The London Heist, perhaps the standout title in the VR Worlds collection that accompanied the launch of PlayStation VR.