At E3 2015 Sony is showing a brand new addition to their The London Heist VR game, this time putting the player in an action-packed car chase. From Sony’s London Studio, the demo represents another exemplary entry into the company’s VR content lineup.
The story of The London Heist so far is that we’ve participated in the robbery of a precious jewel, killed some guards, then apparently misplaced said jewel—much to the dismay of our big bulky accomplice who is fond of blow torches. At least that’s what we learned at GDC 2015 where the demo made its debut on Sony’s new 2015 Morpheus prototype.
This week at E3 2015, Sony is showing off an additional chapter in The London Heist which they’re calling Getaway. This exhilarating car chase presumably comes between the robbery and interrogation scenes that we saw at GDC.
Sony’s London Studio seems to be building out episodic scenes right from an action movie. The London Heist – Getaway is about five minutes worth of a highway car chase, and as with the previous experience, it’s been executed impressively well.
In the demo you’re riding shotgun with the big guy that later interrogates you after you lose the precious jewel somewhere along the way. In this scene however, he’s your accomplice, and the two of you are speeding away from the robbery.
The beginning of the experience opens with the driver dropping a few lines of exposition as you rummage about the cabin using the PlayStation Move controllers (representing your virtual hands). There’s a lot to play with in this little space, including a large cup with straw on the dashboard, a soda can laying about, air conditioning vents, and radio controls, all of which can be manipulated in one way or another. Between you and the driver is a duffel bag full of gun magazines.
It isn’t long before an enemy on a motorcycle comes speeding up on your van, letting loose a salvo of machine pistol fire. Your accomplice, not terribly happy about this, rams the rider’s bike from behind, causing him to land on the windshield before falling down and getting run over by the van. At this point your driver punches out the damaged windshield.
As more motorcycles approach from the sides, your accomplice tosses you a machine pistol of your own, allowing you to return fire at the bikes. You can take out a bike by shooting the rider or the bike’s tires; the resulting crashes were designed to be dynamic and could sometimes even cause one bike to crash into another for a little two-birds-with-one-stone action.
The machine pistol is satisfying to fire, with bullet impact sound effects varying depending upon if you’re hitting flesh, metal, or glass. You can duck and dodge around your vehicle’s cabin while enemy fire leaves bullet holes and tears up the metal within. You can even grab the passenger door handle and open the door to provide front cover while you lean out the side to get an angle on your opponents.
After a short burst of bullets you’ll need to grab one of the clips in the bag between the seats and insert it into the bottom of your gun to continue firing. If you fire out the driver’s side window past your accomplice, he’ll lean back to give you room (a cool detail that made it feel like he was aware of what you were doing). You can pop open the glove box in front of your to find some extra clips if needed.
After the bikes come SUVs with gunners firing out of windows and sunroofs. The SUVs take a bit longer to take out; bullets from your machine pistol shatter windows and leave holes in the SUV’s thin metal exterior. You can kill the passenger gunners but you won’t take out the vehicle itself without damaging two tires or firing at the gas tank. When you do finish the job though, you’ll be rewarded with a nice crash.
Just as you think you’ve fended off all the attackers and are ready to speed home scot-free, a large black van pulls up in front of you and its rear doors burst open to reveal an enemy wielding a huge gatling gun. Here the experience fades to black and leaves you guessing what will come next.
All the while, the car is speeding and swerving, and yet I didn’t feel an ounce of nausea. The title’s developer is the same that created the Street Luge experience for Morpheus, which we suspected at first would cause significant discomfort in VR because of its speed and hills, and yet we found none. Apparently Sony’s London Studio has found some secret to eliminating discomfort in VR, even in high speed scenarios.
We’re looking forward to experiencing more of The London Heist’s episodic action scenes and learning more about the story and characters that tie them all together. We were pleased to hear from a member of Sony’s London Studio working on the project that the experiences would make their way to Morpheus in “some form or another,” and further that the studio wants to create full-fledged VR experiences that go beyond what have largely been targeted demos up to this point.