Name: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
Genre: Third-Person Shooter, Action
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Check out the Video Review.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a good game. Please, don’t stop reading. Over the past few months, gamers have lied to themselves and each other, trying to make up excuses for not enjoying the trailers for 50’s newest foray into gaming. “Oh, this aspect sounds annoying, I don’t think I’d like it,” they’d say, or “Oh, I don’t like his music.” People seemed unwilling to give his game a chance, based on the person’s character alone. And, well, his horrible last-gen game. Either way, there’s a difference between being skeptical and being prejudiced, and the community has had a bleak outlook on Blood on the Sand since before it was announced. Even with this negativity, few people who have played it will argue that 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is much better game than anyone seems willing to confess.
In order to give the game a more fun and silly feel than the previous iteration, Blood on the Sand takes place in an environment foreign to most gamers: the Middle East. After the final show of his tour, 50 Cent’s promoter stiffs him for the bill of ten million dollars. Jackson doesn’t take well to this, and shoves a shotgun in the man’s chest. His digital avatar is sort of a dick, and doesn’t seem ready to hear any excuses from anyone. Throughout the game, he encounters many people, some of which seem to be acting generally kind to him, but doesn’t seem to trust anyone. This is a good thing, since the clichéd plot has just about everyone possible turning on him, so the attitude isn’t misplaced. Lucky for the promoter, he has an alternative form of payment: a priceless diamond encrusted skull. 50 accepts the compensation, but is attacked before he’s able to leave the country. The Skull stolen, 50 Cent goes on a revenge driven rampage, attempting to reclaim his lost payment.
While lacking the budget of some other games on the Unreal Engine, Blood on the Sand makes the most of it, and uses its tongue-in-cheek presentation to its advantage. The game’s visual effects and audio are impressive, and help the game’s value significantly. The characters, both 50 Cent and the accompanying members of G-Unit, look impressive; though lack any facial animations beyond a stoic stare. High-quality voice acting helps drive the plot, and the game’s unintentionally hilarious dialogue compliments in the silly setting. After the skull is stolen, 50 exclaims “BITCH STOLE MY SKULL,” a line which should go down in history as one of the best lines of dialogue ever written or read.
But the over-the-topness doesn’t end there. No, the gameplay follows in suit, and no detail was spared in making Blood on the Sand as fun as possible. There’s always something going on, whether it’s enemies simply spilling out of a van, or Scenarios, which reward the player for completing objectives with either grenades or explosive ammo. It’s nearly a sensory overload, with points flying through the air, several different meters constantly being updated, and money flying off of enemies’ bodies. Foes' deaths give scores as well, turning the game into an old fashioned points-fest. Every square inch of the game has something worth paying attention to, and while it’s fairly linear, there are usually secondary paths that will reward the player for exploring. Paintings, boxes of bling, and randomly placed targets can be taken out, all rewarding the player and adding more to do. Weapons, insults, and melee attacks can be purchased with the money gained from killing enemies, and there’s no shortage of upgrades to 50 Cent’s already impressive arsenal. The melee, in particular, is fairly rewarding, and while it’s usually a simply button-pressing minigame they are hilarious enough to justify unlocking them all.
There’s a cover system, and while it isn’t as fluid as Gears of War’s it does its job. Combat is extremely simple, and thanks to the scoring system it’s also extremely addicting. Aside from the hilarious plot, Blood on the Sand’s gameplay stands out as some of the dumbest fun that can be had this generation. Fitty can even enter “Gangsta’ Time,” which slows down enemies for a limited period of time. Silly? Of course, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t lend itself to fun gameplay.
As said before, 50 Cent is joined in his journey with either Loyd Banks, DJ Whoo Kid, or Tony Yayo, who are controlled in the game by a fairly competent AI. The different members of G-Unit will slowly move towards the objective to prevent the player from becoming lost, which serves as an adequate replacement for a minimap or objective marker. On top of that, Blood on the Sand supports drop in/drop out cooperative play, where a second player can join in the mayhem at any time, simply replacing one of the members of G-Unit. It’s no Army of Two, but there are moments where cooperation is necessary, and playing through with a friend is definitely the way to go. They’ve even managed to get slow motion working in a multiplayer mode, a mechanic many developers seem to be afraid to attempt.
Seriously, it’s a good game! The graphics are all right, the gameplay is addicting, and story is good, stupid fun. The soundtrack is populated with the expected rap and hip hop, and though 50 Cent’s music isn’t universally acclaimed, it fits the game well. There’s just nothing really wrong with the gameplay, and most faults can be ignored fairly easily. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a trait far too uncommon these days. The $60 price tag is likely beyond what it’s worth for most (at $39 it would be a steal), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a chance.