50 Cent is no stranger to videogame vanity projects, already having 2005’s critically panned Bulletproof tucked under his belt, presumably next to some sort of firearm. Apparently, the games industry is no match for a man who’s been shot nine times and lived to tell the tale, so the rapper is back to teach us a thing or two about Middle Eastern relations, and ask one important question: Where my skull?
50 Cent: Blood On The Sand drops Fiddy and his G-Unit companions into a distinctly Hollywoodesque depiction of the Middle East, a completely lawless place where guns, women and power are available to the highest bidder. Amongst the mercenaries, criminals and fixers, Mr. Cent finds himself on a mission to retrieve a stolen diamond encrusted skull, an artefact given to him as collateral for a concert he wasn’t paid for. Although the setting makes for some dumb fun, this is a conspicuously abrasive game filled with profanity, unlikable characters and stark, arid environments.
The environments themselves are somewhat reminiscent of Call Of Duty 4, representing one of the many influences that the game wears on its sleeve. The cover system, shooting mechanic and constant gun buddy are ripped straight out of Gears Of War, whereas the combo bonuses awarded for executing a string of stylish kills are cribbed from The Club. Although the game implements these mechanics in a decent enough manner, they aren’t carried off with the same aplomb of its benefactors. For example, the presence of a cover system implies a certain level of strategy, but running out in front of enemies whilst spraying and praying works just as well in all but a few situations.
Clocking in at around six hours, the length of the main campaign is something of a disappointment. Despite its brevity, the action remains fairly generic throughout: shoot this guy, open that door, destroy those helicopters. By the time the ubiquitous vehicle section appears around the ninety minute mark, you’ll have seen most of what the game has to offer. However, cooperative multiplayer and score attack modes should ensure some replay value, in addition to a range of weapons, melee attacks and profanity packs (yes, you read that correctly) that you may not have unlocked during your first play through.
Oddly enough, the fact that this is a 50 Cent game is one of the Blood On The Sand’s least objectionable features. If anything, tearing around with your homies and swearing on command with such a ludicrously shallow objective gives the game a spark of originality. Given all of the weird business decisions and public feuds that he’s been involved with over the last few years, the financially monikered rapper has become enough of a cartoon character that it’s easy to accept the insane situation that the game drops him into.
In a lot of ways, 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand feels like videogame fast food; it fulfils a basic hunger to shoot people with a variety of different weapons. However, when the dust has settled, you’ll be left wanting for something far more satisfying. I highly recommend an entrée of Uncharted followed by a main course of Gears Of War 2.