50 Cent and the G-Unit boys do more then craft platinum selling Hip-Hop records, they raise hell with an all out onslaught of bullets in foreign countries. I'm not sure if that helps the album sales, but it is a hell of a lot of fun in gaming form. No doubt there will be Blood on the Sand in this no holds barred, balls-to-wall shooter. Fiddy is back, gangsta.
Who would have ever thought the musical endeavours of 50 Cent (Pronounced Fiddy-Cent), Curtis James Jackson to his closest friends would be feature more than once in the videogame world. In this day in age anything is possible, and if Def Jam records can do it, so can 50! Backed by THQ, Swordfish Studios and the Unreal 3 game engine, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand gets down in dirty. Featuring intense action and a heavy dose of multiplayer co-op connectivity you might be surprised to learn that 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand isn’t that bad. Call it a sleeper hit, well not exactly, but it is an alternative to norm.
In subliminal tribute to the old school way of the simple shooter, Blood on the Sand gives the player a large number of guns and lets them go to town on what seems like an entire town of dead-beat mercenaries. The central plot revolves around 50 Cent and three members of G-Unit (Gangsta Unit) Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, and DJ Whoo Kid. The set up is that 50 has been stiffed at a concert in a fictional Middle East country. After the show the promoter tells 50 he can’t pay the agreed $10 million and offers 50 a priceless diamond-and-pearl bejewelled human skull. The skull seems like good collateral for 50 and he agrees to the monetary settlement... and then the game begins. A rouge group of mercenaries steal 50s newly acquired skull which launches 50 and one member from G-Unit into a bloodthirsty tale of mercenaries, money and betrayal.
For substance, Blood on the Sand has enough pull to keep you rolling through the story. It doesn’t take an expert to tell you the story takes us beyond outrageous, however its outrageousness is part of the charm. It is amazing how 50 transforms from platinum selling hip-hop artist to a proficient killing machine. No bullet, rocket, or explosion can take down 50 as he marches head on with death. Needless to say, controlling 50 empowers the player making them feel like the biggest badass on the planet, and when you combine that with solid game mechanics, decent graphics and the hip-hop beats of 50 cent, you have one solid shooter. Blood on the Sand isn’t a deep adventure, it’s a shut down the brain, let’s rock-n-roll and lock-n-load.
The mission structure in “BOTS” is divided up in nine chapters with lots of small objectives, some optional, and some mandatory. During each mission you will constantly be updated with new goals for 50 to accomplish. Hitting some of the optional objectives will boost your score which contributes you’re ranking at the end of each level. For more than achievements and bragging rights, each levels finial score is kept in memory and posted on the supported leaderboards. Unfortunately, BOTS doesn’t include normal Deathmatch styled multi-player, so high scores is the only online competitive action you can get. Besides ranking on a leaderboard you can play co-op online which is one of the best ways to play. Blowing through thousands of enemies is fun, but it’s more fun with a friend.
Maybe even more surprising then the co-op gaming and objective driven mission structure is the graphical performance. The graphics are a better than the ramshackle piece together that is called Bulletproof. Swordfish Studios has put some love into this puppy. Sure a few problems like pop-in textures and mismatched animations click from time to time, but by no means does this hurt the overall flair of BOTS. To be quite frank, Blood on the Sand is a visually stimulating game chalked full of excellent special effects including one of the best missile launcher smoke trails ever seen in a game. All the explosions, smoke blaring through the open air is very inviting for those who like to mayhem.
Adding more pizzazz to the mix are the solid character models, mainly showcased on G-Unit and Fiddy himself and the excellent levels. Beyond solid graphics each level has is interweaved and designed to take full advantage of the cover mechanic that comes into play. Unlike Gears of War where the cover is sporadically set up in a level, Blood on the Sand is littered with ducking opportunities and ammunition to take on the oncoming hordes of soldiers. This is another aspect that I really enjoyed about the level design, I didn’t have to guess that I was going to be ambushed by seeing a grouping of cover coming up around the bend, every bend was another ambush and there is so much cover that nothing takes you by surprise. This of course ties into the guilty pleasure comes from running level-to-level demolishing everything you see.
The soundtrack in this one is obviously full of 50 Cent materials that span his career, however making this a more memorable 50 offering, he has included over 10 new tracks. Each 50 tune has a strong solid beat that lends itself perfectly to the violence happing on the screen. The mumbling slyness of Fiddy’s tone and no-nonsense back beats keep the action feeling fresh and the player’s mood in the right place for more destruction. Want more 50? Well you can have with a number of unlockable videos featuring, well, you know who.
Blood on the Sand isn’t a total mindless bust, even though most of the gameplay points in that direction. The A.I. in the game is the generic, run-towards-death mechanic in the enemies approach, however you’re team mates have a better head on their shoulders. You’re G-Unit member of choice will assist you in flanking and working your way around the map in a logical manner. A few times they will get hung up, or walk into a dumb position, but for the most part they are fairly adept in keeping the mojo rocking.
Aside from the bullet massacre, Fiddy can take care of his enemies with the newly implemented counterkill system. The counterkill system is basically a melee attack that is attached to several quick-time button presses. These pieced together animations are cool and brutally violent. It’s not Mortal Kombat, but it has some vigour. New counterkill moves can also be purchased and upgraded as you earn money in the game. This is done by using payphones that are placed in maps. Along with new melee attacks you can also upgrade new taunts and more importantly new hardware. In BOTS there is a hefty dose of firepower. The more cash you earn the more fun you can have.
Lastly, I haven’t touched on the two driving missions and the one rail-shooter mission inside of a military helicopter. The driving missions are some what of a bust. If you are not playing with a friend then you will be simply driving the hum-v through a trigger event obstacle course. Its not too much fun to sit down and hold the gas while they guy on the gun turret has all the fun. There should have been an option to drive, or shoot, I’m sure most gamers would have picked the turret. Adding more insult to these boring missions is that the second is the final mission meaning you blaze through the whole Fiddy experience only to press the gas. Auh! What, What, What! The airplane missions are a lot more fun, want to guess why? Because you handle the turret as your copter twists and turns through the enemy stronghold. These three missions add a little more to the diversity of the game, but they should have kept the player on the rails.
Fiddy proves his gaming career is more than wanksta dreaming with Blood on the Sand. You would almost have to be lifeless not to enjoy a few minutes of 50 this action packed shooter. This doesn’t mean you should run out and purchase Blood on the Sand, unless you’re a diehard Fiddy fan. Blood on the Sand is the perfect weekend rental to enjoy with a friend. Have a few pops, crank up the volume and mindlessly jump into the heavily geared up persona of 50 cent. The scary thing out of the whole experience is that I actually want to see the series continue... so how about it Swordfish, one more 50 game?
Gameplay:7, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7, Mojo:8 Final: 7.8 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 03.19.09