50 Cent’s first game outing was somewhat poor, as I am sure many of you will agree. So when it was announced by THQ that a sequel was in the works I was somewhat surprised. Then the first videos began to emerge and even more surprising the game actually looked pretty good. When a review copy arrived on my desk from THQ I was eager to see if the game played as good as it looked. The only problem was that I am not really a fan of 50 Cent or his music, so even before playing I was looking to be more critical than usual. So to find out just what I thought of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand read on.
The game’s story really couldn’t be more simple, it is the last gig of a world tour by ‘Fiddy’ and his G-Unit posse in what appears to be an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The problem is that after the gig the promoter doesn’t have the money to pay Mr cent for his performance. After throwing around more bad language than custard pies at a clown convention the promoter offers ‘Fiddy’ a diamond encrusted skull worth a small fortune. However, events soon take a turn for the worse and the gangster rapper finds himself in the middle of an ambush and the skull is stolen. What follows next is a fast paced, double crossing, destructive, violent, and profanity filled action-fest as you take control of 50 Cent and retrieve what is rightfully yours.
The first thing that springs to mind when playing Blood on the Sand is that it it feels like some kind of gaming hybrid. As if Swordfish Studios, the developers, have taken bits from the largest selling action games over the last couple of years and moulded them into one gaming experience. This obviously means that the game offers very little in the shape of new experiences. But then that also doesn’t make Blood on the Sand a bad game or a bad gaming experience. The game plays well and certainly delivers on the action. As soon as anyone starts to play Blood on the Sand you will instantly recognise the influences from games like SEGA’s The Club, Gears of War, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
I have already said that I am not a fan of 50 cent, G-Unit, or even gangster rap, and although the game does have a heavy Hip Hop style culture seeping through its veins I did actually enjoy playing it. Just like The Club, Blood on the Sand is about linking together kills and achieving high score multipliers, which can also be achieved by being creative and flashy while dealing out high-velocity death. Sometimes I found that I was left feeling a little shocked by what was happening on the screen. For example, the melee-counterkills are often in very bad taste, given the current issues with teenage knife crime. But then because the game also has an arcade twist to the game play it does help to take the edge off of the harshness of it all.
So in what way do these other games help to influence Blood on the Sand? Well the setting of an unnamed Middle Eastern region is obviously influenced by Call of Duty 4, the third-person view and cover system is straight out of Gears of War. I could probably fill the rest of this page listing references to other games. But none of this makes Blood on the Sand a bad game, because it certainly isn’t. It’s not a great game, or one that will remain with you for the rest of your days as you reminisce in your older years. But then it’s a game that will deliver a lot of fun for your money, especially if you’re are the type of gamer who likes to go for high-score runs and so on. I was a fan of The Club, so when it instantly dawned on me that Blood on the Sand shared the same scoring style game-play I became hooked on bettering my score on each level.
I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to like Blood on the Sand as much as I did, in fact I thought I would never make it to the end of the game due to not really liking the source material. The over the top action and arcade style gameplay kept things moving at a nice pace and kept me coming back for more. Being one of the old-skool generation of gamers the idea of improving scores and timings is something that instantly hooks me. The point I am making is that even if you’re not a fan of ‘Fiddy’ and his G-Unit or even Hip Hop in general you can still have an enjoyable experience. Another way to put it would be to compare with how popular the Guitar Hero series has become and yet many who play don’t really go for rock music.
On the graphical side of things Blood on the Sand looks as you would expect, pretty good. You won’t find anything new or visually stunning but it all looks nice with a smooth framerate. 50 cent and the G-Unit characters are all modelled and animated well and certainly look like the people they represent. The soundtrack as you would expect are all 50 Cent tracks, with more unlocked as you play through the game. The game features over 40 tracks from 50 cent’s repertoire, and also features an audio player where you can choose a playlist of your favourite tunes that will play in the background while you work your way through the game. Along with a ton of tracks, nine music videos are also included which unlock as you play through the game. Certainly a good package if you’re a fan of 50 cent.
One feature that made me laugh out loud on a few occasions was the inclusion of what I can only call a swear button. Clicking down the left stick at any point during the action will cause ‘Fiddy’ to break out a profanity ridden cuss. During each level are a number of payphones, these can be used to phone up an arms dealer where you can buy more explicit profanity packs alongside rocket launchers and various machine guns. The more expensive the profanity pack the more harsh the language becomes. Now I am no prude and certainly don’t shy away from violent games and films, however some of the language even had me wording an audible ‘WHOAH’ on many occasion. Sometimes the language is unnecessarily shocking, but I guess that is just going to make the game even more appealing to the target audience.
Yes, Blood on the Sand is a violent game and it is full of bad language, but in all honesty I have come across far worse games in my time. The problem here is that the anti-game brigade could easily have a field day with it. For example one of the many melee counterkills in the game has ‘Fiddy’ delivering a few fists in the face of the enemy following up with multiple stabbings to the body area. Now don’t get me wrong it didn’t bother me and is probably no worse than dishing out a melee kill in games like Call of Duty. The problem for me was that with the current trend in teenage gang related incidents including many teenagers getting stabbed seemed a little in bad taste. I know the game is rated 18 and over but as we all know kids will persuade unknowing parents to buy them a copy. I am wondering how long it will be before Blood on the Sand is in the press for all the wrong reasons.
Anyway, enough of the negativity because Blood on the Sand delivers a damn good third-person action gaming experience. If you’re a fan of 50 Cent then you will obviously get a hell of a lot more from the game than I did, and like I said I still enjoyed the game regardless. So if you’re a fan then add another point to our final score. The online side is only two player co-op where one player takes control of 50 Cent and the other one of the G-Unit crew. It works well enough but probably won’t be a long lasting thing online so for you achievement and trophy collectors make sure you take the game online sooner rather than later. After 50 Cent’s last videogame outing this is a much improved experience, not a fantastic game or even an essential purchase (unless you’re a fan of ‘Fiddy’) but still well worth checking out.