Marcus Fenix, Tomas Sevchenko, The Master Chief, that dude from Call of Duty 4; all familiar heroes of modern action games. As the starring character of his new shooter Blood on the Sand, we can welcome a new entrant into the annals of action heroism, one Mr. 50 Cent… well… kind of…
Let me shatter some of your presumptions right now, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is not a horrible shooter. The gunplay itself leaves little to complain about, and is totally comparable to the likes of something like Gears of War. All the weapons have a nice kick to them, feel like they should and kill like they should. If you’re looking for a decent time shooting, you can find it here. If you’re looking for a great total package, sorry…
The problem with Blood on the Sand is that it’s ridiculous. Every aspect of the game outside of the actual shooting is wrapped in thick layers of ridiculosity. The premise of the game brings 50 Cent to an unnamed area that’s strikingly similar to a middle eastern country. After a performance, his customer fails to provide payment and 50 takes a crystal skull as collateral. Said skull gets taken, and 50 then goes on to kill every desert gangster (not terrorist) in the country.
As the proceeding events unfold, 50 makes a series of contacts and goes on to get double crossed by those contacts. Every. Single. One. 50 Cent’s story is a tragic cycle of meeting new people, taking on jobs by those people, then having those people attempt to kill you. 50 never wisens up to this fact despite the fact the first piece of advice given to him is, “Trust no one.” Apparently in gangster rap terms, this translates to, “Trust everyone.” Gaining any enjoyment in the game starts with ignoring the fact that the star of the game is 50 Cent. If one goes in sans prejudice, the game begins to shine. Unfortunately, this might be a bit difficult because the entire soundtrack is filled to the brim with 50 Cent songs, but it’s simply a must to get to the real core of the game. Unless you know… you like 50 Cent.
Another glaring problem in Blood on the Sand’s plot is the inconsistency surrounding 50’s G-Unit allies. Throughout the entire game, the player will choose from one of three members of G-Unit to join 50 in combat, which is meant to be played by another human. Whichever ally you choose is never, ever represented in the actual story. Many of the twists and turns in the plot would be completely avoided if this other character was actual recognized by anyone in the game besides 50, who barely recognizes them at that. No matter which of the characters is chosen, 50 addresses them identically, never by name. This just serves to create a strange feedback loop between 50 and his partner throughout the entire game. You and your partner have several co-op moves to get you through the environment. Unfortunately, there are only two types of scenarios in which you use them, climbing and lifting, with the same animation every time.
Shooting aside, the core gameplay of 50 cent is almost marred by strange design choices that consistently pull you out of the gameplay. Whenever your co-op partner pauses the game or accesses any kind of menu, your menu also pauses inexplicably. I don’t understand why an online multiplayer game allows the players to pause the game, but it can be incredibly frustrating. 50 and partners also have melee attacks at their disposal however, these aren’t your standard melee attacks. Once you press the melee button next to an opponent, it initiates a separate sequence of timed button presses (always the same button) until you finally kill the guy. This sequence only serves to slow the pace of the game to a standstill, and I found myself always choosing to straight out shoot the guy instead.
Blood on the Sand is also marred by a overwhelming lack of variety. You’re basically shooting the entire time. Shooting the exact same type of enemy, that acts the exact same way, with the exact same weapons. The enemies don’t get progressively more difficult either, and despite the fact that you can buy “better” weapons with earned cash, the accuracy and power of your initial loadout is more than enough to take down baddies throughout the entire game. The game throws in some vehicle sequences for good measure, but these are hardly worth noting, and they don’t play particularly well either.
When you get Blood on the Sand’s quirks and the fact that the entire pretense of the game makes no sense at all, what you get is a decent shooter with a good co-op component. Naturally, there are better, similar, games on the market, but to write off Blood on the Sand simply because of the star is doing a great disservice to the game and to yourself. If you have an undying love for 50, you really need to ignore all of this.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
The game looks good enough, but it never escapes the brown and tan palette, ultimately getting pretty tiring.
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Decent shooter gameplay is marred by repetitive and jarring gameplay.
Iffy voiceacting is further hindered by a soundtrack with nothing but 50 Cent on it. If you like 50, change this score to a 10.
Short, short game with no competitive multiplayer. Not much reason to go back through the main quest.
There's some decent shooting granted you look past some major and minor flaws as well as the 50.