50 Cent and the Crystal Skull

In an interview before the release of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, two of Fiddy’s boys, G-Unit rappers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, revealed they were more than just rap stars lending their voices to the multi-platinum rapper’s new game.

In an interview before the release of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, two of Fiddy’s boys, G-Unit rappers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, revealed they were more than just rap stars lending their voices to the multi-platinum rapper’s new game.

The duo name-dropped both classics as well as new favorites among the gaming elite, but confessed they really just liked to play the best new games rather then trying to pay close attention to the ever-changing litany of original IPs, spin-offs and franchises commonplace in the industry. And who can blame them? They’re professional rappers, not gamers.

When asked what they thought about Blood on the Sand, Yayo probably said it best: “This is going to be my favorite game when this [sic] comes out.”

For Yayo and his fellow G-Unit members, not to mention Fiddy and company’s countless fans, Blood on the Sand may be just what the doctor ordered.

A cover shooter with 50 Cent’s insistently high production values, the game does a great job of wiping away the bad memories of Fiddy’s first game appearance, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, which, despite strong sales, received tepid reviews.

And while Blood on the Sand is a far more solid game, it’s nothing if not staid. The cover shooting is perfectly adequate, but overall the game lacks any kind of innovation and certainly offers little you haven’t seen before—outside of its nonsensical story anyway.

It’s not that Blood on the Sand is a bad game. It’s just one that falls short of what it could have been. What saves it from mediocrity is, surprisingly, Fiddy’s is involvement himself.

This time around, Fiddy’s out for blood in the, umm, Middle East somewhere when his payment for a concert (a priceless diamond encrusted skull) is stolen by a gang of ethnic terrorists who ambush the rapper’s Humvee.

Yeah, Blood on the Sand‘s story makes little sense. All you really need to know is that Fiddy kills a lot of terrorist scum and throws lines around like, “That bitch stole mah skull!” But that’s part of the game’s, umm, charm. (Well, that and lobbing F-bombs like Molotov cocktails).

To their credit, Fiddy and G-Unit members Tayo, Banks and DJ Whoo Kid do a bang-up job with their voice work—especially 50 himself. I have to say I was pretty surprised by the quality of Mr. Cent’s performance, especially considering that kind of voice acting licensed games usually have, but he actually makes Blood on the Sand a hell of a lot more enjoyable. Kudos also must be given to the scriptwriters for not over saturating the game’s F-bombs.

Obviously Fiddy likes to speak his profane piece, and does so often. But it doesn’t really sounds forced, not like in say, Capcom’s so-bad-it’s-good Beatdown: Fists of Vengeance. And there’s something inherently satisfying with hearing Fiddy yell out, “Motherfucking cocksucker!” before he blows them away.

The game also (I would guess at Fiddy’s insistence) makes for good fan service—the soundtrack is riddled with old and new tracks from the rapper, and unlocking extras like music videos will be fun for some die-hard fans.

But Blood on the Sand also suffers from some really ho-hum game design. Outside of getting more powerful weapons, the terrorists never really change, and the level design is uninspired and bland at best and cumbersome at worst.

The game tries to make up for this by presenting you with a number of timed challenges that pop up often. You may have to take down a couple of grenadiers, blow up a tank or pick off a few snipers, to name a few, before the time runs out. Do so and you’ll get extra points (yes, this game actually has a point system) and can unlock extras in the game.

But ultimately, as fun as the challenges can sometimes be, they’re just another feature to slog through by the time you reach the end, just like the game’s combat itself. Not even Blood on the Sand‘s large assortment of weapons, buying them with the random crates of cash you find lying around really doesn’t add much to the experience.

And with glaring flaws like the no less than three separate encounters in which Fiddy’s made to take down a chopper with an RPG. It just seems like Swordfish sort of ran out of gas halfway through the design process and hoped no one would notice—to say nothing of Blood on the Sand’s poor AI, weak hand-to-hand combat (essentially Resident Evil 4-style quick-time events, but easier) on-rails sections and obvious graphical glitches.

Credit must be given to the game’s inventive point scoring system, which will net you more points if you waste a bastard from outside cover and while making liberal use of the taunt button, but with so many other compounded problems it’s a somewhat hollow victory.

But really, chances are if you’re a big fan of Fiddy himself (especially if you were burned by Bulletproof) or you’re just looking for the next cheap-thrill popcorn shooter, Blood on the Sand‘s generic trappings, done up with G-Unit paint, will probably suit you just fine. For the rest of us, well, there’s always Gears of War 2.