50 Cent, the scully-wearing bullet-scarred legend, is back. He's got the firepower, heâ€™s got the attitude and G-Unit's got his back. This time heâ€™s looking for his diamond-encrusted skull and no country full of terrorists is going to stop him.
The skull, given to 50 in payment for a performance by a slimy concert promoter, is quickly stolen. So with barely a word (at least barely a word with more then four letters in it), 50 Cent decides to get it back. Along the way he also gets to kill virtually everyone in the unnamed, war ravaged, terrorist infested, middle-east country. A country whose worst mistake is to host a 50 Cent concert. I guess weâ€™re just lucky no one tried the skull-in-lieu-of-payment method with Rhianna when she played Auckland.
The luck of Auckland aside, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a third person shooter that aspires to nothing more then making a game that is simple fun, and making 50 Cent look good. Or rather making 50 Cent look as tough, bad, mean and dangerous as possible. To that end, there is very little to add because the game simply strips away any pretence of higher purpose. There is no accurate recreation of World War Two era weapons or tactics, no deconstruction of modern society, no thought provoking moral dilemmas. In Blood on the Sand there are just a lot of people who need killing and a few bad-ass Hip-Hop stars willing to do it.
Like Resident Evil 5 (in fact, very like Resident Evil 5), you begin the game with only the simplest of weapons and your partner. Here you get to choose your running mate from G-Unit. While the AI controls him in single player, when on-line people can drop in and out of games, controlling your G-Unit counterpart as they like. However, run by the AI 50â€™s backup becomes incidental to the game, offering little more then the odd animation of Lloyd Banks helping 50 up to a balcony or open a stuck door.
The majority of the gameâ€™s graphics are of the same standard. They do the job without being great. The levels are all nicely cluttered and bullet ridden, one looking much like the other. But, 50 looks like 50 and Tony Yayo looks like Tony Yayo and all this is played out to an impressive list of both well known and exclusive 50 Cent tracks.
As you play through the levels there are no real choices as you are quickly moved on to the next stage. What is a little disappointing is how quickly the gameâ€™s difficulty plateaus. There are driving missions and flying missions, and a couple of semi-boss levels where you have to take down a helicopter. Guns, ammo and cash are all plentiful and 50 himself is robust to say the least, able to take numerous grenade or bazooka hits before his health becomes an issue. And even when it is an issue it only takes a couple of seconds behind cover to regain full health.
This however cannot be said for the enemies. They die quickly, and in droves. But it is all for a good cause, and that cause is points. Possibly the best feature of the game is the points system. Throughout the levels you get points. Chain together enemy kills - points. Break some creates and grab some cash - points. Blow stuff up - points. Hit hidden targets, complete quickfire in-level challenges, blow more stuff up. Points â€“ points - points. You get the idea.
And the point to all the points? Aside from the simple challenge of beating your high score and getting on the on-line leaderboards, the points go towards unlocking a pretty impressive amount of content. There is a nicely handled, but familiar weapons store that you can access from various phones along the way. Also, there are increasingly violent melee kills, increasingly vicious taunts and full videos of some of 50â€™s biggest hits. This means that replaying the game not only makes 50 Cent progressively more violent and foul mouthed, you can also see him and Snoop doing P.I.M.P. as often as you like.
If however you are a fan of gaming, and not so much a fan of the man himself, then all the unlockable content in the world may not sell you on Blood on the Sand. It is a game that works within its limits. The graphics, gameplay and concept all adequately support 50 Cent in his bloody quest, and it is difficult to fault a game that is all it tries to be, despite being average in most things and hung around the most absurd storyline in gaming history, despite how much fun it is to play.
So, even if 50 Cent killing a country full of terrorists to ensure he gets paid for playing a concert is the most absurd story in gaming history, the only thing less likely being an M4 wielding Rhianna dealing death on Kâ€™Rd, it doesnâ€™t matter. Developer Swordfish Studios have delivered a game as blunt, as fun, and in your face asâ€¦ well, as a sold-out 50 Cent concert.