My girlfriend wasted no time in building up her PlayStation 3 game catalogue. After just 24 hours of buying the console, she had already obtained six games. Her system came bundled with NHL 11 and Infamous. She then went out and bought Batman: Arkham Asylum, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Bioshock and most curiously, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. When she sat down in front of her new PS3 and chose what game to play first, the choice was clear to her. It did not involve hockey, super powers, caped crusaders, plasmids or Snake Eyes. Instead, she christened her PS3 with desert cities, a non-Indiana-Jones crystal skull and Tony Yayo.
Even though I’ve heard good things about 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, I would not blame anyone who expected this game to be ironically fun at best or flat-out terrible at worst. The first 50 Cent game was awful and the premise of this one is ludicrous (no rapper pun intended). Do you really want to play a 50 Cent game where you’re in the Middle East, gunning down terrorists while chasing a woman who stole your crystal skull? After seeing it for myself, the premise and execution of that are equal parts awesome and terrible.
At its core, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a cover-based third person shooter. If you’ve played Gears of War, you’ll likely get a feel for this almost immediately. For my girlfriend, who has never played Gears of War and has limited experience with shooters, it took her some time to adjust. It’s easy for seasoned veterans of dual-analog control to play these types of games, but once upon a time, we struggled with that control setup too. My girlfriend got the hang of movement, taking cover and shooting fairly quickly, but handling both analog sticks to move and control the camera at the same time was frustrating for her. I’m sure that with practice, it won’t be an issue in the future.
When she wasn’t concentrating on the mechanical frustrations she was having, I could tell that she was having a lot of fun playing it. She enjoyed the B-movie quality storytelling, which is conveyed through cut-scenes, in-game action and frequent-yet-eerily-one-way conversations between 50 Cent and whatever G-Unit member you choose as your sidekick. She also really enjoyed the act of taking cover, shooting countless numbers of terrorists and blowing things up, which you do constantly. The most ridiculous explosion we’ve encountered so far happened during the first driving scene, where someone inexplicably left a 2-foot ramp in the middle of the street. Your cohort will tell you to drive up the ramp and if you use it, the ramp will explode as your vehicle flies away from it. After she handed off the controller to me, she said she really enjoyed the game so far and was looking forward to playing more of it.
Once it was my turn to play, I immediately checked the Options menu to see which button was used for taunting. Arguably the most awesome gameplay mechanic in the entire game is the ability for players to make 50 Cent curse at any point in the game. What I ended up doing was taunting after every kill, which not only added points to my final score, but was hilarious every time, even when the lines repeated. You can save up your money to buy weapons or melee attacks, but I spent our first major stack of money on more taunts. Neither of us regret making that purchase.
For high-brow gamers that fawn over high-concept titles like Braid and Limbo, I’ll probably never convince you to give this game a chance. For those of you just looking for a fun shooter, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is the epitome of a guilty pleasure game or the textbook example of a game that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. You can find a number of small problems (and a handful of big problems) with how the game’s been put together, but it does get a lot of things right. Over anything, it’s just plain fun. My girlfriend and I enjoyed the few hours we’ve played so far and look forward to playing more. In fact, I’m now interested in picking up a PS3 copy so that we can play this in co-op mode.