VGJ Review: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (Xbox 360)

While it may not have been the case even five years ago, shooters are a dime a dozen on current gen consoles. There are plenty of ways that, if you’re a developer, you can make your game stand out from the crowd. You could make a superlative product, spend tons on marketing or, as in the case of THQ’s 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, you could feature one of the world’s most well known rappers as your game’s main character.

The entire game is soaked in the personality and fantasy of 50 Cent as well as the G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and DJ Whoo Kid. The story revolves around 50 Cent and company going unpaid after a show somewhere in the Middle East. The $10 million dollars, which is far too much for any one concert, they are owed is not around so what do any self-respecting gangstas do? They take their shotguns out and, as Tony Yayo says at the beginning of the game, attempt to “smoke that bitch.” Before anyone is smoked, 50 Cent is offered a diamond encrusted skull which is immediately stolen and now the G-Unit is on a mission to get paid.

Throughout the game, which plays very much like a competent Gears of War clone, a full 18 track soundtrack, comprised of several new songs recorded specifically for the game, pumps in the background. Unlike Gears of War, Blood on the Sand puts players in arenas that are teeming with enemies. The large quantity of enemies, not variety as there are 4 different skins for bad guys at best, lends to the arcadey style of the gameplay. Players will be tasked with chaining kills and trying to score as many points as possible to earn bronze, silver or gold medals at the end of each stage. There is also the money, which is dropped by enemies upon their demise, and bling, found in convenient crates full of rings and chains, to be found along the way that is used to unlock new weapons, taunts and counterkills (the game’s melee quick time events) and add to your score.

Every once in a while, after taking out lots of bad guys and collecting cash, you will have the opportunity to take part in a nice change of pace section of the game. There are two car sections, a section where you fly a helicopter and multiple sections where you will have to fight, from the ground, the aforementioned helicopters and shoot them out of the sky. These sections amplify the fact that there are not many different types of enemies and that the whole reason for playing is to enjoy the fact that 50 Cent is the main character. While these sections are done relatively well, they can become repetitive and once you figure out to use the Gangsta Fire (Blood on the Sand‘s version of bullet time) to take out the helicopters, you will find them far too easy.

While not being the deepest shooter ever, the game is more than adequate enough in terms of gameplay mechanics. The aiming has just enough stickiness to it that most weapons, especially the very powerful ones unlocked later on, are all deadly. There is also a cover mechanic that is familiar but is generally unneeded as players can run through this game while having a great time either listening to the ridiculous and hilarious phrases being spit out by the G-Unit or a friend online in the co-op mode available to connected XBL and PSN users.

Unlike many other games, this one uses its license to great effect. Every bit is exactly how you would imagine 50 Cent would like any scenario to go down. Don’t get paid at a show? Hunt the promoter down and shoot him. Get your diamond encrusted skull stolen? Hire, and later become, a mercenary and his team to help you get it back. If you take the game too seriously and concentrate on its shortcomings, you will probably wind up regretting having played it. If you are a fan of 50 Cent, his music and the near-mythical status that he has ascended to with stories of being shot and coming back from certain death, than you will probably really enjoy this quick, fun romp through 50 Cent’s dreams.