[[image:090501_50cent.jpg::right:0]]50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is an irredeemably dumb game. The story line — multi-platinum pop star murders his way through a warzone in order to reclaim a jewel-encrusted skull — is either brilliantly ironic or the product of a mind so feeble, so sheltered, and so surrounded by yes-men that this concept makes perfect sense to them.
The music in the game is awful. I’m a fan of hip-hop, but not this pablum. I actually played through the vast majority of the game listening to a three-hour-long gaming podcast, actually preferring to hear game journalists drunkenly argue about subjects that don’t really interest me to the in-game sound. If this game were a radio station, I would be very tempted drive my car into oncoming traffic just to make the pain stop.
The mechanics are a pastiche of game design clichés. The game plays like a bastard hybridizaton of Bizarre Creations’ The Club and Epic’s Gears of War, featuring third-person, cover-based combat with a point meter that rewards you for chaining your kills together. As you play, you collect money that you can use to buy new melee moves, new guns, or most impressively, new taunts. Yes, one of the rewards is new curses for Fiddy to yell at people when you push the button specifically assigned to Fiddy cursing. Besides money, you can also collect posters. Since I spent the entire game skipping every cut-scene and tutorial, with the sound turned almost all the way down, I have no idea if there’s any reason to collect the posters. The game does have co-op play, if you can admit to your friends that you have it. If you do, you can play as FIddy while a buddy takes on one of the members of G-Unit who doesn’t have his own brand of Vitamin Water, like DJ Whoo Kid.
I don’t like this game, but I had a lot of fun playing it. I decided to try it after Justin McElroy from Joystiq.com described the fact that in the short driving sections, you can jump your vehicle off of a wooden ramp, which then explodes. In slow motion. For no reason other than it’s awesome to watch your car jump an exploding ramp. The whole game seems put together without regards to whether or not any given decision might make sense, but how “bad-ass” it would be. I don’t like the story, the characters, the art, or the music — items that the game’s publisher were probably hoping would be the key selling points — but I thought the mechanics were very satisfying. Seeing my points increase exponentially as I’m rushing forward at great velocity, shooting people in the face along the way, never grew old for me. Keep this game far away from anyone looking to justify a “games are art” thesis, as it’ll crush their spirit. However, if you can overlook everything terrible about this game, you’ll find a pretty fun ride. Like a Michael Bay movie, it might be dumb as a box of rocks, but if you can turn your brain off you can have a good time.
The third-person shooter is becoming as clichéd and boring as the FPS has been since about two years after Doom was released. However, the fast paced Blood on the Sand is a fun way to kill four or five hours, and it’s worth a rental — assuming your gaming tastes can accommodate the occasional murder simulator.