50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
50 Cent: pop culture icon, businessman, philanthropist and superhero, or so the game would have us believe. The mogul’s new game scores perfect marks as a representation of cross-media sensationalising, but as a game it doesn’t fare so well. Any refreshing quirks, of which there are some, are promptly quashed underneath a mound of generic level design and sloppy AI programming. Its machismo is firmly tongue-in-cheek, but self-effacing irony can only stretch so far.
Much of the reputation surrounding the game comes from Fiddy himself. You’re just as likely to distance as many people with such a contentious figurehead as attract, and anyone who played the terrifyingly abysmal 50 Cent: Bulletproof is unlikely to pledge allegiance to the continuation of the franchise. Bulletproof’s formula, however, has been broken down and rebuilt from two major sources: the sequel smacks of two parts Gears of War to one part The Club, whilst also reminiscent of an eighties arcade game in that there’s no narrative drive to explain why the protagonist and his cronies are situated in a non-descript Middle Eastern country. You simply are.
This is all an excuse for a bit of a violence-orientated ruckus, of course. After a sold-out gig, Fifty and his G-Unit entourage shake down a businessman who owes him money. He can’t pay and, instead of listening to the cries of “waste that fool”, Fifty ungracefully accepts a diamond-encrusted skull. The skull is quickly pinched, much to the immense chagrin of our denominationally-conscious rap superstar, and he pledges to murder everyone standing between him and his bling.
It’s ridiculous, of course. And with all the integration of 50 Cent’s musical empire – “featuring 18 exclusive new tracks” is given top billing on the back cover – there’s the perfectly understandable concern that the game will get lost by the wayside. It doesn’t, but the resulting title is one that can only boast of being average. The shooting, graphics and controls are all distinctively competent. Its scoring system works but contains no incentive. The game lacks any sense of flair or vision: its design ambitions must have been to create the most middling gameplay experience of all time. If it were a colour, it would be a perfectly pleasing, inoffensively functional grey.
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