When you actually get stuck into the game proper though, it’s possible to leave a huge portion of this obnoxious and oppressively stupid presentation behind. You just have to press the mute button.
With that done, you can see Blood on the Sand
as what it really is; a remarkably solid, if totally derivative, third-person shooter. It’s a blinged up Gears of Wars
, dawg. Dig it.
Played from an over-the-shoulder perspective, the game both plays and controls exactly as you’d expect. It’s a testament to either how generic certain aspects of the game are or to my Gypsy ancestry that I was able to guess exactly what features and controls are required to play the game.
The main and most obvious of these genericisms is 50’s speed mode that puts everything into bullet-time as he runs around spraying obscenities and lead over the scenery like a small child trying to hold onto a Fireman’s hose and being flung around by the recoil – wheee
Other power-ups at G-Unit’s disposal include the ability to shoot flame ammunition, or to unleash some nitrous in the vehicular sections of the game. You can also unleash melee combos by running up to enemies and jumping through the hoops of the quicktime events like a performing monkey, which is great way to reduce the game’s appeal but deal with obstinate enemies.
At various points of the game you get the chance to expand your arsenal of ever-powerful weapons too. Cash in the game is mainly collected from fallen enemies and the hidden crates of ‘50’s Fifties’ that litter the levels and every time you reach a payphone you can call your arms dealer and he’ll hook you up with whatever you want. He can fax those RPGs right through.
Pinning all this together like a staple in the spine is the usual spate of Gears of War
-alikes; a responsive cover system, plenty of utterly transparent arenas linked by long, brown corridors and an accompanying ally who can be replaced by a co-op buddy. Co-op definitely isn’t the focus of the game, as it was in Army of Two
, but it’s a nice addition and the AI ally isn’t as useless as you might expect.
Unfortunately though, no matter how fluid the cover system is and how deliriously over-the-top the action is, for most players Blood on the Sand
is still going to be unapproachably brash and crude. There isn’t a second that goes by that 50 and Co. are trying to impress you with how buff, hard, violent and deplorably outdated they are. It starts out as simply annoying and quickly moves from there straight into offensive and immature.
Story-wise, it’s a shame because it feels like there was a missed chance here to make a franchise game that was a bit more self-aware; something that could make fun of itself just like House of the Dead: Overkill
. With a suffocating sense of inappropriate seriousness though, Blood on the Sand
misses out on this chance and instead gets laughed at for different reasons.
When you first hear 50 yell ‘F***ing grenade!
’ when he tosses a sticky bomb it’ll raise a grunt of cynical, immature humour – but since he does it pretty much every time and since nearly all the dialogue is as repetitive, the grunt quickly becomes a weary sigh.
If you can get past all the over-inflated egos and sheer stupidity of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
and think you can learn to accept it as a game that’s just big, violent and surely not as serious as it appears to be, then there is a decent game here. Not an innovative one and not a consistently interesting one, but one which is definitely playable and fun in a guilty kind of way.
Unfortunately, getting that far requires so much of players in terms of wilful disregard for common sense and taste that you’d probably just be better off going and playing any of the other hundred games that have been cast in the same mould over the last two years.