I couldn't help but bite my lip to keep from laughing when the backstory to Blood on the Sand, the new 50 Cent game, was explained to me. It sounded so ridiculously hokey and contrived that I couldn't believe they were actually making a game out of it. But then I saw the game in action and it quickly became obvious that developers Swordfish Studios and 50 Cent may just have the last laugh.
On the road again
First, let me explain that hokey backstory that nearly had me laughing out loud: 50 Cent and his fellow G-Unit members are contracted to do a tour somewhere in the Middle East. They show up and do their thing, or thang as the case may be, but there's just one problem: the concert promoter can't come up with the money, or scrilla, to pay them. Of course, 50 Cent's not about to let that sit so they so they try to convince the concert promoter to pay up using the power of logic and communication — just kidding: they threaten and harrass the jackass until he caves and offers them a jewel-encrusted skull as payment.
Now, here's where the plot thickens — the G-Unit crew gets ambushed as they're about to leave the country with their newfound treasure and 50 Cent heads into battle to get back what's rightfully his, as well as to unravel the mystery behind the valuable skull.
Way of the gun
Like I said, the narrative is not the game's strong suit. But then you start to see the game in motion and something strange happens: it all starts to make sense. That's because the developers were actively going for an over-the-top, balls-to-the-walls type of game, so it helps alleviate the feeling of "You gotta be kidding me" that kicks in when you hear the game's premise. The game is a non-stop bulletfest that sort of reminded me of Stranglehold: 50 Cent and his G-Unit cronies are constantly running from one location to another, spitting out equal amounts of bullets and trash talk.
It's a fast, frenetic looking game that plays out like a gritty action movie. Built on Unreal Engine 3 tech, the game also looks pretty impressive: the character models were sharp, the level designs showed a lot of polish and the gun-based action was buttery smooth. I also appreciated the intuitive cover system and the little touches like timed bounties that pop up from time to time -- kill X number of bad guys in X amount of time and you get a bonus -- as well as the co-op modes -- a friend can jump in and control a G-Unit member.
And of course, it wouldn't be a 50 Cent game if there wasn't a ton of unlockable 50 Cent and G-Unit related content. The final list of content hasn't been announced but you can expect the usual such as bonus songs, videos and extra in-game taunts.
I am going to reserve final judgement until after I've gotten a chance to try the final game but I've learned my lesson: it's not smart to underestimate 50 Cent or any game that stars him, for that matter. I'll be interested to see if Blood on the Sand's over-the-top story and gameplay translates into a worthwhile gaming experience but for now, colour me intrigued.