It’s not often that a game actually leaves us here at Videogames speechless (last issue’s RapeLay notwithstanding), so 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand caught us slightly off-guard in that it is one of the genuinely most baffling console-based experiences ever endured this side of Suda51. However, what compounds this dreamlike sense of phantasmagoria is the fact that the core gameplay itself is so generic a rip-off of other, worthier games, such as Gears of War 2 it’s almost untrue (and, yes, I did just describe Gears as “worthy,” it’s been a long year).
This mighty parade of madness begins with the game’s plot; the good Mr Cent performs a concert in a generic Middle Eastern locale, however the shifty racial stereotype who is meant to pay him his hearty $10 million fee welches on the deal, instead offering a Hirstian diamond-encrusted skull of legends, which is promptly nicked by even shadier Arabic enemies. You then step into the blustering, ridiculously-muscular frame of everyone’s favourite potty-mouthed rapper, shooting random people until you’ve claimed your hard-earned skull. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the mindfuck.
The core mechanics of the title, as mentioned above, are like some strange, warped clone of Gears, complete with almost identical controls and cover system to the point where it’s only after failing to perform an active reload that you realise which game you’re playing. Actually, that’s not quite true, as Blood on the Sand’s gameplay isn’t as accomplished as Epic’s handiwork; the cover system is far more maladjusted, leading to poor old 50 jumping and diving all over the shop when all you want to do is crouch behind a bin and punctuate someone’s face with bullets.
Indeed, this winning formula is rarely deviated from, making the whole experience more repetitive than a Monday morning in purgatory. You can also try some hand-to-hand combat, which is like a rhythm-action game starring Curtis James Jackson’s fists, ending with a lingering camera shot of the man’s confused, dead eyes staring over the body of a man he’s just killed.
Blood on the Sand is, surprisingly enough, a relatively competent game at the most basic of levels, however it is beset by tiresome swathes of repetition which undermine the rest of Swordfish’s relatively admirable work. However, based on the utterly bizarre premise and delivery, it remains something of a delicious curio for those with the right sense of humour and a liberal grasp of the concept of irony.
Your mileage, as they say, may well vary.