50 Cent: Blood on the Sand Review

By Abbie Heppe - Posted Feb 25, 2009

In this X-Play Review, we take a look at the new multiplatform game '50 Cent: Blood on the Sand' and find out if this game parties like it's your birthday...or just a regular, boring Tuesday night.

The Pros
  • Foul-mouthed rappers on a rampage
  • Quest for badges add replay incentive
  • Challenging and smart enemy AI
  • Fun and simple co-op mode
The Cons
  • Slightly derivative
  • Too much running
  • At times, suffers from clunky controls

Let’s get it out there right off the bat: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is good. When I say good, I don’t mean so bad it’s good, that it’s ironically good, that it’s a guilty pleasure or any other excuse people might use. It’s just good.

Blood on the Sand draws heavily from other games including Bizarre Creation's often overlooked title, The Club, and I suppose to an extent, Army of Two. However, it’s up for debate whether or not Fiddy’s game rips them off or pays homage. Either way, one thing is for sure: those games lack foul-mouthed rappers leveling some unnamed country in the Middle East as well as the unbridled and infectious enthusiasm Blood on the Sand seems to have for itself. 

Bling Bling Then Bang Bang

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand ReviewThe game begins when 50 Cent and his heavily armed posse—Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and DJ Whoo Kid—get ripped off after a show. Instead of cash money, the promoter tries to pay Fiddy for his performance with a diamond-encrusted skull worth a cool 10 million—the same amount 50 should have received for the gig.

However, when the skull gets jacked, 50 finds himself trying to track it down while blowing up and killing every gangster in his path. It’s the basic outline for a blockbuster summer movie brought to life by humor and self-awareness, which is impressive for a game whose predecessor was distinctly terrible. Blood defies all expectations.

This is an advertisement - This story continues below

Blow It Up Like It’s Your Birthday

Blood on the Sand is a combo-based 3rd person shooter, much like The Club, combined with the cover system (sans the roadie run) from Gears of War. What elevates the gameplay beyond basic kill streaks are the point modifiers for things like headshots, taking cover, taunting an opponent post-kill and explosive kills.  While playing, you'll also earn points for completing challenges in levels like killing a certain amount of heavy weapon enemies in a limited amount of time or escaping a blast radius before you get blown to bits. Completing these challenges can earn you explosive bullets in your gun and equivalent bonuses in vehicle missions.

You also have "Gansta Time" that lets you build up and expend “Bullet Time.” Finding posters and targets throughout levels will also net you massive points and at the end of each level you'll be awarded a bronze, silver or gold badge depending on how well you did. Gold badges are no easy achievement. Once you start obtaining badges you’ll unlock new weapons, new counterkills (melee attacks) and increasingly offensive taunts to throw at enemies ("I'll kill your whole f&#%ing generation, motherf&#%ers") as well as concept art, videos and cheats. Considering the game isn’t very long, badges are an extra incentive to replay all of the missions.

Take Your Friends To The Candy Shop

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand ReviewBut wait! You don’t have to play alone! Online co-op works pretty seamlessly in Blood. You can invite a friend or let a random person join your game. And that's it! No unnecessary multiplayer clutter, just co-op. Unlike Army of Two, you don't have combat co-op moves, just the ability to occasionally help someone up to a high surface or open a metal grate. The real benefit of co-op is the extra pair of eyes looking for items and a partner to help you achieve super high scores with their combo prowess.

If you choose to go it alone, your AI partner will actually provide a great deal of help (perhaps more help than your real life friend in some levels); however, the AI partner won't help you find hidden items or pick you up when you lose all of your health. On the flipside, the game’s entire enemy AI is pretty impressive. Enemies will grab any cover they can, push explosive barrels away from themselves and run from the path of your bullets, so you expect a good challenge on the hard difficulty.

P.I.M.P Polygons

Also on the positive side are the graphics and animations, though they’re what you'd expect from a big game on a current gen console. The text and feel of the HUD are basically torn from The Club, an aesthetic I like a lot; however to complete the arcade feel of the game, you loot cartoon-y looking money from each building and text directs you to where the next onslaught of enemies is coming from.

It all feels very busy. In the era of no-HUD gaming, a lot of shooters have been employing the less-is-more mentality when it comes to information on screen, but 50 Cent embraces it and does actually does it justice.
Get Playin’ or Die Tryin’

Now, you don’t have to be a 50 Cent fan to enjoy the Blood in the Sand, but it helps. Playing through unlocks music videos and concept art for the game, and the soundtrack editor lets you choose your favorite tracks (18 are exclusive to Blood on the Sand) to play over the action.

So, whether you get ample listening time of all 50's new music or just play In Da Club on repeat cause its the only song you know, it’s totally up to you. In my opinion, the soundtrack compliments the game nicely and I probably know enough of 50's songs to start a 50 Cent cover rap group now.
Pimps Up, Hos Down

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand Review50 Cent does have some flaws. For a combo based game, you'd expect Blood to have a little less non-action running between different fights to tighten up the pacing; however, all the running does give you a chance to find all of the targets and posters hidden in the levels. From a development standpoint, it also wouldn't hurt to vary the quicktime event-ish melee system.

For the most part, the problems with the game are inconsequential. It’s a little confusing how swapping out your load-up is executed. In co-op mode, you must stop at a payphone to access weapons. When you do this essential game function, a popup window appears on your partner’s screen telling them that you’ve paused the game and gives them the option to boot you. As you can probably guess, it’s a little confusing at first.

Blood on the Sand has its moments of clunky controls. In single player, your AI partner will steal your best cover option or get in the way of your shots. In co-op, where fluidity can (but not always) get stiff as you complete co-op actions, you'll sometimes find yourself getting stuck on cover or having trouble leaning out from the correct side. For the most part, however, the controls and cover system work well and doesn't inhibit gameplay to any great extent.

...Like A Fat Kid Loves Cake

In short, forget what you’ve learned about 50 Cent games in the past. Somewhere in the beginning of the development process of Blood on the Sand, I swear Fiddy himself sat down with the developers and said, “Seriously, don’t embarrass me this time. A bad show? A bad album? It happens, but this is a video game, and my friends are going to play it. Make me look good.”

Is it derivative? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No. Have I spent the last week of my life beating this game 6 times over and STILL going back for more? Um, what I do in my spare time is between my consoles and me.

Article Written By: Abbie Heppe