50 Cent: Blood on the Sand Review
- Posted February 24th, 2009 at 18:16 EDT by Steven Williamson
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For 50 Cent fans Blood on the Sand is a must-buy, but devotees of the genre will also be pleasantly surprised at its impressive features and rampant gameplay.
- The gratuitous, non-stop action
- The solid co-op mode
- The rewarding side objectives
- The bizarre storyline
- The bland environments
- The lack of Trophy support
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand’s surreal and far-fetched storyline, which sees the foul-mouthed rapper and his G-Unit buddies tackling a bunch of heavily-armed thugs in the Middle-East in the search of a diamond-embedded skull, doesn’t bode well for the rest the game. The underwhelming graphics and colorless environments don’t fill you with confidence either; aside from the finely rendered character models and the accurate representation of 50 Cent himself, Blood on the Sand sadly doesn’t look worlds apart from Bulletproof on the PS2.
We expected, therefore, that the gameplay would follow the same lazy pattern, and also assumed that 50 Cent fans would be the only people interested in tackling foes to the beat of the rapper’s own soundtrack and crude ‘gangsta talk.’ Surprisingly though, there’s much more to Blood on the Sand than first meets the eye. At the core of Swordfish Studio’s third person shooter are some solid gameplay mechanics that do an excellent job at making this farcical romp through the mean streets of a fictional Middle-Eastern city a highly enjoyable experience – something that we certainly didn’t expect, but are happily surprised about.
On the surface, Blood on the Sand seems to employ simple run-and-gun mechanics where you mindlessly blast through hordes of enemies with little or no tactics necessary. A few stages into it, however, it becomes obvious that a lot more has gone into the game's creation than initially apparent. Though you can try and run-and-gun your way through the short story mode, which incidentally is the most entertaining way to play Blood on the Sand, there's plenty of opportunity to use intelligent tactics. Clever level design allows for this, with trickily positioned mounted gunners making it difficult for you to tackle them head-on, snipers perched on roof-tops who take accurate pot-shots, and multi-tiered levels where enemies can gain the upper hand if you're not on your toes. Thankfully, the lean and peak cover system, which has been implemented superbly, helps to counteract the enemy threat. You can stick yourself behind cover instantly and swap from one piece of cover to the next extremely smoothly, and then effortlessly peak over the object to focus in on the enemy. The smooth cover system and the polished combat control scheme make for a fluent and well-paced game that feels almost arcade-like.
Co-op play makes an appearance, allowing you to jump into someone else’s game or host your own, and battle through the story mode together. It works seamlessly, too. You can dive into a game instantly with no signs of slowdown to interrupt the action or dodgy camera angles to make things difficult. With two players working together side-by-side to grind down the enemy threat and carry out tasks specifically designed for two people, such as giving each other a leg-up onto a roof or lifting up some heavy shutters to reach a new area, it can be a great deal of fun as you rack up multipliers and dash around picking up loot from dead bodies.
Alternatively, if you don’t want human company fighting alongside you, you can choose from one of three A.I. controlled sidekicks, who do a great job at backing you up and providing cover as you attempt to clear the enemy threat and catch up with the “bitch” who stole your skull. Blood on the Sand is all about racking up points, picking up hard cash, and massacring those who stand in your way. Multipliers are awarded for kills, which adds a bit of excitement to proceedings and encourages you to chain together kills, while cash can be collected from dead bodies and caskets and used to purchase new weapons, counter-kills, and taunt packs that add weight -- and a whole load of "mutha f**kers" and ill-bred jibes -- to your vocabulary. There are also masses of timed side objectives, which add intensity and drama to each of the stages.
It’s these side objectives that really make Blood on the Sand much more than a run-of-the-mill third person shooter. During each stage, you trigger a number of objectives where you’re tasked with the likes of taking out the sniper threat, planting some C4 on a tank, or gunning down the guy who's parked on ... (continued on next page) ----
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