Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.Ever hear the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover"? This is the concept that you can't look at the cover of a book and immediately know all the amazing flights of fantasy that you'll take while reading it (or, conversely, that the book may be much less awesome than that immensely detailed picture of a dragon led you to believe.) In the gaming world, there may not be a better example of this concept (or, perhaps more accurately, "You can't judge a game by its title") than 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. It's certainly easy enough to write the game off as a cash-in, but it actually is quite a bit more, and we're hoping its entry into TA's Easter Egg series will convince you of that.
50 Cent is kind of a big deal. A big enough deal that he is invited to the middle east to give a concert to his many adoring fans over there. After the concert, the promoter can't pay the bill, but offers Fiddy a diamond skull worth $10,000,000 dollars as payment. Fiddy is a shrewd business man and agrees to these terms. Unfortunately, a multi million dollar tchotchke in the middle of the desert is likely to attract attention, and the skull winds up stolen, thus setting up the entire premise of the game: 50 Cent's dogged pursuit of his skull.
The game is, at its core, a third-person shooter, complete with cover elements. It can be played in single player, or multiplayer over Xbox LIVE. In addition to the third-person shooter gameplay, each stage is also scored arcade-style, with the player able to earn bronze, silver, or gold badges depending on their performance.
The action is spread out over nine levels, with each level containing hidden posters, crates of gold, and targets within them that the player must shoot to collect points. Alongside the posters, gold, and targets, scenarios will pop up throughout the game, requiring the player to accomplish optional tasks. The completion of these tasks also adds to your score.
The game, like others in the genre, is fantastically geared toward co-operative play. The primary player plays as the man himself, while the second player takes on the role of a member of G-Unit: Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, or DJ Whoo Kid. Fifty Cent's crew is very needy, constantly imploring him in an effort to get his attention for assistance with various tasks ("Hey, Fiddy!", "Yo, Fif!", and so on), but this oddly becomes part of the game's charm. When engaged in one of the game's many gunfights, the player is encouraged to taunt their foes as they take them in order to build a better score modifier. Players can also do counter-moves to gain even more points. Upgrades to weapons, taunts, and counters can be bought with in-game currency. In addition to the typical gunfight levels, Fifty will sometimes find himself driving a humvee or shooting at baddies from a helicopter.
One other important thing to be aware of is the game's soundtrack, which contains over forty tracks by 50 Cent himself. There is no game soundtrack to speak of otherwise, but it's a cool idea to not only have those songs available, but to allow the player to just start up whatever tracks they choose instead of restricting them to specific levels of the title.
To complete 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, you will need to earn 46 achievements worth 1000G. The TA score stands at 1496. There is no DLC for the title.
There's good news and bad news with the list. The good news? Difficulties stack, so you can, in theory, play on the hardest difficulty level to unlock all the achievements related to completing the game on specific difficulties. On the bad news side, you will have to play the game twice if you want all of the achievements, as there are achievements for completing each mission as 50 Cent, and for completing each mission as a member of G-Unit. The G-Unit achievements are essentially for playing as player two, so a good co-op buddy helps. Another unfortunate bit is that those co-op achievements have to be done over Xbox LIVE.
The most difficult achievement is tied up in getting all of the Gold Badges. Golds can be a little tricky to earn naturally, but if you know where all of the posters, gold, and targets are on each level, taunt like there's no tomorrow, and complete available scenarios for extra points, they're not too hard to obtain. Surprisingly, there isn't an achievement tied to collecting all the collectables throughout the game, which might be a relief to people who hate collectable achievements, but is rendered moot by the need to find them for badges.
All in all, it's not a terrible list, but be prepared to play each of the game's levels a minimum of twice.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand has been tracked by 16,809 people as of this writing. Of those people, 1982 have rated it, awarding the game a community average of 3.3/5 stars. Score aggregator Metacritic has the title at a 71. The game has been completed by 3,058 people, leading to an 18.91% completion rate. Interestingly, the Japanese version has a TA score 1187, compared to the other-region's 1496. Of course, it is tracked by substantially fewer gamers (345 as of this writing), which leads one to believe that the Japanese version is largely picked up expressly for stacking purposes.
New copies of 50 Cent won't exactly set you back a diamond skull, but they are still a little pricey for a game released over five years ago. Amazon.com has copies listed at $54.00 while amazon.co.uk lists the game at £19.63. GameStop lists new copies at $30, but the dreaded 'More Info' button will inform you that copies are limited. Used copies, on the other hand are very affordable, ranging in the $10-$15 range in the states, or from £4 in the UK. The game also has a Japanese version mentioned above that can be acquired for about $30 or less for used copies.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a way more competent game than the title may lead you to believe. From personal experience, I know this was a game I avoided as I simply assumed it "wouldn't be for me," and the relative certainty I had that being named as it was, it would probably be awful. Now, however, I commonly sing its praises to people around me. While it is entirely playable on your own (and in some ways easier - members of G-Unit are apparently awesome at the game, so if you get downed, don't worry, they'll save you), the game definitely excels in co-op, and will provide you and a friend with many enjoyable moments during its relatively short campaign. If you have a buddy to play it with, or know someone else interested in starting it, this will provide an excellent bit of entertainment. All-in-all, it is worth it to give the game a shot, as it's a very solid representative of its genre. Also, whether you're typically a fan of Fiddy or not, you're bound to impress *someone* with your sudden knowledge of his music, so at least there's that.
If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
We've got the full list of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand achievements - check the list for guides to unlocking them.