The very best games, the pinnacle of any media, really, are those with an ability to teach us something, however slight, about ourselves. This highest of compliments can be paid to 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. For Fiddy has taught me exactly how much I'm willing to forgive if a game has solid controls, great structure and a few really good ideas.
BotS has combined a more arcadey version of Gears of War's combat with the combo focus and pacing of The Club and created something unique and undeniably compelling ... if you're willing to ignore some stuff.
Would you excuse a game for having a lead character that wavers between unlikable and reprehensible? Boy, I know I did.
Speaking of choppers, they're pretty much the only boss you'll ever fight. I suggest that you, as I did, tell yourself that (like the mongoose and snake) 50 Cent and helicopters are natural enemies -- their constant struggle isn't just the norm, it's dictated by the laws of nature!
I also found I was willing to give a pass to an entire game's worth of music that I don't particularly enjoy. If you like Mr. Cent's rapping, you're going to experience audio ecstasy. If not ... well, there's always the "Mute" button.
Would you excuse a game for having a lead character that wavers between unlikable and reprehensible? Boy, I know I did. Though 50 the man may be a swell dude, 50 the game character is a violent, coarse, vulgar thug who almost exclusively refers to the game's sole female character as some variation of "that bitch."
So, how am I able to ignore these and a plethora of other offenses? In short: Blood on the Sand is fun. Developer Swordfish Studios has developed a system that's constantly doling out rewards, whether its for killing several enemies in quick succession for bonus points, or for methodically searching through levels for collectible posters. Each stage delivers a bronze, silver or gold ranking for your performance and there was, for me at least, a real compulsion to give it another try. It's a good thing, too, as the first run at the campaign took me just a little over six hours.
As an aside: If you're at all able to, you must play this game co-operatively with a friend. Hearing members of G-Unit drop British idioms like "safe as houses," waging war on helicopters and completing The Worst Ending Ever is never so sublimely ridiculous as when you can share it with someone you love.
"So bad it's good" is a much rarer quality in games than in film, because they're so often excruciating to play. But 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand blends terrific gameplay with really bad ... well, practically everything else to create a final product that I love -- not like, love. I suspect you'll love it too ... just in that dark, secret way we love the things that are almost certainly making us stupider.