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Building a video game for 50 Cent sounds like a soul-crushing experience

The kid wants helicopters, he gets helicopters

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Swordfish Studios/THQ/50 Cent/Fiddy’s Kid/Vitamin Water/etc.
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand was one of the last vestiges of the mindless, licensed video games segment of the previous decade, when every movie, sport and entertainment superstar with an agent smart enough to ask for a video game adaptation got one. Somehow, Fiddy got a two-game deal, and the second one bombed hard. One of the game’s developers blames the son of the hip-hop impresario/Vitamin Water investor.

Back up: Blood on the Sand, on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 followed 2006's Bulletproof on the previous console generation. It was not a commercial success, pulling in around 56,000 copies in its first month. It was probably not gonna be a critical success, either. Bulletproof was straight guilty-pleasure irony gaming, a nice rental back in the days when GameFly was relevant.

Blood on the Sand plunged 50 Cent back into the world of some deep 007 shit, performing a concert in a Middle Eastern oil republic where he and G-Unit are paid not in money but a jewel-encrusted skull that is promptly seized by terrorists. Having none of that, Fiddy and G-Unit go off to recover their payment, guns and rocket launchers blazing.

Well, if you’re gonna have rocket launchers, you gotta have helicopters, right? 50 Cent’s child thought so, too. In the latest issue of Edge Magazine (via GamesRadar), developer Ian Flatt says his team was practically ordered to put helicopters into the game by the boy (unnamed in the story).

Blood on the Sand was built by Swordfish Studios (and published by THQ, which never met a licensed property it wouldn't make). The developers flew out to 50 Cent's home for one last milestone check-in and found that the younger Mr. Cent was effectively the final approval. The kid played the game and remarked that it needed more helicopters. "50 Cent turned around and said, 'You heard him,. Make a level with helicopters in it’” Flatt said.

Swordfish did their best to explain that, as a third-person shooter, that didn't really fit in, but 50 and his kid were having none of it. So they did. And Copters didn't add much to the game either. From Giant Bomb's review of the day:

I lost count, but you either fight four or five helicopters over the course of the game, and they're all taken down in the exact same fashion--with your rocket launcher. The last meaningful thing you do in the game? Fight yet another helicopter. You get the impression that this game could have either cut down on repetition for a shorter, tighter experience, or that the developers should have spent more time on unique encounters against meaningful foes.

As I have said repeatedly, licensors are the mothers-in-law of video gaming. Except when they're the children. Either way, it's no mystery why THQ was taking a dirt nap by the end of 2012. They were pumping god-knows-what out the door in licensing costs and answering to the whims of a 7-year-old in the game they built with it.

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