IGN Review of 50 Cent: Bulletproof - G Unit Edition
The console release of 50 Cent: Bulletproof wasn't met with the best reviews ever, but that didn't stop the game from selling in the millions. One way that the game did live up to expectations was its use of the license. Featuring a ton of videos and music, great cutscenes and more, the game made nearly perfect use of 50 Cent and his crew, even if the fundamental gameplay surrounding the presentation wasn't all that great.
So here we have 50 Cent: Bulletproof G Unit Edition for the PSP. Developed by High Voltage, the game does away with the third-person shooter mechanics and instead employs a top-down view that's somewhat akin to what you'd find in a dungeon crawler. While this still doesn't elevate the series into the realm of a great game, the main draw here for many people is still the surrounding presentation, and in that the game comes through in spades.
First and most importantly though, let's talk about how the game actually plays. The top-down view certainly fits the PSP better than a third-person camera would have (due to the system only having a single analog stick), but the bird's eye camera system has a number of flaws. Though you're able to swivel the camera around 50, you basically need to stop everything to do so as you need to hold L and then press left or right on the D-Pad to spin your view. The camera is situated rather close to 50, and you're not able to zoom in or out, so it can be very difficult to navigate about the environment. The in-game map doesn't help much either because while it gives you a slightly larger view of the area, it isn't exactly accurate. Some large objects, like immovable machinery and such that block your path, don't show up on the map. To make matters worse, even though your G Unit Mobile device has pretty much everything else you'd need, you aren't able to bring up a full-screen view of the area. In other words, you'll find yourself wandering down alley after alley, hallway after hallway and hoping that you're headed in the right direction simply because you can only see 10 feet in front of you.
The fighting mechanics have numerous problems as well. While the game is mostly fair in that enemies won't shoot at you from off-screen, the camera is close enough that enemies are right on top of you by the time you can see them. This isn't too big of a deal, but it again hints at the fact that the camera was poorly implemented. The main drawback to combat however is that it's flat-out boring. When you have a pistol in your hand, all you need to do is hold R to lock on and repeatedly tap X until everyone on the screen is dead. The same goes for boss fights - so long as you have enough energy and pain killers, you're going to win every time. There really isn't any strategy or skill needed in the game at all, so after about half an hour it feels as if you've seen just about everything there is to see as far as combat is concerned.
The counter-kills and ability to hold soldiers as human shields mixes things up just a tad, but while the human shield mechanic works just fine, the counter-kill system has a major flaw in that when you steal the enemy's weapon, you automatically switch to using it. If you're running around with a pistol and perform a counter-kill on someone with a nightstick, or worse, someone who's bare-handed, you'll have to manually switch back to your pistol afterwards. There's an option for turning off auto-switching, but this only applies to weapons you pick up off the ground and not those nabbed via a counter-kill. A slight annoyance with regards to this is that the only way you can take a weapon from an enemy is with a counter-kill; they won't drop it if you kill them from a distance.
50 Cent: Bulletproof G Unit Edition includes a number of multiplayer games for up to four players, with CPU bots filling in for empty slots if you so please. Game types range from things like Capture the Flag to Oddball to standard Deathmatch, all with alternative names, of course. While the modes offer plenty of goal variety, the problems with the singleplayer most definitely make their way into the multiplayer and keep it from being any fun. Some modes are downright annoying, like Slaughter the Pig (a.k.a. Oddball), where it's easy to load up on pain killers to regenerate health and simply run away once you've nabbed the flag. Since it's hard to shoot anyone off-screen, taking out the flag carrier is quite difficult, so the person who starts closest to the flag has an enormous advantage over everyone else and will almost always win.
While the game's mechanics and view have drastically changed, the storyline and level progression has not, which in this case is a good thing. You still play as 50 Cent, who after receiving a distress call from a friend and trying to help him out, gets a clip unloaded into his back. After fighting off death, you work to find out why any of this happened in the first place. The story isn't the best crime thriller of all time, but it's told really well and the voiceover work from the entire cast is very good.
Just as the game follows the same storyline, including using the exact same cutscenes that you'll find on the PS2, the hub formula of the hood works the same. Between missions, you'll be able to spend cash you pick up from gangstas you take out to buy guns from Grizz (Dr. Dre), earn new counter-kills from Popcorn, buy videos and music from DJ Whookid and more. It's a system that works pretty well, and being that most of what you'll buy is either presentation-oriented (music and videos) or things that you can pick up in levels (guns, ammo and armor), it's almost entirely optional. In other words, you're never forced into spending your cash on any one item, allowing you to pick and choose what you want to buy, when you want to buy it. If you'd prefer to save up for a new video rather than load up on ammo for the next mission, things might be a tad harder, but you won't feel penalized for doing so.
The best part about the G Unit Edition of Bulletproof is the ability to play any of the songs or videos you've bought right from the main menu. After you've gotten through the startup screens, the front end acts something like a portable media player, allowing you to view all of the game's media content without having to navigate through the hood and play them from DJ Whookid's van like in the console release. The video and audio quality is rather good and certainly lends quite a bit of value to the overall package for 50 Cent fans.
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