Developer: High Voltage Soft.
Release Date: Q3 2006
And lo, the seas did run red with blood, and the wolf did lie with the ewe, and the oceans did freeze. The seventh seal was undone, and an army of howling spirits was released upon the world entire, to destroy and undo all that man has built.
50 Cent: Bulletproof on PSP doesn’t look all that bad, guys.
Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are. This is in stark contrast to the PS2/Xbox title, which overcame the critical equivalent of mob violence to move something like one and a half million copies.
The PSP version is a brand new game, perhaps thankfully. Instead of a third-person shooter, it’s a top-down hack-and-slash game by the team that brought you Hunter: the Reckoning. Now you, as 50 Cent, can and probably will go on a rampage of revenge throughout “the ‘hood,” and all points beyond.
After his friend is kidnapped, 50 Cent sets out to investigate the problem and put things right. Unfortunately, this brief flirtation with justice results in somebody putting nine slugs in his chest. As one might expect, this just kind of annoys him, and after a brief period of recuperation, 50 Cent is now out for revenge.
When he’s out and about, 50 Cent’s adventures resemble a game like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, although it’s powered by a new and different engine. Each neighborhood in the city counts as a “dungeon,” complete with crates and barrels for you to smash, and a population of gun-wielding enemies for you to brutalize.
Everyone from rival thugs to armored goons want a piece of 50, and they will attempt to obtain this with violence. You can take them out with your bare hands, a variety of melee weapons (a two-by-four, a steel pipe, a machete, a baton, and so on), pistols, shotguns, submachineguns, assault weapons, or frag grenades. 50 can also grab an enemy to use him as a human shield, and while he’s got him, interrogate him for whatever he might happen to know.
More importantly, if your stamina meter’s at least half full, you can opt to instantly drop an enemy with one of thirty-six counterkills. These function kind of like super moves or smart bombs, allowing you to dispatch a goon with his own weapon; the kind of counterkill you get depends on the weapon your target was holding. If they’re barehanded, 50 will sweep out their legs before crushing their skulls underfoot; if they come at him with a machete, 50 will snatch it from their hands before burying it in their torsos. It’s gory, crowd-pleasing, undoubtedly psychologically revealing fun for the whole family.
Once you’ve dropped an opponent, 50 can kick them a few times to shake them down for valuables; if you took the guy out with a counterkill or after using him as a shield, you’ll get more cash. These treasures, whether they are monies or bits of jewelry, appear to fly directly out of a downed enemy’s crotch. There is a secret of the universe concealed within this.
These monies can be traded in at the ‘Hood, a neutral area that you can return to between stages, where you can buy armor, weapons, and ammo. With enough cash, you can outfit 50 with a full wardrobe of Marc Ecko gear, from tank tops to hoodies; as a matter of fact, Bulletproof features a number of exclusive items from Ecko’s forthcoming fall and holiday lines. You can also purchase expensive but impressive cheat codes for small fortunes by speaking to Iceberm, Eminem’s lawyer; pick up 50 Cent tracks and UMD-quality music videos from DJ Whookid; and train up your skills by purchasing new counterkills from Popcorn, the unhinged resident of an abandoned theater.
Bulletproof also features a number of multiplayer modes, although only in ad hoc mode. Up to six players, whether they’re humans or bots, can play against or with each other in one of a variety of gametypes, from the familiar (Urban Warfare is a deathmatch mode; Smash and Grab is, simply, Capture the Flag) to the brand-new (Breaking and Entering challenges one team to defend their cars from the other; King of Bling is a deathmatch that places the focus not on how many kills you get, but how much cash you have at the end of the game). Each gametype will bring five or six new environments with it, and you can choose one of sixteen characters. Among them are 50 himself, G-Unit, several of the bosses from singleplayer mode, and both Dr. Dre and Eminem, who lent their faces and voices to characters within the game.
Basically, what we’ve got here is a dungeon crawler without dungeons, with a cast and soundtrack packed with rappers. It helps that it doesn’t take itself at all seriously, and that the onscreen action is a decent representation of a solid genre. Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop or you hate it with the burning passion of a thousand suns, no gamer can deny the appeal of beating people with a pipe, or kicking someone until candy cash falls out. Thus, both fans of hack-and-slash and 50 Cent – two great tastes that… you… really shouldn’t taste – should be keeping an eye out for the PSP version of Bulletproof. It’s really not that bad!
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