4. 50 Cent: Bulletproof
2005 | PS2, Xbox
Copies sold in US: Close to one million
Average score: 49%
While not quite as bad as bottom-feeding trash like 25 to Life or Made Man, 50 Cent: Bulletproof is a third-person shooter so generic that it would have been completely ignored if rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's face and music hadn't been plastered all over it. Essentially a marketing tool disguised as a hyperviolent gangsta fantasy, Bulletproof starred Fiddy as a tough-as-nails urban vigilante out for revenge after some military-grade drug thugs shoot him nine times. Ultimately just another unsatisfying Max Payne ripoff, Bulletproof challenged players to shoot blurry-looking goons, collect random junk and blow stuff up to unlock songs and videos, and that's really about it.
The company line: "50 Cent: Bulletproof is gritty urban action as 50 Cent and G-Unit shoot their way through an army of drug dealers. … It's a web of corruption, double-crosses, and shady deals - but 50 has the guts and the ammo to shoot through it and get the men who almost killed him."
What the critics said: Few reviewers had anything nice to say about Bulletproof, and most immediately tore into the game for its bland design and endlessly repetitive shooting. Eurogamer called it "superficially slick… a third-person shooter that stumbles well under the benchmarks set for the PS2," while Electronic Gaming Monthly was more succinct: "As a game, Bulletproof is a disaster."
Most reviewers zeroed in on the game's crummy, inaccurate aiming, with PSM declaring that "you'll repeatedly find yourself emptying a full clip to kill a dude at point-blank range." Others took issue with the invincible-but-rock-stupid G-Unit soldiers who'd follow Fiddy around, and many seemed to have an underlying problem with the game's soulless glorification of street violence and all things Fiddy (which the man himself didn't help when he publicly encouraged parents to buy his M-rated game for their kids). Any way you slice it, though, Bulletproof's murky environments and mindless, thuddingly dull gunplay should have sent it straight to bargain bins.
Why you bought it anyway: Because you're an admirer of Curtis Jackson's musical oeuvre and you wanted to pop caps as the man himself, reviews be damned. Or you just really, really wanted to watch Eminem portray a cop. One or the other.
What went wrong? It's pretty clear that most of the money went toward Bulletproof's presentation - which is actually pretty nice, if you're a Fiddy fan - and what was left went toward hiring Genuine Games, a developer whose only other project was the insulting Fight Club game. If anything, that's an indicator Bulletproof was never really intended to be good in the first place. The game has some cool ideas, like close-up fatalities, Fiddy's ability to shoot from behind cover and the ever-present G-Unit sidekicks, but they're all poorly implemented, and none of them really feel necessary. In short, it would have needed more time, more money and more talent behind its design to be more than a promo item for 50 Cent's ego.
Most infuriatingly positive quote: Our UK brethren at Official PlayStation Magazine 2 believe that "Bulletproof is like G-Unit's music translated direct to PS2. You'll either completely love it or miss the point entirely." So if we don't love it, it's not because Bulletproof is a crappy shooter. It's because we missed the point, thereby not only redeeming the author's awful taste in games, but elevating it to a level above our own. Genius!