You've got to give the developers of 50 Cent: Bulletproof G Unit Edition a little bit of credit. It would have been easy for them to simply port 50 Cent's lousy vanity piece of an action game verbatim to the PlayStation Portable; but instead, they've gone and redone the core game design into something that can best be described as hip-hop Gauntlet. Unfortunately, though G Unit Edition properly emulates the top-down perspective and corridor-crawling nature of such a game, there's no character progression to speak of, nor is there anything to the combat beyond a festival of irritating button mashing. Toss in the lack of a decent world map, grainy visuals, a lousy use of the 50 Cent and G Unit licenses, and a completely perfunctory multiplayer, and what you've got is a game that, while marginally better than last year's console game, is a brand of unpleasant all its own.
G Unit Edition tells the same hackneyed crime tale that the console game did, involving 50 Cent's hunt to find out who killed his homie K-Dog and why government agents are trying to frame him for murder. It's an incoherent storyline filled more with shots of 50 Cent mugging for the camera, swearing up a storm, or sitting around his pad with ladies crawling all over him than any measure of actual storytelling. The game goes so far as to use the exact same cutscenes from the console game for this version, but there's a big, honking disconnect between what these cutscenes look like and what the actual game looks like. As lame as the story is, the cutscenes at least feature some sharp-looking character models and decent camera angles. However, once you jump into the action, you'll get nothing more of this sort.
G Unit Edition shirks the third-person perspective of the console games for a top-down, isometric viewpoint. Every level is set up with various rooms, corridors, and streets for you to wander around and plenty of enemies to occupy each area. When you get within range of them, those enemies will start shooting, swinging, or launching explosives at you. To combat this, 50 has a variety of guns, blunt objects, and explosives of his own he can toss right back at them. All you have to do is press down on the right trigger to lock onto an enemy, and then hold down or repeatedly tap the X button to kill away. And that right there describes 80 percent of what you'll be doing in this version of Bulletproof. There are no tactics, no strategy, and not much challenge beyond the swarms of bad guys. The artificial intelligence of the enemies doesn't extend beyond the concept of walking back and forth while firing away with guns, so all you have to do is match their movements, and you'll have zero trouble murdering anyone in your path. Bosses are equally mundane--they use practically the same tactics, but they have bigger health bars. The one theoretically interesting mechanic to the combat is the ability to pull off one-button kill moves while standing near an opponent. Doing this cuts to a quick cutscene where 50 stabs a guy with his knife or pulls some kind of leg-sweep move to force a bad guy to the ground, before eventually stomping on his skull, or something similar. There are a decent variety of these moves but not enough to prevent you from seeing a lot of the same ones over and over again.
Most of the remaining 20 percent of the game involves you aimlessly wandering around dank, bland-looking environments on the hunt for where you're supposed to go next. The game has no real world map to speak of, instead settling for a little minimap that sits in the upper corner of the screen. This map is good at telling you what's several feet outside your visual range, but that's it. If the icon you're trying to find is outside that range, you'll have to meander about ugly rooms and corridors until you eventually find it. Fortunately, the levels are mostly quite linear, but it's easy to get turned around and inadvertently backtrack when you go behind a piece of scenery that forces the camera to reposition itself.
The single-player campaign is short, repetitive, and no fun beyond the first few minutes of play. Not even the unlockable music, videos, and G Unit-brand clothing make it worth playing through, especially considering how grainy the videos look and how mundane the loops for the 50 Cent tracks are. One feature this version of Bulletproof offers that the last one didn't is multiplayer, but apart from being new, there's not much good to say about it. The game includes modes based on basic deathmatch, capture the flag, and similar multiplayer concepts, but the key problem here is that multiplayer suffers from the same lame, repetitive action that the single-player game does. Adding friends to the mix via ad hoc to suffer through the same mediocre combat doesn't make the combat any less mediocre.
Apart from the in-game visuals looking nothing like the cutscenes, the basic look of the game is painfully bland. Character models are small and grainy, and when the camera zooms in on them for the quick-kill moves, the ugliness really shows. Environments repeat a lot of the same key themes over and over again, which is to say they are dirty, poorly lit, and kind of unpleasant. Whether you're in a meth lab, a ghetto, or a mansion, you always feel like you're running through the same lame corridors and rooms, looking at the same recycled set pieces. The frame rate and animation are decent, though you'll run into more than a few issues with characters clipping through one another during combat. Most of the audio seems recycled from the console games, so it's unsurprising that it suffers in most of the same ways as those versions. The voice acting is mostly competent, if woefully overplayed, but again, the soundtrack consists of cheap loops of 50 and G Unit beats that get old exceedingly quickly. Most of the gun effects are also underwhelming.
Admirable as the shift in game design is, 50 Cent: Bulletproof G Unit Edition still fails to create a compelling action game. The complete and utter lack of depth makes the combat almost criminally boring, the levels are a chore to sift through, and everything else feels recycled from the last game. While you can argue that G Unit Edition is better than the original Bulletproof, all you're talking about is a lighter shade of lousy. The PSP has plenty of quality action games to its name, so feel free to skip right over this one.