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Kimberley Ellis
19 Feb, 2008

The Club Review

360 Review | First rule of The Club - don't forget your membership card!
Remember the days when gaming involved only a handful of lives to pass that pesky mission? Or when bragging rights at your local arcade consisted of proudly displaying your gaming prowess through having an entry in the high score ladder? Not to mention the funny combinations of dirty words that you could make up with in three letters...those were the days. Well congratulations high score junkies, your time has now returned to the mainstream gaming scene thanks to the addictive arcade style of The Club.

The premise behind The Club is quite simple, yet it makes for some interesting gameplay. At its most primitive level, The Club is a classic run-and-gun shooter that scores your performance based on how well you can memorise the levels and how long you can string your combo together to bump up your score. But once you look past the superficial shoot 'em up features, you'll find that at its heart The Club seamlessly combines old-school arcade action with a a hint of style that is almost oozing out of many modern games. That coupled with the truck load of replay value thanks to some skillful gunslingers on Xbox Live and its emphasis on beating the most skillful players around to climb up the leaderboards (I smugly declare that I have made the top 750 players in the world!) make The Club one awesome experience - particularly if you have a couple of mates around to join in on the action.

While many modern games concentrate on delivering a complex and intriguing backstory, The Club goes back to basics - with a focus that's all about the brawling. The paper thin plot is quite inconsequential, but think along the lines of The Running Man, Fight Club and The Game and you've pretty much hit the mark. The Club is a form of bloodsport where a group of players gather in secret locations to compete in a challenges where the winner of the tournament is the last man standing.

Who will be the last man standing?

Who will be the last man standing?
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The competitors of The Club read like a veritable who's who of gaming stereotypes: from the 'roid ravaged Russian hulk to the ultra-cool Irish gambler, you'll find a fighter to suit your playing style. While each player does not have a differing set of moves, you will find that each produces a different playing experience as you are forced to play off each individual character's strengths and weaknesses to find a combination that best suits your style of play.

Along with the eight characters - two of which are only available after you have unlocked them, the game comprises of eight locations for you to get your killing spree on. It's plain to see that the emphasis here has been put on decrepit urban environments with a bomb blasted town, rusted cruise liner and a creepy country manor all making an appearance.

Each environment has its own tournament and each tournament is broken down into smaller levels which play out more like the competitions of the television show Gladiators than a standard gaming level. Each of these levels has one of five challenge types for you to compete in: Sprint will see you hotfooting it to the exit, Siege asks you to bunker down and battle wave after wave of enemy attacks until the timer runs out, Time Attack will see you fighting both against the clock and other competitors as you run laps around the level to ensure your survival, Survivor places you in a designated area where you must fight off other competitors until the timer ticks down. The final level of each tournament comprises of Run the Gauntlet, where you are required to lock-and-load as you battle through a large area Rambo style, your mission - reach the level exit before time runs out.

No, the guy in the yellow raincoat isn't the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer.

No, the guy in the yellow raincoat isn't the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer.
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If you find the tournament mode a little ho-hum, the game's multiplayer options also provide a lot of modes to sink your teeth into. Free For All game modes and team game modes, such as Team Siege (one side defends their location for as long as possible while the other team tries to capture it), Team Capture (capture the flag mode using foxes) and Team Fox Hunt (where you hunt down your opposing team's fox while protecting your own furry creature). The player limits are on the small side – eight players for online and system link games and a four player limit for split screen games, but the small servers makes for a nice change of focus as you are now pitted against real players rather than the game's AI. The most disappointing exclusion is the lack of co-op modes - the possibility of blitzing the AI with a human buddy is too sad to contemplate, as the game's style seemed to be built for that.

Before delving into the gameplay mechanics, here's a warning to you straight up. If you aim to blitz through the levels in the fastest possible time, not only will you finish the game in under three hours, you'll have a mighty boring time doing it. The Club is all about memorising your environment, anticipating where the enemies are going to come from and chaining enemy kills before your multiplier bleeds dry. Running through the game without the dizzying feeling of beating your best score will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth and a shallow feeling when you take the tournament crown without the hint of a challenge.

What works so well with the game is its combo system. This is where you weed out the casual player from the hardcore gamer as the combo system revolves around moving fast and stringing together a sequence of moves. Headshots, long distance killing, busting out a commando-roll before a kill, knocking down a door before a kill, spinning 180 degrees (thanks to the intuitive quick-turn button) into a kill, shooting through objects, ricochet kills, multi-kills, right down to using the last round in a clip to dispatch an enemy. By performing these moves over and over, you'll soon find your multiplier ticking over to great heights.

Warning: ricochet imminent.

Warning: ricochet imminent.
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Quite simply, the key to the fun that resides in The Club all stems from learning the nuances of the game and exploiting them to your advantage. Holding off on killing an enemy until the very last second and pinging the tin of hidden skullshots around each level to boost your multiplier is where the strategy lies within this game's simple soul. Like an addictive song, it slowly sinks its teeth into you and hooks you into a rhythm where the simple act of sprint, shoot, reload, becomes a hypnotic beat. Before you know it you'll find yourself thinking like a hardcore gamer; driven by the need for constant improvement and a taste of perfection. After playing The Club for a few hours, you'll quickly see what is needed to keep your score rising into the stratosphere, but the game's ultimate trick is learning exactly how to put together that impressive feat, which is exactly what gamers have come to expect out of the creative developers at Bizarre Creations - the makers behind the impressive Project Gotham Racing and Geometry Wars titles.

If the fast-paced action and skillful gameplay didn't make your heart pound, the presentation of The Club should send spikes in your adrenaline levels as it pushes the bloodsport theme even more. Thumping music, booming Quake-like announcers and brightly coloured graphics flashing on screen as you string your combo multiplier higher and higher only add to the frenzied state that the game strives to get you in.

Sadly, for all of its good points in both visual and stylised presentation, The Club is really brought down by the design of the levels. Along with the decrepit theme shining throughout each tournament stage, many gamers will find the levels too similar to each other and we all know that there is nothing more of a multiplayer buzz kill than a poorly designed level.

The Club may not set the world on fire with innovative gameplay, but its combination of a solid gameplay mechanic, streamlined control system and the ability to unleash your inner hardcore gamer make it a refreshing piece of hyper-kinetic action gaming.
The Score
The Club is so excellent at capturing the essence of old-school arcade gaming that you might find yourself trying to shove dollar coins into your console.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Club Content

The Club Review
06 May, 2008 He shoots, he scores!
The Club ships without product key
29 Feb, 2008 PC gamers unable to join.
The Club demo for Xbox 360 coming tomorrow
08 Jan, 2008 Welcome back to the club.
2 Comments
6 years ago
I've been thinking about getting this for ages, after playing the demo I don't know if it's good or bad lol, I like the idea of the score thingies arcade type of thing and split-screen should be good and online, but I might wait till budget price...
6 years ago
This game is so cool. I love the old-school feeling of it. Playing online is like COD4 but in an old-school gaming way. There's no pussy squatters who just pick you off all the time, you need to keep moving if you want to win in this game.

I love how team kill match online during the prison level is just a race to see who can get the rocket launcher, then just sit in the corner and blow the crap out of everyone because now I've found a counter to effect people from doing this. Grenades, stocked right below the bridge, grab 'em and throw 'em in there where they're squatting and it'll either force them to move or DIE!!!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  7/02/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2008

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