12 February 2010

The Club - Xbox 360, PS3

Is it my dedication to heralding forgotten titles that drives me or is it the fact that I am woefully behind in my gaming because I can only play for so long before my wife and child reclaim me for their own selfish agenda (such as parenting, being a good husband and cooking things on the grill for them)? Who knows?
What matters is The Club, despite being quickly forgotten last year, is a fun game from SEGA that I don't want you to miss.
What if a developer known for racing games made a shooter? The answer is The Club. Bizarre Creations, the Project Gotham folks, apply the seat-of-the-pants racing sensibilities to this shooter and the result is a game unlike any other I've played. It rewards quick reflexes and gives new meaning to the term "twitchy" gameplay. There is no time to stop and think, no time to hide and snipe, and no time for love, Dr. Jones.
You gotta run and gun in this game, and even that time-honored expression doesn't fully embody the gameplay of The Club. (A side note: Anyone who has played the Project Gotham games is familiar with attention to detail and the clean graphical style for which Bizarre Creations is known. This is also evident in The Club. The opening cut-scenes – in which the characters are introduced – are excellent. The crisp graphics and lighting effects are also a joy to behold. What's best is that the graphics – while excellent – don't get in the way. Since this is not a game in which you are rewarded for stopping to smell the roses, that's a good thing.)
Once you choose a character – I recommend one that's fast – you are put through a series of shooting galleries in elaborate settings with a varying set of rules. There is some variety here, but every game involves you quickly killing as many enemies as possible in a timely manner. You are rewarded for creative kills and encouraged to kill quickly and repeatedly by a combo meter that keeps filling up as long as you're dishing out the death. If you let too much time pass without a kill – or by shooting one of the many "skull shots" littered around the game arena – your combo meter will drop. It drops fast and it's one of the features that keeps the adrenaline pumping while you play. (It's like trying to keep your line tight while you head to the next checkpoint in a racing game.)
There's a skeleton of a story here but that's not why you're playing The Club. You're playing it because it's a fine test of speed and accuracy that rewards folks who like to retry a mission until they nail it. For the rest of us – casual killers, if you will – The Club is a fun pick-up-and-play game that offers a nice diversion from the typical shooter.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

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