|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Bizarre Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4, 8 online||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
May 11, 2007 - What if there was a place where you could watch people gunfight? Where you could actually watch live individuals battle for their lives, like the old Roman Gladiators? Sega and Bizarre Creations are creating a place like that, an arena of life and death battles when they release The Club for next-gen systems later this year.
The Club is a game based on an underground organization where criminals are paid to battle and online spectators gamble and watch with voyeuristic pleasure. This sets the stage for you, the player, to make your way through the various stages on the Club and compete to survive as legions of opponents try to kill you before you can kill them.
The game looks and feels like an old arcade shooter. You can see the character that you are playing as from a third person perspective a la Gears of War, but the rest of the game feels similar to a classic arcade shooters like Virtua Cop, albeit with much improved visuals. The game is fast paced and frenetic, even called "anti-stealth" by one of the developers. Your player will rush through one of eight locations, such as a prison stage, a stage set in a warehouse, and even a stage set in Venice, and each of these locations will have multiple settings depending on the game mode. The Club rewards you for different accomplishments like head shots, killing a foe immediately after a roll, using only the handgun, or even killing two foes with one bullet, and the points can be used to unlock new weapons, characters, maps, or to use as bragging rights on the leaderboards. You also gain points for killing continually, so you're encouraged to kill as swiftly as possible. The emphasis is on fast-paced and fun gunplay and less on strategy, so your combo meter depletes if you take too long between killing sessions.
There are eight available players, each of which has a different story to tell. The developers only gave the details on one character, Renwick, who is an undercover cop investigating the Club. Each character appears to have different attributes, although the differences were closely guarded as well. In addition to the differences between the characters, the game also has a number of different weapons for use as well, all of which are supposed to feel distinct, including automatic weapons, sniper rifles, mounted weapons, and sub-machine guns.
The Club's fast, fun gameplay is a perfect fit for multiplayer, and fortunately, Bizarre Creations agrees, so the game will allow up to sixteen players shooting it out online. There is also an offline four-player split screen mode as well. In addition to the multiplayer, there are a number of single player game modes, including Standard, Time Attack, Run the Gauntlet, Survivor, and Siege.
The visuals in the game are looking nice, especially the way the fire licks from the barrel of the weapons. There is a lot of detail in the character models and the environments as well, and there is a nice motion blurring effect as the characters rush between gunfights. As for the audio, some of dialogue is intentionally hokey and macho, but the sound effects for the weaponry are well done and add to the intensity of the gameplay.
The Club is coming to Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 this fall and is shaping up to be a fast-paced game with a definite arcade throwback feel to it. It also looks incredibly fun, especially to anyone tired of all of the stealthy plodding that plagues so many games lately. Anyone looking for high-intensity, arcade action should consider joining The Club.
CCC Co-Site Director
The camp that brought us Project Gotham Racing is wading into the third person action/shooter pool. Let's see if they'll float by James Ruffin
April 19, 2007 - Project Gotham Racing is a successful, wildly popular game. But can the folks at Bizarre Creations leave their high powered cars behind and produce an equally successful brutal third person action game? Word on the street is that they are in the process of doing just that, and well. It's called The Club and with Sega's help Bizarre hopes to make it the next big thing in third person action/shooter games. I've taken a peek at this work in progress.
This is not your every day third person shooter. However, the premise is fairly simple: kill or be killed, fight or die. In The Club, players will choose to control one of eight men, including an inquisitive, aggressive American cop and a remorseless Russian hunter, who are members of a brutal underground organization that arranges gladiatorial battles (with all manner of weapons) for the viewing pleasure of wealthy, slightly twisted, and super secretive clientele. There are three categories of people in this Fight Club-like scenario: the Moneymakers, the Hunters, and the Prey. The main character will fall in the latter, most unfortunate category, like Schwarzenegger in "Running Man." The Moneymakers are the movers and shakers. They arrange the matches, pick the Hunters, and fill the various pits of sadomasochism with the Prey. The Hunters are the stars of the show while the Prey are, well, self explanatory. The prototype level that was revealed to the press was impressive: a crude and cruel looking warehouse with myriad locations for mayhem to take place. When the level filled with action, it was almost overwhelming. Immediately we found our main character dodging a deluge of bullets fired from the swarm of bloodthirsty Hunters pursuing him. It made for some intense running and gunning reminiscent of a shooting game at an arcade or carnival, if you forget about the gore and the fact that the targets are shooting back. Contributing to the arcade-like feel is the fact that every successful shot from the player triggers 'points' graphics: animated confirmation of the points awarded for that shot. Special bonuses are awarded for more difficult shots or the combination of rapid shots all successfully made consecutively. Bonuses can also be unlocked by shooting spinning, often inconspicuously hidden icons scattered throughout the levels. While this significantly lowers the realism quotient it should not make the game any less fun to play.
The game's graphics were dead-on in the prototype level. Hanging chains reacted to their environments, whether swinging lethargically when bumped by the character or violently when bullied by a close explosion, light splintered through the bars in the windows with such detail that I could almost make out the floating dust in the air, and the B&G (blood and guts) graphics were, well, wildly entertaining. Gameplay is extremely fast paced, like Unreal Tournament. This is not a game where players can bet on taking cover behind walls or crates or sneaking up behind their quarry. Speed and ruthlessness are the ingredients of survival in The Club. But, such should be expected from the house that created the Project Gotham Racing series. Bizarre purports that with their strong physics engine the graphics in the final game will only improve. Existing evidence concurs: prototype levels are video game rough drafts, basic and unpolished, and The Club's prototype level looked pretty darn good. Now, the only way to go is up.
According to Bizarre, The Club's levels will be designed so that when replayed, the action occurs exactly as it did the first time, and as I've said, they will go by blindingly. That is not to say, however, that the levels will end too quickly. I only mean that the action taking place will be blistering. Players will be allowed to replay levels again and again until all bonuses are collected and achievements accomplished. Online, leader boards will be posted so players can keep track of their own achievements and monitor their standings against the worldwide Club community. Bizarre promises that the multiplayer aspect of the game will be strong, offering plenty of gaming modes and even a rich spectator mode so players can watch matches in progress. Sadly, betting on the outcome of said matches is prohibited.
The buzz is strong with this one, indeed. But given Bizarre's strong reputation for producing successful games, the buzz is both positive and warranted. This is a game worth paying attention to and as more information is released about The Club, we'll pass it along.
CCC Freelance Writer