|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 Jonathan Marx
The Club is a fast paced, gallery-like, third person shooter from Sega and Bizarre Creations. The single player Tournament mode is shallow, but quite fun especially for the first several hours. Sadly, the multiplayer battles both on and offline do leave something to be desired. Don't get me wrong, the execution of the presentation, controls, and gameplay is all very solid, but most shooter fans will probably wish for a bit more. All in all, it's a fun game with a winning concept that could evolve into a great franchise. As for right now, you'll be better off waiting till you can find it used.
The Club is a secret organization funded and followed by the world's twisted elite. The Club brings together eight gun savvy contestants from varied backgrounds and sends them individually through an arena full of gang bangers, chumps, and wannabes intent on killing the competitor. This is known as Tournament mode, where the participants are put through a kill or be killed gauntlet spanning eight international locations and 49 total levels. To advance from city to city you'll have to survive a Sprint, Siege, Time Attack, Survivor, and Run the Gauntlet phase with some phases having to be replayed in a new zone of the arena. The objective in each of the five events is not only to stay alive, but also to accumulate serious points for your suave killing style, difficulty of the shot, shot placement, ammo efficiency, and total health. If you can link kills one right after another, then your point totals will be multiplied exponentially until your combo begins to fade because you've taken too long to find your next kill. If you accumulate enough points after every event to place, you will be awarded with a gold, silver, or bronze bullet to commemorate your achievement.
Outside of the need to survive and accumulate points, each event has its own distinct characteristic. For example, you'll have to Sprint through death zones and make it to the exit without getting killed or even defend your ground while waves of enemies lay Siege to your position, etc. All of the tournament game types are fun and work well together to give the feeling that you're stuck in a movie like Running Man, Hard Target or Surviving the Game, however, the lack of a real story does make it feel trivial. There is also a less formal single player mode called Gunplay. Gunplay lets you play individual levels after unlocking them in Tournament or even create a playlist of your favorite locations and event types.
Disappointingly, multiplayer modes are not very good. The game only supports maximum of eight players via Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network or a system link. Moreover, it doesn't let you get multiple people online from any one system. In other words, if you've got a friend over to your house, you'll have to take turns switching the controller back and forth if you like to play online. That's a terrible oversight that needs to be corrected in an update patch. Shooters are meant to be shared and not just over a headset. The game does support a four player split screen, but if you're still doing that you might as well be playing Golden Eye. Besides, the levels are too big and they eat up just four players. Furthermore, the massive life meters and health kits make unskilled players annoyingly decent. It's a handicapping feature that I thought was out of vogue.
Fortunately, there are a lot of multiplayer game types from which to choose. The list of eight distinct game styles really is quite impressive. These modes are divided between free for alls and team matches. Free for alls include Score Match, Kill Match, and Hunter/Hunted. Score Match has you rack up the points until you reach a pre-determined total; Kill Match simply has you rack up the kills; and Hunter/Hunted is a game of tag where one player earns points by seeing how long they can survive. Team matches include Team Siege, Team Skullshots, Team Capture, Team Kill Match, and Fox Hunt. These modes allow players to choose from capture the flag style games, to classic kill matches, and even the defense of strategic locations.