The Club – Xbox 360

Box art

Review by Johnus Maximus

Released in February 2008 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, The Club, developed by Bizarre Creations and published by Sega, is a foray into a seedy underground club of guns, violence and points multipliers.

In a world already packed to the brim with quality first person shooting games, The Club actually provides a refreshingly unique cross genre gaming experience and can be enjoyed by both hard-core and casual gamers alike.

The goal of The Club is to provide it’s patrons with an experience like no other, to be put to the test across a series of deadly combat challenges, where the winner is the one who can out-run, out-gun and out-score their opponents.

Starting out you have access to six of the clubs members: Finn – a gambling man with a large debt to pay off, Dragov – Russia’s most deadly ex-convict, Renwick – a disgraced cop trying to get to the bottom of The Club’s secrets, Kuro – undercover law enforcement agent posing as one of the worlds deadliest terrorists, Seager – adrenaline junkie looking for a new high, and finally Adjo – forced against his will to play to protect those he loves

As you descend further into this world of relentless killing you can unlock a further two characters: Killen – a previous survivor of the club playing to save his daughters life, and Nemo – the demented mask wearing killer that is the clubs dirty little secret.

Each player has differing attributes of speed, strength and stamina, so there is an element of strategy to your choice of character. Sadly though, it seems that girls aren’t allowed in this club – there are no female competitors or enemies, perhaps it is because they have their own club (I smell a sequel opportunity right there Bizzare), or possibly just a development oversight.

Having a multitude of both single and multiplayer features, there is plenty of choice as to what you do in The Club. For the solo player you have the choice of taking part in one of the clubs illustrious Tournaments, play a Single Event, or set up and play a custom playlist in Gunplay Mode.

Seager and Nemo
Guns don’t kill people, Seager and Nemo do

The tournaments take place at various secluded locations across the globe, and pit you against the other challengers to see who can score the highest on each of the six events. There are eight tournaments in total, one starter – the Steel Mill, and seven more to unlock, including an ocean liner, an abandoned district in Venice and an English manor house.

Each tournament can be played at one of four levels of difficulty, as these difficulty levels increase you have to compete at a higher scoring level, and each event will have more enemies who have better shooting abilities.

There are five different types of event that you will be playing in these tournaments, these are: Sprint – plot your course to the level exit and try to amass as many points as possible, Siege – survive the time limit and score high whilst being trapped in a small area of a level, Time Attack – race laps and earn extra time by killing your enemies, Survivor – this game type is the same as Siege, but with a larger playing area, and finally Run The Gauntlet – the same as Sprint, but with a time limit to watch out for.

Although it doesn’t take much time to get through the tournaments at first, there’s plenty of replay value due to both the extra difficulty settings and also because of the bullet awards for each – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – which is a scoring system similar to that in Bizarre’s Project Gotham Racing series.

The Single Event mode allows you to play any of the levels you’ve completed and unlocked in Tournament Mode and try to get the best score you can. Again, you have the scoring bullets to aim for, but added to the sense of prestige is the Xbox live leaderboards which take note of your highest scores for each levels and rank you against every Club member in the world.

As each level is quite short, it’s easy to get addicted to trying to set high scores and get the bullet awards. Also, playing in this mode can help you lay down a firm knowledge of enemy positions which will help your tournament replays.

The final mode available to the solo player, as if there wasn’t enough to satisfy them already, is the Gunplay mode, which allows you to build your ultimate playlist from the selection of levels, weapons and game types that you have unlocked.

There is an element of storytelling in the solo game, as mentioned previously each character has their own back story and there are cut scenes enhancing this story between each of the tournaments, but I found the whole thing unnecessary as it doesn’t really add anything extra to the game, it just feels like a storyline has been added to possibly help justify the unrealistic violence in the game, which certain sections of mainstream media might view as being harmful in some way.

Renwick
Renwick – he was only three days away from retirement…

Beyond the single player experience, The Club has a wealth of multiplayer options. You can play with up to 3 extra players on your Xbox, play by system link for up to 8 players, and of course, take the game experience onto Xbox Live.

The events available in multiplayer are similar to the single player mode, with both free for all and team based game types to choose from. You’ll have free run of the same levels as in single player, but depending on the party size and game type, certain areas may be closed to help keep the action closely packed together.

The eight game types are as follows: Kill Match – every man for himself, first to hit the required score wins, Team Kill Match – first team to hit the required score wins, Score Match – every man for himself, first to the required score wins, Hunter Hunted – kill to become the Hunted, then evade everyone to score, Team Fox Hunt – one person on each team is The Fox, kill the opposing teams fox to score, Team Fox Objective – this time you have to get your teams fox into the other teams base, Team Siege – take turns attacking and defending a base, Team Skull shot – take out the other teams skull markers before they take out yours.

The multiplayer experience is a lot of fun, thanks to the easily accessible controls and gameplay modes, and can provide a good evening of laughter if you invite some friends round. I like the fact that you can activate handicaps for the better players to keep things on a level par, it’s always more fun for less experienced players if they have a chance of staying alive.

Playing the game online is also a lot of fun, it’s really easy to jump straight into a game lobby and join other players. If you prefer you can host a game and select the relevant settings you want to play with. Despite the easiness of getting onto games online though, it can get a bit annoying as to the amount of times people quit when you’re beating them.

Graphically, the game looks very good, Bizarre have done a cracking job giving the characters a distinct look, and making the weapons you use and the environments that you fight in seem very realistic. The games music also helps to create an atmosphere of tension and excitement, and is a valuable part of the game experience.

To conclude, I have to say that I was very impressed by The Club. While it may not the best FPS on the market right now, this game has enough originality in its concept to warrant a try, and once you try it you’ll be hooked.