The Club (video game)
British cover art
The Club is a third-person shooter video game developed by Bizarre Creations and published by Sega. The story of the game centres on The Club, an underground blood sport controlled by a wealthy elite who place their bets on who will survive the gladiatorial-style combat.
The player chooses from a roster of characters who are forced to compete in The Club, a modern form of gladiatorial combat. There are 8 characters to choose from: Renwick, Dragov, Nemo, Seager, Adjo, Kuro, Finn, and Killen.
The Club is played from a third-person perspective. The player must make their way through a level as quickly as possible, or defend one location and survive attacks from respawning enemies for a set amount of time. Gameplay is centred on a score mechanic where each kill acts as a bonus multiplier. Various kill methods, such as ricochets, head shots, and long range shots earn extra points. After each kill, the player has several seconds to get another kill before the bonus multiplier starts to reduce. This interval also reduces the higher the multiplier gets. Icons are scattered throughout each level, offering bonuses. Weapons, ammunition and health are present but the player is not rewarded for picking them up. The Club incorporates elements from racing video games, including time attack events.
The game includes eight multiplayer modes, with online leaderboards to compare scores. Online games can feature up to seven opponents on-line, or four-player local split screen.
The lead designer of the game was Matt Cavanagh who described the title as "a racing game with guns." At first the game was literally a shooting gallery with limited AI. After 6 months of development a new prototype was created with an emphasis on scoring rather than narrative. The gameplay was designed before any setting and back story was created. Many publishers declined to take on the title before Sega chose to back it.
The title was released globally on February 8, 2008. The demo was added to the PlayStation Network in the EU region on 27 December 2007, Xbox Live on the 23 January 2008, and on the North American PlayStation Network on the January 24, 2008. Composer Richard Jacques wrote the score for the single player levels, Chris Chudley from Audioantics wrote the score for the multiplayer levels, while Jesper Kyd scored the main theme.
The Club received positive reviews. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell complimented it as "a shooter that turns tired genre conventions around with a bullet to the shoulder." but stated that it would be "divisive" due to the game's run and gun mentality, which went against the contemporary trend towards tactical shooters. Bramwell pointed out that The Club "does for the third-person shooter what no one else has even bothered trying to do: moving it closer to the 2D shoot-'em-ups of old in a manner that appeals anew."
Andrew Reiner, writing for Game Informer, mentioned Bizarre Creations' background and its influence on The Club. " The speed-first mentality of the racing genre is cleverly infused into the framework of a run-and-gun shooter...And to truly capture the racing atmosphere, some of the levels have players running laps in specific environments...It may sound odd, but the racing shooter formula works amazingly well." Reiner called The Club "A nice change of pace, and hopefully the beginning of a new genre."
GamePro reviewer Cameron Lewis wrote "What might be most impressive about The Club is that despite the many disparate elements that it cherry-picks from genres as diverse as racing, skateboarding, and first-person shooters, the whole never bears the disjointed feel of a Frankenstein creation."
IGN reviewer Alec Meer stated that the scoring system "will prove an immediate turn-off for some." and went on to blame the "fairly dismal" graphics for putting potential players off, saying "It's about how it plays, not how it looks. But if it looked better, more people would want to play it." He praised the gameplay as "it does the job it sets out to do very well." but said the game only had "specialist appeal."
VideoGamer.com's Tom Orry praised The Club as "a game packed full of style, brimming with replay value and demanding of the most skilful players around. This is an arcade shooter like you've never seen before...The Club is one of the finest examples of bringing the essence of arcade gaming to modern consoles."
- A. Fitch, Tyler, and Gord, "The Club: Stick with the guest pass," Electronic Gaming Monthly 226 (March 2008): 83.
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- Feb 2008, p.88