The Club

Review

posted 2/29/2008 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
The main single-player mode in The Club comes in the way of the Tournament, an eight-level sporting event that will have you playing against a cast of seven different sharpshooters. Now don't get me wrong, you aren't actually shooting at these different people, instead what you're doing is comparing the score you get in each of the level's six to seven events and then assigning points for each player. Obviously you want to earn as many points as possible so that you will be able to win the tournament and then move on to the next group of events.

The Club has eight different characters to choose from (six ready from the start, two that you unlock as you play through the single-player tournament), each with a crazy over-the-top look and tons of attitude. For example, one of the character's is Nemo, the scariest fisherman I've ever seen. You will also be introduced to Dragov (the most wanted criminal in Russian history), Finn (a high-stakes gambler who looks a lot like Brad Pitt in Fight Club), and Seager (an extreme sports jerk who is looking for the next big high). Like a fighting game, each of these characters has their strengths and weaknesses, so your choice is about more than just which one is the least obnoxious and annoying.

At first the events seems diverse, but it won't take long before you realize that you're essentially doing the same few game types over and over again in multiple levels. The basic game type is Sprint, which involves you shooting your way through dozens of enemies while searching for the level's exit. There are also a couple of variations on that theme, including a timed mode that makes you rush through the level before time expires.

Oddly enough, that's not the only timed mode found in The Club. Another interesting mode is called Time Attack; it involves you running laps around a level, similar to how a traditional racing game works. As you are running through the course you will need to shoot objects on the wall, kill enemies and pick up stop watch icons in order to extend your time and live to see another crazy lap. Is this mode realistic? Not in the least, there's no reason why you would be running through the level three times in real life, yet as a crazy arcade-style action game it seems to fit in just fine.

Another event is the Survivor and Siege modes, which give you a small chuck of land that you need to stay in until the time runs out. These modes feel the most like the traditional target practice shooting range, you basically stand with your back up to the wall shooting any object that pops up, runs at you, or looks like a threat. If you need life here is usually a small health item found in the level, but it will require you to run out of bounds and get back in before time runs out. Not only is the object to stay alive until time runs out, but you will also want to rack up as many points and combo chains as possible.

Regardless of what kind of event you are playing, The Club's objective is always clear. You want to come out of each of these events with as many points as you can, which means that you're going to have to rerun these courses multiple times so that you can memorize where all the enemies are, find the hidden objects, and get to the exit with a huge combo chain. What's more, you get more points depending on how you kill an enemy, so it's imperative that you try for head shots or environmental kills (gas cans, etc.). It's this combo-based scoring system that is the most appealing part of the game, which is probably why it's so tightly woven into the fabric The Club.

When you aren't competing against the other members of The Club, you can try and beat your score (and maybe even your friend's scores) in the single event section. This is where you can play all of the events you've unlocked, constantly upping your score and practicing for the next tournament. When you're not doing that you can set up a playlist so that you can play all of your favorite events in whatever order you want.

Unfortunately that's about all there is for a single person to do. The action, while compelling, is extremely shallow and repetitive. It won't take long before you realize that you're doing the same sorts of things level after level, which can get old if you're trying to play it for hours on end. Adding to the problem is the relatively short tournament, something that can be beaten on multiple difficulties in one afternoon. That's not to say that you won't have a good time going through The Club, but there's not a whole lot of meat on this animal.
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