Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Club

Definitely fun, definitely a rental. I picked up the Club recently and have had a blast with it, here's the low down. It's a shooter, which is no surprise since most of the mentionable 360 games out there are, but it throws all pretense of story and plot out the bullet-riddled window. Okay, there's a bit of a story, but not much. You're recruited by a powerful and rich organization who run tournaments all over the world where you run around and shoot bad guys. Unlike Halo 3, or Bioshock, you're not playing this for the storyline however, just some of the aforementioned "running around shooting bad guys". Also, unlike the two previous mentions, there's nothing sci-fi about this one; it's the modern day, real world.

You start with six player characters and unlock two more during play. They offer a lot of separation in terms of style, but I haven't noticed too much difference in terms of gameplay, except maybe faster characters die quicker. You've got some pretty standard PC's: the burly Russian, the tough cop, the insane-killer guy, the American, and the Asian. There's also a couple of departures, such as the African warlord and the Canadian extreme sports junkie.

The game is broken up into eight tournaments, each one taking place in a unique location. The visuals and art of these locations make for some great gaming terrain, and for the skilled modeler, would make good tabletop terrain as well. You fight across locales such as a rusting and abandoned cruise ship, a derelict mental asylum, and even a current eastern European war zone. Each tourney is broken up into six stages, and does well to break up the monotony from just runnin' and gunnin'. There are timed stages, survival stages, run the gauntlet stages, etc. You're doing more than just shootin' though, since it's a tournament it's all about the score, and throughout each stage there are plate metal markers hidden around, either up in the rafters, behind windows, or wherever. Shoot these for extra points and multipliers.

Multipliers are where the game's unique mechanic really kicks in. The more carnage you dish out, the higher the multiplier gets exponentially making your score sky rocket. If there's a lull in the action however (ie, you're not shooting enough of the enemy) your multiplier disappears. Shooting objects like the plate metal markers will keep your multiplier alive. Creativity in dispatching your foes also gives you more or less points. A single head shot at long range will yield more points than a full-auto burst at point blank, for example. The game definitely rewards speed and frenetic gameplay.

Gameplay itself is fast, fun, and surprisingly tense. Plus, it's very easy to pick up, and you'll be racking up double-digit multipliers in no time. I'm not that great of a shooter player, but I became pretty competent with the Club early on. I say it's a rental because you can beat most of the game in just a few hours. If you're looking into tackling all of the online and ranked matches, sure, buy it. If you just want a fun, casual shooter to play on the weekend with your friends, rent it. You can also pick up achievements very easily, tournaments don't even require you to finish in a certain place to get the ding, just finish them, dead last if you have to. You can pick up twenty achievements (320 points worth) in just a couple of hours.

Some of the game felt half-finished. There's no 'jump' feature for instance, and the environments (while rendered beautifully) weren't all that interactive. The guns are real, but you don't get the level of detail or description you would in say a Rainbow Six game. They pretty much all do the same thing, some hold more bullets, some fire faster, but there's little difference mechanically with them. This game, obviously, is not for kids. Kids shouldn't even be in the same room while it's being played. I said it was a rental (unless you want to be king of the online hill), but I picked it up at an amazing 78% off, brand new, from Amazon. This must have been a sale or something, because I see that's no longer the case, heh.

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