Cheap Ass Review – The Club
Imagine an corporation so powerful that only a few alive know of its existence. A corporation with the power to make people ‘disappear’. The corporation headhunts outsiders to fight in an illegal, underground bloodsport that rewards violence, tenacity and blood-lust. Akin to the ancient gladiators of old, these outsiders are thrown into an arena and forced to fight; with only one choice available, kill or be killed.
Mafia Bosses, Celebrities, Company CEO’s, Drug Barons and Dotcom Millionaires; they all rub shoulders in the bloodsport ran by the corporation, The Club. It’s the most exclusive organization in the world, the most deadly of games; and you are the main star. The entry fee is more than most earn in a lifetime, the membership has no exit clause; once you enter The Club, you don’t leave unless it’s in a body bag.
The Club Trailer
|Cheap Ass Review – The Club|
The Club is a third-person, arena-based shooter from Sega. Originally released in February 2008, The Club promised to expose gamers to a new breed of shooting game but failed to fulfill its goals with many critics and players tossing it aside after just a few hours. Stepping away from the typical progression-based mechanics that we experience in the majority of shooting games, The Club attempted to create a new sub genre with a shooting title that revolved around high scores and self improvement. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the gaming shelves are not suddenly filled with score-based shooting games, so where did The Club go wrong?
Well, where do I start? It would be easier to mention what The Club got right, so I’ll go from there. Players take on the role of the vicious gladiators of our time, entering The Club with a variety of characters that include a Gambler, a Siberian Hunter, an Assassin and a selection of other characters from the dregs of society. This is one aspect of The Club that actually works; there’s six characters available to choose from at the beginning, with a further two being unlocked during game play. Each character has a unique background story, which is explained during the lengthy cut-scene at the beginning of the game; and each also has their own style of combat. At least that’s what the game says. Each characters uses a 3-stat based combat system, with each being ranked on Speed, Strength and Stamina. Although the game makes it clear which areas each character excels in, it’s practically impossible for the actual player to notice any serious differences. Sure, one character may sprint a tiny bit faster and another may take one extra bullet before death; but outside of appearances the differences are so minor they’re almost pointless.
So once you’ve chosen your character, based purely on appearance and personality as nothing else really matters, you get into the game itself. There are 8 locations in the game, with each unlocking in a typical progression-based reward system. Players can expect to fight it out on the streets of Venice, aboard an Ocean Liner and a variety of other unique settings; with each location supporting a variety of game modes.
The available modes are Sprint, Siege, Gauntlet, Survivor and Time Attack. Although each game mode offers a distinct form of game play, the actual in-game mechanics don’t vary enough to avoid a quick feeling of repetition. Sprint will have you running through the level from start to finish, killing as many enemies along the way. Survivor will have you trapped in a small area, having you kill as many enemies before you die or the time expires. Gauntlet has you running through the level from start to finish with a reduced timer, with the main goal of killing as many enemies before you reach the end. Notice a pattern? You’re forced to compete in 5 different game modes on each map before you’re able to progress through to the next level, aiding the feeling of repetitive combat with a repetitive setting. The level designs do vary enough to warrant a small amount of excitement when you finally progress to the next stage, but this soon wears out after playing another 3-4 game modes in the same setting.
Now we move on to what should have been the games most defining aspect, the high-score based combat. In true run and gun fashion you’ll launch yourself through mission after mission, attempting to chain together as many kills as possible to beat the score set by your opponents. The scoring system is actually something The Club manages to get right, rewarding players with higher scores for more skilful combat. Killing your enemy with a head shot, performing a roll before shooting or using the environment to take out your foes all adds to your combo meter; the in-game mechanic that determines your final score. If you remain out of combat for long periods your combo meter will start to bleed, reducing the multiplier you earn for each action. Obviously killing helps to remove the combo bleed but there’s also hidden items on each level that you can shoot, instantly refilling your combo meter and earning a nice bonus to your overall score.
Sadly, the actions you have to perform in order to achieve a high score are so poorly done it becomes almost pointless. The mechanics of the gun combat are so dated, even for a game released in 2008. There’s a limited selection of weaponry in the game and outside of the fire-rate, I didn’t really notice that much of a difference between the guns. The sounds are all almost identical and so poor that they literally offended my ears every time I hit the trigger. I could be standing 2ft away from my enemy with a fully loaded shotgun, aiming 1 pixel above his head I expected a head shot, but no. The shotgun spread is non-existent half of the time and then hugely exaggerated the rest of the time. The same can be said for grenades; I could kill an enemy standing 15ft away with a poorly thrown grenade, while enemies literally on top of it survive without a scratch. This lack of consistency spreads to practically all of the weapons and enemies within the game, creating a frustratingly repetitive experience regardless of the approach you take. The movement is stiff, the animations are poor and overall, the combat just isn’t good enough to be a focal feature of the game.
The game does support both offline and online multiplayer but I wasn’t able to review it due to a serious lack of a vital ingredient….Other players.
It won’t keep you occupied for more than a couple of hours but the scoring system does hold promise for this unexplored sub-genre.
|out of 10||Reviews Explained|
The UI is simple and well presented
It’s not a new release and the graphics don’t do a good job of hiding it. Reminiscent of the graphics from the end of the PS2 era, The Club is as ugly as it is shallow
|3||Soundtrack & Sound Effects:
Poor gun sounds, repetitive dialogue and poor music are just some of the sound issues that plague The Club
The lack of serious gun mechanics and variety really hinder any differences between levels
The constant urge to top your previous score is drive enough to keep some people going for hours
(out of 10, not an average)
This review was written using a purchased copy of the Playstation 3 version of The Club.