promises to be a thing of beauty. The uber-violent, arcade spawn of a marriage made in gaming heaven – between publisher SEGA and one of the UK’s most-lauded developers, Liverpool-based Bizarre Creations, they of Geometry Wars
and Project Gotham Racing (PGR)
fame (and, more recently, the charming XBLA title, Boom Boom Rocket
You may remember that the last time these two gaming behemoths spawned was Metropolis Street Racer
back on the Dreamcast (which eventually mutated into the PGR I
know today). The Club
is down for a release this winter on Xbox 360 and PS3 and I paid a visit to SEGA's UK HQ recently to get a good luck at the latest build of the 360 version.
When I originally clapped my eyes on The Club
back at E3 last year it stood well out from the ‘same-as, slight-twist-on-a-well-tried-genre’ crowd for two reasons. Firstly, it looked and appeared to play as a defiantly hardcore old skool arcade shooter. The Club
is unashamedly pitched as a quick-fire, adrenalin-pumping ‘gladiators with guns’ or, as SEGA’s producer told me, ‘a beat-'em up with guns’. Secondly, and most importantly, this is a genuinely original idea for a shooting game.
Sure, the game concept itself might be described (as it was) as ‘Project Gotham
with guns’ and various aspects of the game itself can be likened to other games (Time Crisis
for the running and shooting bit, Tony Hawks
for the one-more-go racking-up points bit, and so on) but the whole of The Club
turns out to be way more
than the sum of its various parts. The Club
doesn’t just represent a ‘slight twist’ on a well-tried genre.
Bizarre has taken what it considers to be the best elements from racing games, shoot-em-ups and fighting games and combined them into a truly unique, fast and fluid third-person shooting game.
Before looking at the game in any more depth though, what of the story behind it - what is this mysterious ‘Club’? As with any classic arcade shooter, the game’s storyline is ludicrous, utterly unbelievable and immediately engaging.
‘The Club’ in question is described, ominously, as, "The most secretive and exclusive organisation in the world. The deadliest game on the planet.”
It turns out that it is a long-established, extremely twisted hobby for the world’s uber-rich – you know, those high-flying rock stars, businessmen and bored politicians with more money than sense – who are willing to pay big dollar stakes betting on this morally-unscrupulous, marvellously-fun blood sport.
Participants in The Club
are either mercenaries willing to chance their lives for massive wodges of cash, or kidnapped homeless people (I did
say ‘morally unscrupulous’!) who are charged with battling it out with guns and grenades in eight different edge-city, underground type locations across the world.