A game titled The Club could be about any number of things. It could be about a ragtag pack of adolescent misfits who get in wacky adventures while learning important life lessons. It’s not. It could be about a team of loveable losers who come together and overcome incredible odds to win the championship. It ain’t. Instead it’s about a bunch of rich sociopaths who “employ” less affluent sociopaths to compete in a run-and-gun blood sport for cash and “prizes”. What could be more fun than that?
Boiled down to its critical elements, The Club is a third person shooter that relies on a very simple concept: kill quickly and stylishly to score lots of points. That’s pretty much all there is to it. There are levels where you run a gauntlet, levels where you run in laps around an area, and levels where you defend against an endless stream of goons. The enemies you face are assorted flavors of cannon fodder, from the exceptionally lame to the slightly less threatening than an overzealous beagle, and the key is to dispatch them in rapid succession rather than tremble in fear at their awesome might.
A throwback to the glory days of arcade gaming, The Club is all about scoring points. Killing quickly builds up your combo meter, which in turn adds a multiplier to subsequent kills. Performing stunts—like headshots, doing a roll, shooting people through objects, or polishing off a bad guy with a ricochet—also results in more points. There are eight tournaments the smash through in this fashion, each set in a different abandoned location, with around six levels each, all of which are well designed for the tasks at hand.
The biggest problem with The Club is that it is as entertaining as it is brief, which is to say very. Running and gunning through the single player campaign is great fun, but anyone proficient with shooters can saw through the whole thing in just a few hours. The four difficulty settings are fairly similar, leaving aspirations of higher scores the only true motivation for continued play. There are eight different characters, ranked in three ability categories, but there isn’t enough differentiation in how they play to make much of an impact other than aesthetically.
Multiplayer is merely okay, with most of the usual game modes represented. You’ve got your deathmatches, your team deathmatches, capture the flag, some hunter/hunted and attack/defend types, and it’s all pretty okay. It isn’t going to give Call of Duty 4 a run for its money, but it’s competent enough to shake a few extra moments of entertainment out of. However a few radically overpowered weapons, a ranked game system that doesn’t quite function as it should (like games frequently starting with uneven teams), and the fact that the multiplayer has almost nothing to do with the fast-paced style of the single player, stop it from truly separating itself from the pack.
The Club is a classic example of an excellent rental game. Its brutal, rapid pace will wear you out in a hurry, and just when you think you can’t take much more POOF! It’s over. The idea is decent, and it has a cool style matched with some interesting characters, but sadly there isn’t enough time spent fleshing it all out. What’s left is an arcade style shooter that’s fun and done in an afternoon. Multiplayer doesn’t add anything tremendous, and unless you and your buddies love gathering around for some mayhem, trying to one-up each other in high scores, The Club doesn’t possess much in the way of staying power. Rent it, love it intensely for a while, and then move on.