Before sandbox games and deathmatches via dial-up and Wifi battles, only one thing mattered: the high score.

Gamers from arcades to living rooms would spend hours trying to best the score of those who came before them by any means necessary. Yes, it was a much simpler time.

Enter The Club, Bizarre Creations new run-and-gun action shooter harkens back to these golden days, mixing modern day shooter elements with an old school, points-first system.

But sadly, once the nostalgic rush wears off, it will become painfully evident just how thin of a package The Club is. Imagine one of those akward moments where everything suddenly just stops, and you’re left with a big, dumb grin on your face that slowly fades away.

The premise is simple. Compete in the aforementioned club, existing only as an urban legend to most, where a small group of rich contestants competes to see who can rack up the most points by killing off criminals paid to try and off them. Points are awarded based on kills, with bonuses for style, accuracy, what kind of opponent you killed and the weapons used.

It’s a simple system, but it can also be highly addictive. You’ll find yourself replaying entire contests just to see what scores would be if you approached different situations from different angles and using different methods.

The key to The Club is to not look at the game as a shooter. It can more aptly be compared to a racing game — you know, with guns instead of cars?

In all seriousness, making this comparison allows you to see just how hectic the game can be.

Your goal is to score as many points as possible by quickly going through a very linear course, while picking up power-ups and hitting special targets for bonuses. In this sense, The Club relies heavily on strategy. What’s the clearest way to clear a room while still garnering the most points?

Sadly, the single player game can be completed in roughly 3-4 hours. While The Club was never meant to have the massive scope of a title like Mass Effect or Lost Odyssey and a bit of forgiveness can be given for the replayability, that’s still a ridiculously short time. This is made all the more disappointing that the game’s advertised five different single player game modes are all quite similar and can fairly be brought down to two or three original modes that aren’t complete retreads of the others.

Something about The Club just feels so uninspired.Something about The Club just feels so uninspired. Even the characters come off as mere stereotypes of characters from other games or action movies. There’s Finn, the hard on his luck southern gambler being chased by the mob. And there’s Adjo, the former Nigerian gangster who is looking to repent for the horrible things he’s done in the past.

While The Club’s visuals are quite solid — minus a few frame rate issues when the action becomes increasingly hectic — it still feels like a dated game. Characters move rigidly and get stuck behind invisible walls, a real issue when you take into account just how much timing plays into the core gameplay. Perhaps the developers were merely trying to level the playing field as the enemy AI is quite lacking. Sure, they’ll duck behind cover, but they don’t seem to stay there for long and you won’t have much trouble adding them to your kill count, even on the higher difficulties.

Those still obsessed with getting the highest score (I’m looking at you achievement point junkies) could find The Club to be entertaining enough for a few go-rounds, but with an amazingly short single player experience and no real story to speak of, The Club will offer little more than a diversion to most gamers.

While the original idea was executed in a passable fashion, there’s simply not enough secondary content to support it.

Quick hits:

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Players: 1-4
Launch Date: February 19, 2008

Playability: [rating:3/5]
Learning Curve: [rating:2.5]
Sound: [rating:3/5]
Graphics: [rating:3.5]
Overall: [rating:2.5]

About The Author

Joe Sinicki is Blast's Executive Editor. He has an unhealthy obsession with Back to the Future and wears cheese on his head. Follow him on Twitter @BrewCityJoe

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