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"The Club", a game that shoots for style

15 февраля 2008

Last year's bumper crop of shooter video games, such as "BioShock", "Halo 3" and "Call of Duty 4", were notable for coupling bone-jarring realism with finely crafted epic stories. "The Club", coming out next week from Sega, promises something a little different.

There's no saving humanity, no detailed world to explore, no need to bone up on military strategy or tactics.

Instead, "The Club" boils down simply to this: how many people can you shoot, and how fast can you do it?

Sure, the game is wrapped in a pulpy story casting you as one of eight characters, such as an extreme-sports thrill-seeker or a burly Russian hunter, drawn into an underground blood sport for the amusement of rich fans.

That's an excuse, if one was needed, for blasting your way through a factory or fending off waves of attackers as you try to stay alive for a set period of time.

"If you're comparing to 'Gears of War', 'Halo', 'Call of Duty', they are more realistic based, while we wanted something urban, low-down, gritty," said Omar Woodley, a producer on "The Club" at publisher Sega of America.

The twist in "The Club" is that you rack up points for each kill, and by stringing kills close together, you earn bonuses that multiply your points. Extra points are awarded for stylish moves like head shots, or breaking through a door and taking out opponents on the other side.

"The Club" harkens back to arcade days when video games were about high scores and achievement was rewarded with your name flashing above those of your friends and rivals.

The game was developed by UK-based Bizarre Creations, which lifted the core game element from its well-regarded "Project Gotham Racing" driving series that rewards stylish moves like power slides, drafting and catching air.

"They have their racing heritage to look out for and they wanted to bring elements from the 'PGR' series to something new," Woodley said. "It's really targeting the action arcade-style gamer. Anybody that plays a shooter will enjoy it and anyone who plays a racer will enjoy it. But it boils down to how high a score you can get and how you can raise that."

Bizzare, which was acquired by publisher Activision last September, wasn't the first to apply racing characteristics to a shooting game.

Criterion Games, a British developer owned by Electronic Arts, did something similar with 2005's "Black", which reveled in gun-enabled destruction the same way its popular "Burnout" racing series did with spectacular car crashes.

"Black" didn't revolutionize the genre but got generally positive reviews, a precedent that looks to be repeated for "The Club", which has scored 78 from review-aggregation site Metacritic.org.

That's not in the same league as recent acclaimed shooters, but reviewers said the fast-paced action and wide selection of solo and multiplayer challenges made up for the shallow story.

"It's a one-trick pony, true. Yet does that even matter when the trick is this damn good? Of course it doesn't. Just buckle up, enjoy the ride and hang on for your life," the UK edition of "Official Xbox Magazine" said.

"The Club" goes on sale February 19 for Microsoft  Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Windows-based personal computers. It is rated "M" in the United States, meaning it is suitable for players aged 17 and over.

Источник: Reuters

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