The Club (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz

Right, enough of that sword-wafting questing rubbish. I fancied something a bit more straightforward, and The Club is nothing if not straightforward.

I've had this lying around for ages, having got it for nowt with a magazine subscription. I've dipped in and out of it, but never really stuck with it for any length of time before now. Silly me.

The Club is an arena shooter, with a difference. You pick from eight characters, and set about wreaking havoc. There's a storyline of a sort, which attempts to explain why these madmen would be running around abandoned locations shooting people, but none of that matters in the slightest. All that matters is that you have some top fun, tearing around and blowing enemies away at will.

This game comes by way of Bizarre Creations, who are better known for their Project Gotham Racing series. This could have been an interesting new series, but I don't think it's done all that well, sales-wise. It has a racing game element to it, in that many of the levels are races against the clock. The quicker you finish these levels, the higher your end-level bonus. But in order to really ramp up your scores, you'll need to master the art of combos.

Oooh... guns, guns, guns!

Combos are achieved by linking kills. Once you kill a bad guy, a combo meter will start ticking. If you can kill another one before this ticks down, you'll increase the combo meter, which is basically a score multiplier. The higher the multiplier, naturally, the higher your score for each kill. And if you can pull off a spectacular kill, say for instance a headshot whilst diving, you'll score even more highly.

The scope for high scores is enormous. This could almost make a fantastic arcade game, if it weren't for the fact that control pad style controls don't work so well in the arcade. It does take those old-school arcade stylings and play with them in a fresh new way. And with masses of levels of varying types (survival levels are also in evidence, for example), if you can put the effort in and learn where everything is in order to maximise your score, there's a mountain of entertainment here.

The Club is old-fashioned arcade fun, dressed in the clothing of a modern shoot 'em up. It's almost certainly the most testosterone-filled adrenaline rush of a game you could find, and it's all the better for that.