Previews

The Club

The membership costs are murder

Stealth? That was last year. The places where members of The Club choose to do their business - abandoned prisons, disused mills, Venetian back-alleys - might look like perfect venues for an ultraviolent round of hide 'n' seek, but nothing could be further from the participants' minds. This is pure run 'n' gun.

With half a dozen of the creative minds behind Xbox hit Project Gotham working on The Club, perhaps the best description of it is a racing game with victims instead of corners. The dynamic is simple: each venue has five or six short courses, each designed to be sprinted through in two or three minutes, tops. They're fairly linear, with the occasional tantalising shortcut on offer for anyone who fancies barging through a boarded-up door or hurdling a fence. The real creativity comes in where - and how - you kill your enemies.

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A typical level might start like this: one guard, facing away from you, minding his own business. Cap him at leisure - but once he's dead, a combo meter appears on screen and it's time to start running. Kill another guard before the meter ticks down and you'll extend your combo - but the window of opportunity's slightly smaller this time.

Keep killing, and it's possible to do entire levels in one extended 'run' - I've seen the developers take down 28 men before the first one was even cold. And where Gotham dishes bonus points for style, The Club awards them for merciless efficiency. Headshots, ricochets and kills with the last bullet of your clip all add up to big bonuses. Commando rolls and a neat volte-face impress The Club's shadowy organisers, and predictable AI makes trickshots available too - if you know where one target's going to run in the aftermath of an explosion, you can use a high-calibre weapon to shoot him through fragile scenery.

The idea is that you'll be able to complete every level relatively easily with a bit of guile; the obsessiveness will come in as you strive for the high scores that'll impress your mysterious paymasters. Narcotic levels of addiction are promised, and we plan to get our hands on it again very soon to see if it delivers. This is one club we're happy to queue up to get into.

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