Previews

The Club

Preview: Could do for shooters what PGR did for driving

The Club is nothing like your ordinary shooter. At all. Coming from Bizarre Creations of Project Gotham Racing fame, The Club's hybrid mish-mash of different genres aims to bring "the diversity of a fighting game and the intensity of a shooter" says the studio.

Despite there not being an Enzo Ferrari or cone challenge in sight, The Club bares many similarities to PGR, and that's exactly what elevates it to the unique shooter it's shaping up to be.

The story revolves around The Club, described as "the most secretive and exclusive organisation in the world", that organises brutal gatherings where lots of people get shot. Why? Simply because they love it. But the story is of little importance because it's the unique game system that has us excited about The Club.

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Just as PGR took the racing game formula and added its own spice with the clever Kudos system, The Club jazzes up the third-person shooter with a brilliant combo-based points system. Instead of the main aim being simply to stay alive - as it is in typical shooters - The Club shifts the emphasis towards scoring points, which is the only way to progress through the levels.

It's not about survival though. Each of the eight playable characters are designed to make you feel like a total bad-ass. They can die, but they'll take a mighty pasting before they go down. There's no stealth, you just smash through doors and yank the trigger to unleash swarms of bullets at your enemies. But, as similar as it may sound, The Club is far from a third-person clone of EA's Black. It's much cleverer than that.

Every time you kill an enemy you get points. When you kill your first enemy you start a combo chain. From that point you have a few seconds - indicated by a red combo gauge - to continue the combo by quickly making your next kill. Make that kill before the combo bar depletes and it'll link the combo, increasing your score and upping your multiplier.

Can you see how this pans out? The more enemies you kill in a chain, the higher your multiplier. Raising your multipliers with dozens of chained kills is how you get those ridiculous high scores that will top the inevitable leaderboards on Xbox Live.

If you don't pull off a trick in time to link the combo you instantly loose your entire multiplier in PGR. But in The Club, the multiplier counts down gradually. So if you have a 'x7' multiplier and fail to make a kill in time, it goes down to 'x6' and the red combo gauge begins its three-or-four second count down again.

This means that, even if you miss making a kill in time, there's no time to stand around and cry about it - you keep on fighting and rushing to rescue as much of your multiplier as possible. It keeps the action on a high at all times.

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The point-chasing system completely changes the mechanic of the genre because all those hide, duck and shoot techniques go right out the window. This is all about sprinting through enemy-packed stages, skilfully selecting your targets and blasting frantically (but equally as skilfully) to keep your multiplier up and send the score counter souring.

It may sound random or shallow but it really isn't. It's essentially an action-based puzzle game. You'll be replaying levels over and over to work out the best route through, carefully and strategically planning which enemies to shoot and in which order, with the ultimate aim of maintaining one long combo from the start to finish of each level.

Adding deeper point-scoring factors, like location-specific scoring, extends the experience further. Headshots, obviously, are worth more than randomly shot leg or chest kills. You also get extra points for shooting through objects of cover (like thin wooden crates) or explosive barrels. Extra points also go to players who use weaker guns (which take more skill to use), kill from long distances or make a kill with the last bullet in a clip.

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