Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Club First (and Last!) Impressions

I received The Club from the fine folks at Gamefly yesterday and did a quick playthrough of the first level and tried a couple rounds of multiplayer. The prognosis? Not good.

I decided to run through the first level (or Tournament as the game's levels are broken down as) on the Insane difficulty simply to see if beating the level on the harder difficulty unlocks the achievements for lower difficulties (it does). What's odd is that Insane is hardly what I'd call difficult at all. While The Club is a different breed of shooter from say, Call of Duty 4, and is meant to be played at a furious nonstop pace, I was still able to breeze through the first Tournament with no trouble whatsoever. Granted it was only the first level, but still, I can't even imagine how easy the game must be on the normal difficulty setting.

The first tournament consisted of playing through the same level in a variety of different modes and paths where you're either trying to get to an exit in a set amount of time or you're limited to a small area where you must survive for a few minutes with an ever increasing onslaught of enemies coming after you. Again, neither mode is particularly interesting because they are both pretty easy. The difficulty in the game seems to revolve around getting high scores, which is something that rarely interests me.

I was very interested in the multiplayer however, as most reviews seemed to write-off the single player anyway and praised the online play. After two 20 minute rounds, I have no idea why. Aiming is a mess and the weaponry is impotent. You can easily blast 4 or 5 shotgun rounds into someone at point blank range and they'll still just run off like nothing happened. Headshots seem completely random and again, require multiple shots to drop an opponent. You have a melee attack but, just like the weapons, it does practically no damage.

I wanted to try out some of the alternate game modes offered, such as Hunter Hunted and Fox Hunt, but it was impossible to find a match in those gametypes or to get anyone to join if I hosted one myself.

It's also worth mentioning that during the two matches I did play, I heard more swearing and racial epithets than I have in over a hundred hours of COD4 and Halo 3. During the game there is no onscreen indicator (either during gameplay or on the score screen) that shows who is speaking at any given moment, so people feel free to say whatever hatespeech comes to mind and repeat it ad nauseum with no fear of being reported. Since you don't know who's speaking you can't even mute them.

The bottom line is that The Club is a somewhat fun single player game with lousy multiplayer. It's worth a shot, especially if you like arcade style games and enjoy replaying levels over and over for high scores. I can't recommend it for the multiplayer because even if you end up enjoying it, there are so few people playing it's simply not worth it.

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