We reviewed The Club upon its initial release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. As is usually the case with direct-to-console games, the PC release is nothing but a direct port across, and unfortunately the porting job is often done so badly that you feel they should have included a free USB controller with the game. (I'm looking at you, Lost Planet.)
Needless to say, my fears appeared confirmed when initially installing The Club on Windows Vista. I really hate having to hunt through my hard drive looking for whatever random folder the game is installed in because it hasn't created a desktop shortcut. Once the game loaded, things didn't seem a lot better, with numerous references to "controller settings" in the options. I did however get a fairly comprehensive range of graphical settings to play around with, so rather smugly I set all to maximum to test out the response from the 8800GT.
PC gamers will know that no matter the title, it always looks better drawn with PC hardware, and The Club is no exception. Console titles seem to eschew anti-aliasing, perhaps simply because people tend to sit further back from their TV's and just don't notice as much, but on a LCD monitor the difference is extremely apparent. Everything seems to just look softer and more lifelike, and considering the ease at which our mid-spec PC was chewing through the frames, it doesn't seem that you need to spend a lot of money to enjoy it either.
Third-person shooters. Let's be honest here - they're not designed with PC users in mind. I'm not quite sure why - perhaps it's more beneficial on a console to have an avatar on-screen to track the position of the cross-hair. Perhaps it makes for a better spectator experience for everyone else in the lounge. Whatever the reason, when you shift them over to a PC, you end up with an over-the-shoulder cross-hair and a large avatar taking up valuable screen real estate, and making close-quarter kills a royal pain in the proverbial. The simple act of providing an option to remove the avatar would alone boost your killing rate; sadly this doesn't exist, meaning every time you charge around a left-hand bend you'll have to check behind to ensure you haven't missed an enemy entirely.
There are some good aspects to seeing The Club on a PC platform. I'd like to tell you all about the best one - the fantastic 32 player deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag modes that apply the single-player concepts of concurrent kills, environmental kills and special move bonuses on challenging LAN and Internet-only maps. I'd like to tell you about those features, and more, but they don't exist. Sorry.
There's been a lot of discussion lately about the PC gaming industry, with words such as "piracy", and phrases such as "decline in sales" bandied about. Full credit to Sega for even porting this across - they could have told PC gamers to get stuffed, or "go and buy a console", but they took the effort and it is appreciated, albeit in a subtle way. See, it's the titles like this that remain spiritually bound to consoles that are causing concern for PC gamers. I really, truly hope that the industry is smart enough to remove console ports from their lists of "poor performing PC games '08", because the complete lack of original content, or indeed even LAN-based multiplayer, will always relegate titles such as The Club to the bargain bin faster than you can say "Kane & Lynch".
I'll now leave you with our original review of the Xbox 360 version, because The Club really is a fantastic game, and although it scored well in our initial review on the 360, it's dropped a full point with this PC port simply because Sega could have put just a little bit more effort towards the PC version. Sadly, it was not to be.
Bizarre Creations are best known for their work on the much acclaimed Project Gotham Racing series. Although Bizarre’s newest creation is certainly racing, its not racing in the traditional sense. The Club is a very different kind of shooter, and Bizarre has really gone out on a limb to create something that is different yet still works as a shooter. As we were tantalised with a demo we really were eager to get started with the final version of this game to see if it would live up to expectations.