The Club: No Hit, But Constantly Name-Checked

Bizarre Creations third-person 2008 shooter from Sega was no blockbuster, so why does it keep coming up in conversation?

I have not been able to escape The Club ā€” a game I thought no one played.

For those who are among that crowd of non-players, all you need to know is that Bizarre Creations created this game for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Sega released it two Februarys ago. It was a third-person shooter designed to be played for high scores ā€” with consecutive kills adding to score multipliers like consecutive tricks racked points in a Tony Hawk. Trick shots and the shooting of various hidden signs and icons further boosted scores. The idea was for players to re-play enough so they could make the perfect run through the game's levels, to play the third-person shooter not for macho gunning glory but for arcade scoring thrills.

For a year I heard almost no one discuss the game, but then...

Rapper Ice-T goes on Jimmy Fallon's show last month, gives out his Gamertag, I look it up and discovered that he's been playing... The Club.

I go to a demo for the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Game, which, on the higher-end consoles allows players to take missions set in a globe-spanning theater of free-range levels. The game is full of scoring opportunities. The producer showing me the game points to icons hidden throughout the level and says they can be shot at for points and score modifiers. It's like that other game, he says... The Club.

Some time close to these events I play through 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, a game that is a third-person score-based shooter, exactly like... The Club. (Whole lot of good that did it.)

Earlier this week, we cover the Edge cover story about Bizarre's next project, Blur, which we notice is a racing game constantly being compared to a shooter. A commenter notes that that is the inverse of the hype for Bizarre's last original game, which was sometimes described as a shooter influenced by a racing game. That game was... The Club.

When the chapter for this console generation is written in the history books, it will surely include the obligatory sidebar that notes that heavyweight Gears of War owes much of its cover-mechanics innovation to the unsung Kill.Switch.

If recent rampant references to another game are any indication, there may be a second sidebar for another unsung innovator... The Club.