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The Club - impressions

The Club is what some of us refer to as a "proper videogame." It takes the classic ingredients for addictive gameplay and unashamedly nailguns them into the torso of a third-person shooter. For starters, time is everything. Secondly, skill is essential - you're going to beat your friends by being better, not through blind luck. And thirdly, yes, you will be playing this like a racing game. Reach a certain point in the level with a below-target score and you'll be reaching for the restart option. Don't worry, we thought that sounded crappy too, but having seen the game in action, we can reveal it actually isn't.

The version of The Club we saw at Sega's London HQ was in a near-alpha state on Xbox 360. It's still got to be balanced, the frame-rate needs to be sorted out and the AI and ragdoll aspects still need tweaking. But despite this, it already works. This may be because the basic game has been running for a couple of years already, as an embryonic Xbox version deep inside Sega's offices. The heart of the game looks solid and fun - and now it's got the rest of the experience to go with it.

Before we go any further, we should say that the first thing we thought when we saw it was "it looks like Gears of War." The Roadie Cam is there, the viewpoint is similar and the movement of the game is very familiar too. But we were wrong - the game plays totally differently. You might need to use cover for a second while you reload (although you should have planned that better if you do), but you'll be walking through the level like the Terminator did in the police station. Take hits if you must - just keep killing.

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