Everyone's talking about Fight Club...
Depending on the sort of player you are, The Club is either the best game ever made, or a shallow blaster that harks back to a time when all that mattered was your high score.
Set in a series of shadowy arenas across the globe, The Club casts players as fighters in an illegal bloodsports championship, where criminals, fruit-loops and other unsavoury characters battle to the death for the viewing pleasure of the twisted millionaires who stage the events and gamble huge fortunes on the outcome.
Developed by Bizarre Creations, the coders behind Project Gotham Racing, its not surprising to see an outrageous scoring system shaping the action; unlike the tedious stealth-action games that dominated the charts for the past couple of years, The Club finds players sprinting through the tightly-packed areas as quickly as possible, attempting to kill enemies in quick succession so that their score multiplier keeps ticking over, and using stylish moves such as rolling into a room or killing an enemy with the last bullet in their clip to earn maximum points. Uniquely, this structure which makes for tense, heart-pounding matches where every move you make is vital to your score also encourages gamers to replay stages over and over again to find the perfect route, adding life to the brief and pacy challenges.
But while theres no doubting the excitement that comes from chasing a top score, the pursuit of points rather than any sort of cerebral or emotional involvement feels old-fashioned and wont engage anyone seduced by deeper contemporary blasters such as BioShock or Call Of Duty 4. And, in a gaming culture where players are constantly searching for new thrills, its unlikely that many gamers will be content to retread old ground again and again, just so they can nail that perfect headshot or jump to the top of the online leaderboards.