Ask yourself a question.
What do you want from a shooter?
Do you want a compelling story with impressive cut scenes, levels that go on for an hour or two and a well-defined beginning, middle and end?
Or do you just want to start up your console, dive into a level of your choosing that lasts anywhere from a minute to, oh, about five minutes and then get some points for shooting people in the face?
If it's the former, well there are plenty of those to be getting on with. Bioshock's good, if you've not already played it. It's got a proper story and some lovely toys to play with.
The Club doesn't really have a story. There's some justification for the events going on that doesn't make a whole lot of sense and when you complete the final tournament (think cups in Mario Kart) there's a very brief cut scene featuring the character that you just used. One or more of them may involve motorbikes. That's about it.
But let's go back to that Mario Kart comparison that was just casually thrown into the text. In one-player mode, Mario Kart only really came to life once you'd played through all the cups, unlocked all the characters and tracks and were ready to get stuck into the time trials.
The Club is very similar. You need to spend two or three hours in tournament mode when you first boot it up to unlock all the levels and characters. Once you've done that you have a choice. You can either decide you've completed the game and feel like you've wasted your cash, or you can realise that you've just finished a tutorial and that the real fun is just about to start.
(Comparisons with Mario Kart break down when it comes to multiplayer, however. In Mario Kart, that's the point. In The Club, it's an afterthought. Pay it no heed.)
So, what have you got once you've run through Tournament mode and unlocked everything?
Well, you'll have learned the essential skills you need to play the game. You'll have got used to the controls, which initially feel quite clunky before becoming completely transparent. You'll have a basic knowledge of the levels, how to read them and how to see through the muted colour scheme. Most importantly, you'll know about the scoring system. You'll know about keeping your combos going, skull shots, death rolls and head shots.
You'll have the full roster of eight characters to choose from. There are six characters available at the start, with two more unlocked as you progress through the tournaments. They're both worthy additions and worth having available.
And you'll have over fifty-levels unlocked and ready to play. This is where you should rub you hands together with glee and, possibly, chuckle to yourself a little. The Single Event mode available from the main menu will be where you'll be living for the foreseeable future. Put your feet up, make yourself at home.
Pick an event, any event. A Time Attack, maybe, where you have to run laps round a course, get to the end within a time limit and beat a specific score. Or how about a Siege or Survivor level, where you're penned into a small area and have to fend off an invasion of bad guys. Maybe a simple Sprint or Run The Gauntlet level, where you have to get from A to B while racking up the points. It's up to you. Some people find themselves at home in the Survivor levels, others prefer the Sprints. Many like to mix it up.
Now play. Play until you beat the target score for the difficulty level you've chosen. Then realise you could have done even better if you'd not let your combo drop because you missed a couple of enemies. Play the level again. Then realise that throwing some death rolls into the mix will improve your score even further. Keep playing, keep seeing your name creeping up the online leaderboards.
Congratulations, you're addicted. You've understood The Club and let it hook you.
Now you can go through all the levels trying to beat your own high scores and those of your friends and those of the thousands of online strangers playing the game. You can also take a look at the Achievements for the game and see that some of them encourage you to play the game in different ways and add little "side quests" to the main game, as Achievements should. (Try to use the pistol to get the Efficiency Achievement on the "Veni, Vidi, Vici" level for a fun extra challenge. It shouldn't take too long to do once you've worked out where the bonus enemy is.)
As previously mentioned, for some people this game will be a disappointment. There will be those who never quite get comfortable with the controls. There will be people who, for some reason this reviewer will never understand, don't see the point of high score gaming. But there will be those who love this game and will see four out of five as an unduly harsh mark. They may well be right.