Zombies. Everyone loves them. We have movies about them, games, books, and even songs. As much as we love these rotting bags of flesh, somehow we always portray them as the bad guys. They are always destroying everything, killing everyone, and they never get the girl?Well, maybe Michael Jackson does in Thriller, I don?t remember, but everyone knows he isn?t a ?normal? case. Anyways, the point is, despite our apparent affection for the walking dead, we always give them the shaft. They are always portrayed as the enemy. Well, apparently Aspyr and Wideload Games noticed this trend as well, and decided to give our brain-eating buddies a chance to be the hero for once. That?s right, their new game Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse for the Xbox lets you play AS the zombie. Finally, the zombie is the hero!
Basically, the story goes like this: Stubbs is a salesman in the 1930s. He?s down on his luck, due to the Great Depression, and unfortunately things only get worse for the poor guy. Murdered by an unknown assailant and buried in a field, Stubbs is never heard from again?at least not until a few decades later. It?s the 1950s, and in the time since his murder, a city has been built over his unmarked grave. A futuristic city, with floating cars and robots. It?s the perfect city, apparently, and everyone is completely happy. Everyone that is, except for Stubbs. The commotion from the city has disturbed his eternal rest, and he wakes up as an unhappy zombie.
The story is fairly simple, at least when you start out. You?re a zombie named Stubbs, you are hungry after a few decades of rotting in the ground, and pissed that you?ve been woken up. So, you have to find some brains to eat, and in doing so create a zombie pal to hit the streets with. Simple as that. There are plenty of people hanging around the area where you wake up, and it won?t take you long to kill them and create a small troop of zombies to follow you around. Yes, that?s right, you are responsible for creating an outbreak of zombies. Sweet! ?And so, the story continues like this until Stubbs sees the Mayor?s peculiarly young mother (who is a hottie) on a storefront television, and falls in love. This is where the real story begins, as Stubbs and his swarm of zombies head off in search of this lovely lady that he has fallen for.
Stubbs the Zombie uses the Halo 2 engine, so the gameplay, or course, is pretty decent. As a zombie, Stubbs moves sort of slow and limpy, but this fits his character and doesn?t make anything more difficult as a result. Stubbs isn?t your average zombie, either. He is smarter than the rest of the flesh eaters, and can even control them. One of the coolest features is Stubbs? ability to shove other zombies in the direction he wants them to go. If you see some people that you want to add to your zombie army, but you?re busy eating a policeman, shove a bunch of your current flock in their direction and your zombuddies will slaughter them for you. You can also use this technique to create your own personal zombie shield when you find yourself under heavy fire from the police. Better them than you. Since the game does use the Halo 2 engine, you can also use vehicles. Stubbs can?t walk very well, but he sure can drive!
Stubbs also has a number of special abilities that allow you to kill the non-zombies in a number of interesting ways. You have the Gut Grenade, which is a chunk of Stubbs? intestines that is filled with years old gas. He hurls it at foes, and it explodes just like a grenade. This is another aspect that you may recognize from Halo 2, as the Gut Grenades will actually stick to people if they make contact. Best of all, Stubbs can grow his intestines back as long as he gets enough brains to eat. Next we have Unholy Flatulence, in which Stubbs bends over and releases a nasty green fart that will take down the hardiest of humans. Stubbs can even pull off his own head, and roll it at enemies like a bowling ball. These are all handy moves, but the best of them is The Hand. Stubbs can take off his hand, and send it crawling away on its own. In fact, the hand can actually possess humans if it can manage to grab on to their heads. Possession is an awesome tool, as you can take control of an armed policeman and start gunning down the opposition. There are many uses for this ability, some of which add a bit of puzzle solving to the game. The handiest of these abilities are the Gut Grenades and The Hand. Bowling your own head is fun, but sometimes it isn?t as useful as the other abilities. Over all, though, the developers have done a great job creating gameplay that is not only solid, but funny to boot.
Speaking of funny, this game is bursting at the seams with humor. From the one-liners the citizens make, to Stubbs facial expressions and the cigarette hanging from his mouth, the game has an awesome sense of humor. Some people may find the humor offensive, but to others a robot gas attendant whose gas nozzle is positioned right between his legs is hilarious! Especially when the car starts rocking back and forth as he humps, I mean pumps, the gas. If that isn?t your kind of humor, maybe you?d be more interested in the dance-off between Stubbs and the Police Chief. After a long, drawn out battle in the police station, you don?t expect the fight to end with a dance-off. It catches you off guard, and makes you laugh. The game is filled with little things like this, and for that, I have to give the developers a big thumbs up.
The graphics are pulled off very well. Using the Halo 2 engine helped, but the developers did a nice job of making the engine their own. For the most part, the city and the various other areas you visit are large and have a lot of details. There are a few areas that are slightly plain looking, but these are few and far between. The character models are all well done, from Stubbs and his zombie pals all the way to the Mayor and his supermodel mommy. You will notice some repetition in the inhabitants of the city, however, which is to be expected but at the same time is annoying. Not since my days in high school have I seen so many lettermen?s jackets! At least when you attack them you can sometimes rip off their arms and beat them with the appendage. It helps take care of the above mentioned annoyance.
The sound is amazing. The voice work is top notch, and has a definite 50s feel to it, and the sound effects are disgusting?but in a good way. They need to sound disgusting to properly portray the eating of brains and the ripping of arms out of sockets. The thing that really makes the sound in this game shine, though, is the music. It?s amazing. The developers put together a soundtrack that is both modern and 50s era at the same time. They have current indie rock groups like Death Cab for Cutie, The Walkmen, Ben Kweller, and The Flaming Lips (to name just a couple) covering classic 1950s songs like Earth Angel, Lollipop, My Boyfriends Back, and more. The combination brings forth some of the coolest songs you?ll hear, and creates a game soundtrack that actually sells quite well. On top of all of that, the music really sets the mood for the game.
The game has a linear storyline, but the levels are so large and have so many different routes you can take, that playing through the game for a second time is just as enjoyable as the first. Add in a co-op mode, and you have some serious replay value. The two player mode, via split screen, is a lot of fun and adds some extra challenges to the game that weren?t there in the single player mode.
Stubbs the Zombie is an extremely unique game, and has a whole different take on the zombie genre. It has its own brand of off color humor, and the gameplay is top notch. Again, I can?t say enough about the music. It?s so cool! Anyways, Stubbs the Zombie is a winner, so if you like zombies, humor, the 1950s, good music, killing innocent people, or video games in general, you should definitely check this baby out. Don?t be a square, man! Come eat some brains!