Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
The content in Stubbs the Zombie is the stuff of B-Movie horror, combined with the cutting-edge quality of bestselling games like Halo. The principal character is a zombie and the game uses the ‘Halo engine’, created by Halo’s executive producer, so it didn’t take much insight to reach this conclusion. While the mixture of tech and trash sounds like an unhealthy concoction, the formula really does work. You take control of Stubbs, an ex-salesman turned zombie, who was violently killed in 1933. Waking up in 1959, Stubbs finds himself as one of the undead, with a gaping shotgun wound in his stomach.
From the off, you realise that Stubbs the Zombie has had great care and attention paid to it during its development. Everything from the cut scenes to the menus are styled perfectly, and provide a kitsch feel to proceedings. While the city Stubbs inhabits is certainly unusual (a billionaire paid for some super high-tech gadgetry, apparently), the look and feel is unmistakably Fifties right down to the character costumes and provides an altogether more interesting gaming experience. The action also has a slight fuzz to it, which provides a far more retro feel than the polished action games out there.
The zombie genre is truly unexplored territory in the Mac game world, and after a few minutes of play you will realise just how much of a shame that is. Stubbs the Zombie is just downright all round good fun. Whereas many games focus on killing zombies by the dozen, the twist here is that you yourself are one, and you want to create more. Once you have devoured the brains of a foe, they become part of your zombie army and respond to your whistles, where you push them and attack further enemies. Being a zombie has other perks too – firstly you have access to some devastating weapons that include gut grenades (parts of your intestines you can throw and detonate), toxic sputum, a severed hand and unholy flatulence (the effect of which you can probably imagine). With these various defences come a number of keyboard commands which in the default layout should only be used by those with extremely flexible hands, or more digits than they should have. Controlling movement with the W, A, S & D keys whilst using the mouse and the various weapons at your disposal is no mean feat. It’s definitely necessary to make a few alterations to suit your style. Other than the weapons you possess, you also have the opportunity to pilot vehicles, including a Sod-O-Matic sod-laying machine which enables Stubbs to move faster and launch giant lumps of earth at opponents. The game provides entertainment throughout, with new skills learnt along the way. Using Stubbs’ severed hand to control enemies is a particular highlight, especially when t hey are armed and the weapon can be turned on one of their own.
With graphics this good, there’s bound to be a hefty system requirement, but on an iMac G5, Stubbs the Zombie runs perfectly well. Mac mini users will miss out due to the graphic card requirements, and those with minimal RAM should also think about upgrading in order to enjoy the game fully.
Overall, this is an immensely enjoyable game, and one that will keep you entertained right to the end as you battle through even more wacky situations and learn new tricks. While the plot and pacing works beautifully, we couldn’t help but think that the game was over rather too quickly and left us with a slightly empty feeling by the end. That said, the journey to the climax is well worth the admission fee alone.