Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.21.05
Introduction: Wideload Games and Aspyr bring us a unique Zombie tale featuring a wisecracking brain sucking Zombie named Stubbs. This original tale ventures onto the Xbox platform and gives gamers something new. I had the chance to run through Stubbs and I have the lowdown on corpse of a good time.
The Game: Wideload Games is the new kid on the block, but it actually made up with some Bungie veterans and former Bungie founder Alex Seropian. Wideload decided to use what they know best, the Halo engine and bring out a side of their personality that did not show up in Halo, humor. The world of Punchbowl , PA and its Zombie madness works surprisingly well with the four year old engine, and it's interesting to see how long it can last in the right hands.
Stubbs the Zombie takes place in a throwback to the 1950s, except they have ultra modern technology. This would be closest to resembling THQs Destroy All Humans, just add flying cars and Zombies. Having a sense of humor is important to make it through Stubbs because it can be pretty bizarre and humorous at the same time. Although it is a one sided coin and if you don't get it, you might not like Stubbs at all. Stubbs the Zombie has a strong personality, even without having a personality. It's all pretty strange, but in a weird way it is oddly pleasing.
I'll go a back a bit, and give you some history on this suit wearing Zombie. Stubbs wasn't always a Zombie; he was once a man named Edward "Stubbs" Stubblefield who worked as a traveling salesman during the Great Depression. Just trying to make ends meet, Stubbs met his end in a different way when he was murdered and shamefully buried in a remote area in Pennsylvania . Mysteriously Stubbs is resurrected as a member of the night of the living dead and it seems Pennsylvania has changed, along with Stubbs. Not too happy with his current situation Stubbs seeks to destroy everything that moves in the new futuristic city of Punchbowl . Yes, it's all very B-Grade humor, but it works. Stubbs is the perfect candidate to pull of this remedy for cheese. The cheese starts as soon as the opening hits with a speech by Punchbowl utopian Andrew Monday. It's followed up with a tutorial from a whimsical robot who doesn't clue in you are a zombie. Then you enter eat some brains, and keep eating brains until the game is done.
Stubbs has a few tricks in his decrepit body; first, he can use this body as a weapon by passing omega gas, or throwing his spleen to ignite a bomb of sickness. He certainly doesn't have any manners. Stubbs can also eat brains, and he loves them! Brains are like Campbell 's soup for Zombies and anyone that he feasts on turns into a faithful Zombie solder of his! You are quickly shown this in the tutorial and in no time, you will have quite the army following you as the dead march over the living. Having an army of Zombies is one of the coolest features of the game and if you look closely some will be following you as just a clawing torso. It is freaking cool! Zombie Armies do rule!
Stubbs is viewed 3rd person perspective for a majority of the action, but you won't always be in the Zombie form. The man from the land of the dead can detach his left and posses someone's body. They way this works is you take control of the hand and run around as the hand like "Cousin It" from the Adams Family. When you find your victim, you latch onto his head and control his body until you release or bite the bullet. The hand can also stick to walls, which reminded me of the old Predator vs. Alien games. It is a little tricky to control, but a lot of fun sneaking past a room full of police as you treated to in the first "hand" sequence. This part of the game totally took me by surprise and it was a nice touch with gave me a similar feeling to possessing bodies in Destroy All Humans.
Now with all these cool features we just need a great platform to execute all Stubbs goodness. This is where the game takes a little plunge. The game is very basic and you just wonder room-to-room killing. The environments seem big which is deceiving because when you get down to it your restricted, teased by this big world that you could wreak havoc in. It is satisfactory enough eating brains, but it does get a little old and it gets hard to stay focused when it's so repetitive. Am I being turned into a Zombie! Damn You Stubbs!
Wideload is on to something and this game has all the right ideas that just need to be finer tuned. It is a great original idea, which is becoming an anomaly in this industry and we applaud their attempt at making gamers experience a new fresh take on Zombie chomping experience.
Graphics & Sound: Stubbs the Zombie is an average looking affair. Modeled off the Halo engine, it has seems to hold up, but just barely to the new standards that have been set. The game really looks bland after a few hours into it; everything seems the same even though they try to mix it up. The environments need more life and the need to convey the concept of weight better. Stubbs and other objects in the world seems to float to easily, like gravity on the moon and really don't convey seem heavy like they should. On the good side the effects like blood and the Evil Dead zombie-zoom are excellent, and Wideload certainly has the Zombie creep down, but in the end it just seems a little to bland.
The audio side of the deal is superb, and the musical soundtrack in Stubbs one of the games highlights. With a number of punk & alternative bands covering 1950's songs, it seems they found the perfect mix for a futuristic Zombie game. You might even recognize a few of the artists like Cake, Dandy Warhols, Flaming Lips and Phantom Planet. The voice overs are average, but the lack of expression only helps the cheese factor. This is a B-Movie inspired game, so we need some B quality voice work. Other effects like screams and moans are dead on. Ouch, bad pun. In addition, Stubbs comes off pulling out of the extra polish it was lacking from the graphic side of the coin.
Mojo: It is a human vs. Zombie war! Now that is cool. The mojo is being ripped out of everyone's head in Punchbowl and with every head another notch in the sweet zombieness of Stubbs. It's great to play the Zombie for once rather then killing them, and who knew a brain eating, mindless Zombie could be such fun. Stubbs is pretty cool for what it is. If defiantly something, but you have to be into the B-Movie genre to really get.
Lowdown:Stubbs is a nice little niche game from new developer Wideload. Eating brains always amounts for a good time and Stubbs really lays down the groundwork that could play into nice sequel. Stubbs the Zombie would qualify for a definite rent, the reason I cannot recommend this for everyone is because you really need to enjoy the B-Movie substance and Stubbs is short. You can comple Stubbs in a weekends time, but its fun while it lasts. If you have a free moment and enjoy BRAINS! Creep around for a while as Stubbs.
Game: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8. Final: 7 / 10