Stubbs the Zombie


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 5


The first game to use the Halo engine (outside of Halo itself of course), Stubbs the Zombie is what happens when a group of game designers spend far too many late nights discussing ideas. It has the sickest, most twisted, and utterly absurd sense of humor you'll find a video game this year, but sadly not the gameplay to back it up. Controlling a zombie, whether he's a chain smoker or not, isn't fun.

stubbs1xbox.jpg (67847 bytes)Be forewarned that after a cinematic early on in your Stubbs experience, you'll never look at pumping gas the same way again. That's just one of the hilarious sight gags in this 1950's American culture parody. Stubbs pops from the ground, and from then on, it's one huge melee against a group of clueless pedestrians and law enforcement (and scientists, and local militia, and the army…).

The game slowly upgrades Stubbs, presenting new means of destruction. Besides a basic combo and necessary brain eating, players can disassemble body parts to use as weapons. His nearly infinite amount of spleens makes great grenades, and never underestimate the bowling power of a decomposing, explosive head. Vehicles also make an appearance in various forms, though they add little to the experience. The latter provide the only true feel of the Halo engine.

However, aside from a few extra moves, after 10-minutes, you've seen what you'll be doing the whole time. Core gameplay involves nothing but running around in levels that feel randomly designed, slashing away at people too stupid to run away quick enough. Attacks involve mashing a single button, and once stunned, a quick flick of the Y button to eat their brains (which is how powerful moves are charged).

As a zombie, Stubbs brings the usual array of zombie necessities. Slow third person walking, a miserable jump, and repeating "brains" on a constant basis (which admittedly does make for the one of the game's best moments, a flawlessly crafted Patton parody). Player's can't make Stubbs run. He needs to walk, and then he bursts into a sprint. It takes far too long to make it from area to another, and if you impede his progress along the way, you'll start over and need to build momentum again.

While levels provide a nice array of locales, they feel disjointed. There are numerous long corridors that just seem to exist to hide loading screens. Certain sections offer multiple solutions, but no indication that you're doing something the wrong way. If you're low on health, an automatic save point could put you in a situation where you'll need to restart the entire level too, which is totally unacceptable.

Even with the complaints, there's no denying the entertainment value here. As foes are brought down, they also turn into the undead, and in a crowded section, these dim-witted creatures will take any action necessary to have a feast. The best you can do with a crowd of them is to make them follow you. There's a tactical game in here somewhere, though it's hard to believe a company would green light a zombie-styled Rainbow Six. There's fun in watching the mayhem you've brought against a town that considers itself perfect, and it may even keep you playing.

The cinematics are funny enough to create a feature film around too. There's hardly a second that passes by where a deeply imbedded pop-culture reference shows up or the hideously acted dialogue (on purpose) creates a laugh. This is the equivalent of video game comedy gold.

For the masses though, Stubbs the Zombie is not the game they want. Sure, the licensed 50's soundtrack (though none are from the original artists) will grab you during the menus, and the cinematics will provide a release. Anything besides that is an average, uneventful experience better left on the shelf.


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Last updated: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:58 AM