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Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse" Review
developer: Wideload Games
PIV 2000, 512MB RAM, 4GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 15, 05 (released)
|» All About Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse" on ActionTrip|
Is it really that difficult to make a unique game these days? Just take the corniest possible idea for an action game and then turn it completely upside down. Don't offer the typical swaggering male protagonist who sets out to save the world. Instead, give the player a walking, rotting corpse to do the job, or to put it plainly, a zombie. Aspyr and Wideload Games seized the opportunity to realize such a unique idea, and so Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse" was born.
Looking for a fresh victim.
Ah, that was a lovely meal. Thanks.
Stubbs the Zombie is one of those games that doesn't bother to concern itself with any profound story-telling. It features little to no dialogue and rather limited characterization. Frankly, there's not much to say when you want to depict the dismal existence of a zombie. Players are thrust into the tattered threads of a ravenous green-skinned zombie named Stubbs, who got bored of lying around in his coffin all day, counting dead worms and thinking of new and interesting ways to entertain himself. So, he heads out on a traditional zombie killing spree through the beautiful city of Punchbowl. He also has his heart set on a dame. (Hey, zombies have feelings too!) Each time he sees her on a TV screen or billboard, he grows wild with desire. He CAN contain it mind you, so don't get any perverted ideas about a horny zombie humping mail boxes just because his piece of tail is out of reach. Anyhow, his love for the big-breasted lass is the sole thing that keeps him going through all his endeavors as a full-fledged member of the undead. During the game you won't find any intriguing plot twists... or anything resembling an actual plot for that matter. Actually, it's not until the very end of the game that you discover a rather amusing back story related to Stubbs and his family, but that's all there is to it. For those who enjoy a good spoof, Stubbs the Zombie has its fair share of silly humor and pranks that can be witnessed around every corner.
The game begins as Stubbs bursts out of the ground right onto an unsuspecting courting couple. Having devoured both (or at least one) of their brains, Stubbs comes across a friendly service-robot, determined to give him a guided tour through Punchbowl. Punchbowl is a fictional 50's-style city with hover-vehicles and laser technology - it's quite the freaky combo.
There are a few basic rules you need to follow in order to accommodate to the life of a zombie. The aforementioned robot offers suggestions, often inadvertently, on several moves Stubbs can use on victims. Listening to the robot's advice comes as a brief and straightforward tutorial. A small number of tips is all it takes to master the art of zombie fighting. Once you've learnt the basics, the carnage may begin.
My initial disappointment was with the game's slightly outdated visuals. Character models are decent enough, and some people might enjoy the 'grainy film' special effects perpetuated throughout most of the game. However, I wasn't all that pleased with the backdrop in most areas. Each level has generally poor texture patterns that were clearly made to suit the older hardware of the Xbox. This, of course, doesn't come off too well in the PC version. Still, there's plenty of blood and gore and solid character animation, so you'll soon forget the rather flimsy console-esque visuals.
At the beginning I felt a bit disappointed given that most of my activities in the game involved scratching, punching and gnawing at civilians and policemen. Fortunately, things got better after I completed the first stage and once I was able to utilize some of Stubbs's cool zombie skills. Sucking the life out of an innocent passer-by charges several special powers Stubbs may use at the opportune moment to boost his attacks and eventually damage multiple enemies. Lobbing a few belly grenades and loosing unholy flatulence are usually your best bet for confronting several enemies at once. When you reach a certain part of the game, you will also unlock the ability to roll the main character's zombie-like head across the floor and then detonate it when it reaches its target. It's kind of like bowling, but with a special destructive flavor added to make things a bit more interesting. Oh and need I mention that the pins were substituted with live targets. Joy. It's basically how Stubbs likes to spend his spare time. After an exhausting day of eating brains and ripping off limbs, there's nothing better than going out on the town for a good game of head-bowling.
Possibly one of the best aspects of the game is Stubbs's ability to influence weak-minded opponents via his detachable arm. This segment of the game reminded me a lot of Alien vs. Predator: Primal Hunt, where you see everything from the perspective of a freshly hatched alien. Similarly to the blood-thirsty baby alien, the detached zombie arm crawls across walls, pillars, tables and almost any surface that gets in its way. In many situations the arm introduces a wide range of possible strategies to battle your way through without even injuring Stubbs himself. You pull out the arm, move in on a specific target, and when the victim is in range, simply press the 'E' key and the unlucky individual is yours to command. The possibilities are practically limitless. You can manipulate soldiers, civilians, policemen and farmers, using a variety of ranged and melee attacks in the process. You can also order people to enter vehicles and do all the dirty work for you. Whether you decide on controlling someone else or using Stubbs, there's a variety of challenging ways to go through levels that are usually crammed with fresh meat (i.e. your prey).
Being a zombie, easy to get into, sweet moves and powers to execute;
It's over too damn quickly, poor backdrop textures, absence of Xbox co-op, lack of replayability, somewhat feeble audio.