Aspyr, Wideload offer Rebel Without a Pulse details

In late August Aspyr Media Inc. and Wideload Games first announced plans to collaborate on a new game release. On Thursday Aspyr and Wideload Games offered the first details about the game, including platform information and a release schedule. Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without A Pulse" is the game, and it'll be published worldwide for Mac, PC and Xbox consoles in the summer of 2005.

"Rebel Without A Pulse" marks Aspyr's first official foray into original A-list title publishing -- the company is best known for its conversion of popular console and PC games to the Macintosh. It's also the debut game from Wideload, a new game developer created by Bungie Studio founder Alexander Seropian and other Bungie veterans.

Based on an updated version of the same engine technology used in Bungie's first person shooter "Halo," "Rebel Without a Pulse" puts players in control of a wisecracking zombie named Stubbs, "who takes on an ultra-modern city of the future using nothing but his own carcass and the weapons of his possessed enemies." The game is rife with tongue-in-cheek humor, a strong storyline and innovative combat techniques.

"Stubbs' brain-eating adventure brings him through bustling shopping districts and verdant farmlands to battle mad scientists, rural militiamen and the world's deadliest barbershop quartet," explained the companies in a recent statement. "His enemies have shotguns, tanks, and all manner of futuristic weaponry. All Stubbs has is his own rotting corpse, a distinct lack of pain or conscience, and the ability to turn foes into zombie allies.

"What begins as one zombie's search for revenge quickly escalates into an all-out war between the living and the dead - but this time it's the zombie fighting for truth, justice and the redemption of true love. Yes, it's a love story too."

Aspyr Media President Michael Rogers outlined some of what makes the new game unique when he recently spoke with MacCentral.

"Stubbs has a hand that he can pull off," said Rogers. "so it can go places you couldn't ordinarily go. You can also use it to possess people, to get them to do what you want them to do."

In fact, Stubbs can raise a veritable squad of zombies to do his bidding, according to Rogers. The game sports a new artificial intelligence (AI) system, to help make sure that Stubbs' shambling zombie horde is, as the press release puts it, "the most keenly intelligent mindless zombies in the history of video games."

Inspired by Stubbs' putrification and the theme of the walking dead, the game's designers have extended the gameplay in unusual ways, said Rogers. Stubbs' body actually becomes a weapon in the game: you can yank out your own rotting organs to use as "gut grenades" against your enemies, your infected sputum can be used as a weapon and your head can act as a bowling ball. Stubbs also emits "flatulence beyond the ken of mortal men."

Rogers told MacCentral that Aspyr is planning to ship all three versions of the game simultaneously. Wideload is developing "Rebel Without A Pulse" on the Xbox platform, and Aspyr Studios, Aspyr's internal development team, is handling the Mac and Windows conversion itself, under the aegis of Aspyr director of PC and Mac development Glenda Adams.

Rogers said that gamers familiar with the quality of graphics in "Halo" should only see that as as starting point for how "Rebel Without A Pulse" will look. "The Wideload team has added a new bumpmapping system and new pixel shaders as well. It's hard to see 'Halo' in there," said Rogers. "They've made the engine even prettier than it was before."

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