capsule review

Stubbs the Zombie

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Last month I offered a first look at the much anticipated Stubbs the Zombie, developed by Wideload Games and released for the Mac by Aspyr Media. The game is now out, and while it succeeds on many levels—assuming you’re a fan of gore and off-color jokes—it comes up short in others.

Stubbs the Zombie is a third-person action game that puts you in the role of Stubbs, a zombie who has been reanimated into 1950’s-era Punchbowl, Pennsylvania. This “city of the future” filled with hovercars, friendly robots, and a population that is totally intolerant of anything different—especially a zombie with a taste for brains.

Stubbs’ unending thirst for gray matter will send citizens of Punchbowl screaming, and bring out the authorities in force. The bodies he eats can come back as zombies—useful for diverting the attention of cops and other enemies. What’s more, Stubbs can tear off his own arm and use it to possess people, or pull gut grenades out of his own abdominal cavity. If that doesn’t do the trick, he can also emit explosive bursts of flatulence that will daze any bystanders.

As you might suspect, the game is rife with ribald humor. If fart jokes and situational zombie humor are up your alley, Stubbs is sure to please. If not, you’ll probably find the game over the top and occasionally in poor taste. In fact, the game is unapologetically blood-soaked and really, really nasty. It definitely earns its Mature rating.

My biggest complaint against Stubbs the Zombie is the game’s length. While there are multiple levels of difficulty, you’ll probably get no more than a few hours of enjoyment out of it—regardless of which setting you use.

The Xbox version of the game offered a cooperative two-player mode, which is sadly absent from the Mac (and PC) release. And the game’s sophisticated lighting effects make some fairly high demands on your system. At the minimum, you’ll need a 1.2GHz G4 and a 64MB video card.

Stubbs gets points for style, however: Much of the game is cast in a grainy haze that gives it the look of a 1950’s driver’s ed film The effect might not appeal to everyone, but I liked it. Stubbs also has one of the best game soundtracks I’ve seen in years, thanks to covers of 1950’s pop tunes performed by today’s indie darlings such as Cake and The Dandy Warhols.

The bottom line

Despite a few weaknesses, Stubbs the Zombie is sure to please gamers who like their action with hefty amounts of blood, and their humor a little on the twisted side. The game is definitely not intended for kids—or for adults with weak stomachs.

Stubbs the Zombie
PROS: Funny; awesome soundtrack; unique story.
CONS: The game is short; no multiplayer options.
PRICE: $40
OS COMPATIBILITY: Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later
COMPANY: Aspyr Media

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