If you’re the type of person who goes to horror movies and roots for the zombies, then Aspyr Media’s upcoming Stubbs the Zombie was made for you. The game puts you in charge of the moaning, flesh eating, and general mayhem that ensues when you join the legions of the undead.
Stubbs the Zombie takes place in the late 1950’s in a utopian city called Punchbowl (slogan: “Drink your fill of the future”). Dreamed up by a wealthy industrialist, the city is filled with flying cars and robots, is impeccably clean, and is populated by well-groomed, peaceful inhabitants. It’s Ozzie & Harriet meets The Jetsons.
Enter Stubbs. This former traveling salesman turned zombie is looking for love and a quick bite to eat. And there’s nothing he likes better than a little gray matter, fresh from the container.
At its core, Stubbs is a fairly traditional third person brawler. You, as Stubbs, shamble around Punchbowl eating anyone within reach, and hitting and punching those who won’t submit to your will. You’ll also win converts. Eating your enemy’s’ brains reanimates them as part of your loping zombie gang. You don’t have any direct control over your zombie cohorts, though you can try to get their attention (useful for herding them into areas flush with new victims). They’ll follow you until they find something else—or more to the point, someone else —good to eat.
Stubbs has special defenses that can help get him out of a pickle. For example, you can pass highly noxious wind, which sends nearby civilians into temporary paralytic fits. You can also reach into your body cavity and pull out a Gut Grenade, which you can toss into a crowd of opponents. In fact, your body offers some of your best weapons. You can use your head as an explosive bowling ball, or temporarily tear off your own forearm, which you can then remotely control as it scuttles up walls and through windows to possess humans. These capabilities are introduced at different points in the game, and all are crucial to your success.
The game looks and sounds fantastic. Interstitial sequences have a grainy quality that is reminiscent of ancient 8mm movies. The mood is also set by a phenomenal soundtrack made up of 1950’s pop songs covered by modern indie bands: Death Cab for Cutie covers “Earth Angel,” for example, and The Dandy Warhols takes on “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” (You can also purchase the soundtrack separately through the iTunes Music Store.)
Due to the complex pixel shading and robust artificial intelligence, the game’s system requirements are relatively steep. You’ll need a 1.2GHz or faster processor and a Radeon 9600 or GeForce FX5200 3-D graphics card with at least 64MB VRAM.
Stubbs the Zombie is soaked in blood and gore. Fart jokes, crude language, and intense violence definitely help this game earn its Mature rating. But there’s also a good dose of humor. Stubbs is at times ribald, absurd, and sarcastically funny.
Obviously this isn’t a game for kids—or for adults with weak stomachs. But if you like your action with hefty amounts of blood, and your humor a little on the twisted side, Stubbs the Zombie is sure to please.
I only wish the game were longer. You can easily finish the single-player game within a few hours. The game does offer multiple levels of difficulty to help keep things interesting. But this doesn’t change the story line; the action is just faster, with more bad guys to eat. The Xbox version offers a “co-op” mode that lets two players revisit the single-player game, but sadly, this feature was removed from the Mac release.
Stubbs the Zombie – Beta Tested PROS: Funny; awesome soundtrack; unique story. CONS: The game is short; no multiplayer options PRICE AS RATED: $40 OS COMPATIBILITY: Mac OS X 10.3.9, OS X 10.4 COMPANY: Aspyr Media