Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Xbox Review

May 30, 2010 by Chris Wigham  
Filed under Retro Content, Retro Reviews, Xbox

We’ve removed their heads from their shoulders with a shotgun blast, blew them up with a conveniently placed explosive barrel, stamped on them as they helplessly shuffled towards us with only their higher torso intact, and inflicted much more pain in order to rid the virtual world of this flesh eating pest. Stubbs the Zombie gives us a refreshing perspective on the living dead, as killing a zombie here would be like killing your own, if that isn‘t a hint, then we’ll say it out loud, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!!

The game is set in a futuristic 1959, which sees a murdered Edward “Stubbs” Stubblefield emerge from his grave as a decaying zombie. Stubbs was a travelling salesman in life, and died during the great depression of 1933, but someone needs to tell him that his grave was supposed to be his final resting place. It’s soon quite evident that Stubbs isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously, instead stripping the usual grim outlook and replacing it with plenty of silly humour. Stubbs himself is a green-skinned, big eyeballed, cigar smoking zombie, and wears a hat and suit, which have probably seen better days prior to him being buried under the ground. If green skin and big eyeballs sound normal to you, try a huge gaping hole in the stomach instead, which is of course the window to his intestines. Nice.

Controlling Stubbs isn’t exactly as you’d expect, as he’s not as unhurried as zombie tradition suggests, moving with more of a purpose instead, and even managing to sprint if a straight gait is maintained for long enough. His motivation? Brains for breakfast, lunch and tea and whenever else he’s feeling hungry of course! This guzzling of brains results in fountains of the red stuff, and other than being a rather grisly sight, it’s also purposeful in the way of replenishing some of Stubb’s more helpful attacks.

Stubbs may grunt and groan like the zombie of norm, but he’s a little cleverer than the average flesh eater (he can drive for gods sake!). This zombie can remove his head and roll it like a bowling ball, use his gut as a very nice makeshift grenade, release stunning gasses from his backside, and can even possess the living by detaching his hand and hopping it onto a human head, allowing you to attack your enemies with any weapon your possessed victim has in his grasp. All these attacks aren’t handed to you on a plate, but instead have to be earned upon reaching a certain point in the game.

A simple melee attack sees off those who don’t look too troublesome, as well as snacking on brains, ripping arms off bodies and attacking enemies with the limb as if it were a tough iron pipe. It’s a gore-filled game without a doubt, but it’s delivered in such a comic fashion that some light relief is never far away. Just listen to one of your many victims cry “that was my second favourite arm” when the said limb is sliced off his body, and you may find yourself laughing purely at the pure stupidity of it all.

Stubbs victims even become his comrades, as shortly after being struck down they are soon back on their feet again (sometimes lacking limbs or heads), and with a different diet of brains in mind. Your fellow zombies also unsurprisingly attack people, which can help out a great deal if the enemy are in high number. It’s a fairly satisfying thing to witness a growing group of the undead in an area that was once populated with the zombie enemy.

The occasional chance to hop into a vehicle and mow down your foes is a welcome one, as it breaks things up a little. If you’ve played any of the Halo games then the driving will instantly remind you of whenever Master Chief got behind the wheel, and much like the Halo marines, zombie passengers can even be chauffeured around.

Staying on the subject of Halo, it’s impossible to be unaware that Stubbs utilises the engine of Master Chief’s game, as it proudly claims so on the top corner of the box. Anyone who has played Bungie’s FPS masterpiece will know that it’s an engine that can shift a lot of polygons, and rarely does Stubbs suffer from any severe slowdown as a result of this. The overall look has a grainy filter on top, which is very effective at making the game look washed out and like an old movie (it‘s set in 1959 after all!).

For all its plus points, we don’t feel that Stubbs the Zombie is a game that will live in the memory long after completion, nor is it one that begs you to play through again after the credits begin to roll (which appear rather prematurely it has to be said). It’s still nice to play as a zombie for once, and we could think of much worse games to while away a few hours, although we reckon it’s a title that is best sampled as a rental.

6/10

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