Zombie games are nothing new, gamers have been wasting
zombies en masse for years. Piling them up like so much undead cork wood. Why do we do it though? Zombies are simple creatures, all they want
is a little hunk of flesh and some brains to get by…OK, so that is asking a lot
but do we really understand the Zombie?
Don’t they deserve more than the business end of a boomstick? That’s the question that Stubbs the Zombie poses.
The game has you playing Ed Stubblefield, a traveling
salesman who was murdered and buried in a remote Pennsylvania field during the great
depressing. Twenty six years later he is
woken up from his eternal slumber and find out that the field he was buried in
is now Punchbowl PA a 1950’s technological utopia built but millionaire, Andrew
Monday, Stubbs must now figure out who
killed him in the first place as well as why he is no longer providing
sustenance to worms, Along the way you’ll get to destroy the technology 1950’s
utopia of Punchbowl and make most of their citizens members of the AAUP
(American Association of Undead People).
Stubbs the Zombie
was developed by the fine (and slightly twisted) folks at Wideload Games. Wideload was founded by a several ex-Bungie
employees who wanted to so something that wasn’t quite as SPARTAN as their last
game. The games does utilize an updated
version of the Halo engine but there are enough differences that you won’t feel
like you’re playing an undead version of Master Chief..
The first thing you’ll notice when you fire the game up is
the excellent sound track. Wideload got
several modern day bands (like the Flaming Lipps and Death Cab For Cuite) to
re-make 1950’s classics like “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Earth Angel” and the
result is excellent. I actually ended up
buying a copy of the soundtrack for my Mom for Christmas (which raised a few
eyebrows but she’s digging the music).
This was a pretty cool idea as the updated tracks really add a lot of
ambiance to the game.
The game starts up with you rising from your grave and then shambling
around Punchbowl learning the basics of being a zombie. As a zombie you are on the strict George
Romero diet where you require five to ten helpings of brains to survive. As most people aren’t going to give them up
without a fight you have to learn the art of combat. Your basic attack is the hit someone with
your arms, stunning them so you can begin to chomp on their brains. Stubbs also has some other interesting skills
that will help you get your daily allowance of brain stems. The first is massive flatulence which will
stun enemies nearby. The second is the
kidney grenade which can be flung to take out multiple enemies at a time. Stubbs can detach his head and throw it which
allows him to scout out areas ahead of him as well as take out enemies from a
distance by blowing it up. The final
weapon in Stubbs repertoire is the detachable hand which he can use to possess
enemies. This is helpful for taking over
the bodies of the local law enforcement and using their guns to take out
What really sets Stubbs apart from a lot of the other games
I’ve played recently is the ambiance in the game. Wideload really nailed down the look and feel
of the game. The entire game is seen
through a sepia tone like glaze and the art direction in the game is
perfect. Punchbowl really does feel like
a 1950’s utopian city, from the robots that inhabit the city to the music to
various technologies of the future that are around the game. Wideload also did a nice job with the load
screens where a group of zombines moan in the background with the groans
reaching a crescendo as the level is loaded.
Graphically the game looks great, probably a little better
than Halo 2 but not by too much. There
are a lot of nice graphical touches (Stubbs has suffered a bit of rot while he
was taking his dirt nap and you can see through sections of him) and the haze
over the screen adds a nice touch to the game.
Animations in the game are excellent and smooth. Wideload did an excellent job of coming up
with the perfect movements for Stubbs.
From this standard shamble to the shamble sprint Stubbs looks and move
exactly as you would expect him to.
Game play is a bit on the slow side. While Stubbs can pick up the pace if he runs
in one direction for a period of time most of the game is spent in second
gear. This can be frustrating at times
when you are getting picked off at a distance and you have used all your long
range weapons and you don’t have any other zombies to help you out.
Another great thing about the game is the sense of humor
that Wideload imbued into the game. From
the dialog in the game to all the 1950’s chic through out the game you’d be
hard pressed to make it through any of the levels without a few guffaws and
there are actually some genuinely funny moments in the game. Sure there are a few moments that fall a
little flat (including a dance off that kind of comes out of no where) but
you’ll have a hard time not cracking a grin while you play the game.
The real negative to the game is that the game is painfully
short. If you really explore the entire
game you’ll still complete the game in well under ten hours. There is a co-op mode which allows you to
play through the game in split screen mode but once you’re completed the game
there isn’t a lot to be gained by going back through the game unless you need a
Normally I would recommend just renting a game that is this
short but Stubbs the Zombie is one
of those rare games that every gamer should have in their collection. I say
this because it’s a solid fun game and the folks at Wideload deserve your
ducats so they can continue to develop new and innovative games.
While a bit on the short side, Stubbs is an example of the innovation we need to see more of in the gaming industry. Itâ€™s not a perfect game but it is certainly one of the funniest, entertaining games to come out in the last year or two.