Have you ever wondered just how Zombie attacks start and spread so easily? Well if COVID wasn’t a good enough example Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse is here to help you live your wildest infection dreams!.
Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse released originally on the X Box and PC in October 2005, announced to be running on the Halo engine it received a rather lukewarm reception from critics and gamers alike. Aspyr have decided to re-release the rotting corpse himself to garner a new fanbase and give it’s cult following something to chomp on.
Stubbs puts you in the decayed shoes of Edward Stubblefield, door to door salesman and as luck would have it dead. Stubbs is buried under the town of Punchbowl and a run in with some plant fertiliser sees Stubbs hunting out the truth of his death and creating a legion of zombies to destroy the town of tomorrow, today.
The cutscenes at times feel a little disjointed and you are left feeling like you’ve missed something or something was cut. The story does have a few moments where it’ll try and shock you but all in all its a serviceable to weak story which relies mostly on your ability to suspend disbelief and just accept what’s going on.
The humour in Stubbs is a mix of quite amusing and quirky to eye rolling bad, Knobb Cheese Farm anyone?. Fortunately Stubbs himself has quite a lot of charm with his fixation on Brains, his hat and making sure he gets his nicotene dose whenever possible.
On the visual scale Stubbs is rough, real rough by today’s standards as expected from a game released in 2005. What the developers Aspyr have done here is remastered the game enough that it is playable but it is a far cry from the HD visuals of even the 360/PS3 generation.
Cutscenes are awkwardly animated, one particular one involving an explosion and Stubbs looked horrendous and there isn’t too much variety in the locations and enemy designs, usually 2 different models for each “faction” you deal with.
The levels also suffer from being too large with nothing in them or on the flipside looking indentical and funneling you through small corridors. Another curious aspect is Cutscenes are quite vibrant and full of colour, yet in game is quite muddy and dark which is a shame as the cutscenes colour scheme is quite nice really.
All the above is a crying shame when the art direction screams character, the world of the future in the 50s backdrop is fantastic and Stubbs himself near enough carries it all with his charming design but visually there isn’t a whole lot that is appealing here in Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse.
The voice acting in Stubbs isn’t much to write home about but the soundtrack is great if not a little bizarre. You’ll hear the song Lollipop quite early into the game and will also be met by bands such as Death Cab for a Cutie and the Dandy Warhols both are bands I haven’t heard since the original release!. It adds to the quirky charm of Stubbs and easily one of its stronger points.
So how does Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse play? To put it simply it’s like a bloody version of Pikmin, interesting right?.
Stubbs is a Zombie and we all know what happens when a Zombie comes into contact with peoplefolk, they become part of the horde!.
While Stubbs has a few abilities and tricks up his sleeve which we will tackle soon, the main pull of the game is creating a wild zombie horde and watching as chaos ensues, using the blind panic to shuffle in and out of the crowd, feeding on victims and adding more to your flock.
So as mentioned Stubbs is kinda special for a zombie, aside from chomping and swiping as standard for his kind he also has the ability to throw his pancreas which explodes and tends to kill people around it, bowl his head in the same fashion with the same results, empty his bowel gasses to confuse prey and finally control people by throwing his hand on them.
This possestion ability turns the game frequently into a 3rd Person Shooter, but not a good one!. You’re limited to slow movement, no reloading, stuck with whatever weapon your victim has and the hit detection leaves a lot to desire. While the ability has a good few points where it’s practically essential, it’s drowned out by the fun of Zombie focused chaos.
Stubbs has control of his zombie horde, well as much control over a mindless corpse with the need to feed as you can have!. You can push zombies in a direction or whistle and have them stumble over to you, it doesn’t always work but when it does it brings a smile to my face seeing my zombie horde converge ready for some chaos.
As I mentioned much earlier, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse runs on the same engine that powered Halo: Combat Evolved, this is never more apparent than in the bigger areas where you are given a vehicle to drive. If you have ever driven in Halo you’ll know what to expect, if not left stick accelerates and right stick turns you, you’ll be drifting round in no time in your Tractor with spike on the front. A random inclusion but a nice way of mixing the rather one note gameplay up.
The campaign isn’t the longest clocking in at around 6 hours at a push, the gameplay also doesn’t really evolve after the first hour or so, blowing it’s load so to speak long before the credits roll. There are some diversions like a dance competition which is fortunately skippable, vehicle sections as mentioned and the odd boss fight but for the most part you’ll have settled long into the games routine within an hour or so.
Stubbs The Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse is very much one of the middle of the road, “A.A” titles that were very prevalent on the PlayStation 2 (much like the Simple Series) and fortunately it’s very budget priced for the occasion. It’s not the most robust remaster but I personally found the main gameplay loop quite fun.
Is Stubbs for you mainly falls in how you take your games, it’s a budget, janky and kind of one note affair but if that note sound pleasing for you, the short run time will fly by. It’s a tough ‘ol game but one of a kind, I personally fell in love with the title very quickly and before nostalgia gets brought into it, I never played this title first time around.
I would love to see more from Stubbs or something at least similar, but I’m thankful for the developers on placing a gamble on this rather obscure cult classic title and re-introducing me to the middle of the road quirky titles of yesteryear.
Not the prettiest or most impressive but alot more fun than a rotting corpse
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.