GamingStubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse

I'm the author of Blood and Brains: The Zombie Hunter's Guide, so my brother found me the perfect gift for my birthday, Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse. The only game for the Xbox where you get to BE the zombie? I'm in!

As a zombie, good ole Stubbs has a variety of abilities. He can detach his arm and, Thing-style, walk around and even possess living humans with it by jumping on their heads. He can throw his organs at people and blow them up (gut bombs, get it?). He can even rip off his head and throw it at people. And if he's really feeling randy, Stubbs can fart something hellacious, stunning his enemies.

Of course, Stubbs wouldn't be a zombie game without the ability to eat braaaains. Fortunately, Stubbs can do just that, turning his living enemies into undead allies with a hunger of their own. There's nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your undead children wander out into a city and spread mass panic, eating everybody from teeny boppers to housewives, army men to business men. Good times, good times.

Just playing a zombie would normally be enough of a hook. Lord knows, much of the crap that passes for games these days has just one hook. But the folks at Navarre really enjoy what they do, and it shows. In addition to Stubbs being a zombie, he's returned to a 1950s universe. Standard fare, right? Well, not quite, because this is the 1950s as envisioned by Walt Disney and George Jetson. Robots with perky voices and big smiley faces whirr around on one wheel, offering services and telling people to be polite. Hover cars are everywhere. And of course, the world is paranoid about Communism.

Based on that premise alone, I would buy the game. But Stubbs has a third hook: the music. Music appropriate to the 1950s is interspersed through the game (including a dance off and a jukebox), but modern artists recorded the tunes, including Lollipop and Everyday. The effect is hilarious and actually quite catchy. I got the CD for Christmas.

The value doesn't stop there. Stubbs uses the Halo engine, so you can get into vehicles and use weapons, including scopes and rocket launchers. Bodies fly apart when they're hit, sailing through the air like rag dolls. If anything, the Halo engine sometimes feels forced (do we REALLY need to have Stubbs get into every vehicle and drive it?).

The plot may be a bit simplistic, but at various points it's hilarious. The game makes effective use of its Mature rating by having characters swear and alluding to naughty situations (go Stubbs!). Speaking of the plot, every zombie movie has its homage in Stubbs: from battling rednecks in cornfields to attacking shoppers in a mall. The various characters react accordingly…they freak out when they see zombies, but can carry on hilarious dialogue until then. Military types actively hunt down Stubbs and work together. This is a living, breathing universe.

One that deserves to have its brain eaten for sure.