Review: Stubbs The Zombie In Rebel Without A Pulse
Reviewed on Xbox Series X
Stubbs The Zombie is a weird one for me. I originally played it back in 2005 when it released on the original Xbox and I’d got through half of the game before I had a disc read error and I couldn’t complete the game and never did. This was die to the 2nd hand store I’d bought it from never had a replacement and this game ended up becoming quite a rarity to find physically so not wanting to pay extortionate amounts for a replacement I gave up and never finished my journey with Stubbs. Fast forward to 2021 and he’s been given a remaster (of sorts) and I’ve got my second chance and unfortunately It wasn’t worth the wait.
I remember my time originally quite enjoying myself but fast forward 16 years and the game just hasn’t aged well at all. You play as Stubbs, a zombie who has risen up in search of his true love (this is a love story by the way) in Punchbowl city. A retro-futuristic 1950’s city that is a lot blander than it sounds.
As Stubbs you have a basic attack, a jump attack that is so janky it hardly works and four abilities that you learn over the course of the first quarter of the game. You can let out a massive fart that stuns your enemies, use your head as an exploding bowling ball, throw your hand and possess enemies and use your internal organs as thrown explosives. I only used the latter two the most as they are only the four of much help. Your main goal is to kill humans and devour their brains throughout the various levels. The humans you kill turn into your own personal zombie army that you can command to the most basic extent.
As you devour your way through the various levels you’ll come across ever increasingly tougher enemies and weaponry, the difficulty spike is quite a big one as well which can be quite annoying with how janky the game controls. You can commander several vehicles to help you through and they are needed because some levels are quite sizable but are very empty.
The aforementioned love story is so bare bones and is played out in various cut scenes that are hit and miss with the comedic value that is clearly of its time. There is also dancing mini game segment that whilst not that amusing showcases a great soundtrack that is criminally underused.
Across the game you come up against a few bosses which are no fun to play at all cos of how janky and akward Stubbs controls. The final boss is so frustrating that I just had to cheese him by hiding in a room and constantly possessing his guards to use their laser guns against his shields as his damage output was just too much to go up against head on. I was only playing on normal difficulty on my playthrough too and found it challenging.
As for visuals and how the game runs, it’s not bad looking, it runs smooth and hardly come across any bugs which is great for what is essentially a port of the original. I was really looking forward to being able to go back and actually complete Stubbs after all these years, but unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy my time with it much. I’d say for nostalgias sake it might be worth playing again if you did 16 years ago but I find it hard to recommend to any newcomers who are curious in giving it a go.
In summary it’s a good port but a bang average game that can get frustratingly difficult at times. I do hope it sells well for them to think about a sequel though as done right on todays tech, Stubbs 2 could have the potential to be a very good and fun game.