For the past fourteen years, Alex Seropian has been involved in some of the best games to hit the Mac. A co-founder of Bungie Studios, Alex has overseen the creation of some of the most highly-acclaimed computer games around, including the Marathon series, the Myth franchise, and, of course, Halo.
In a move designed to bring Seropian back to his roots, the game designer left Bungie in the summer of 2002 and moved back to his hometown of Chicago, where he eventually formed Wideload Games, an independent game development house, with a handful of fellow ex-Bungie employees. In October of 2004, Wideload announced their first title, and now, almost exactly a year after the announcement, they've partnered with Mac veterans Aspyr Media to release Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse nearly simultaneously on the Mac, PC, and Xbox platforms.
Inside Mac Games recently got the chance to play through a preview copy of the Mac version of the game in order to put it through its paces. Is the game any good? One word: brains.
Brains!Stubbs the Zombie has been labeled an extraordinarily gory, wickedly funny, M-rated third-person comedy-horror action game. The title puts players in control of the rotting corpse of Edward "Stubbs" Stubblefield, an out-of-luck traveling salesman who managed to get himself murdered back in 1933. The game picks up in 1959, when Stubbs, now a reanimated zombie, digs up to the surface and finds himself at odds with the residents of the anachronistic city of Punchbowl, PA. Over the game's twelve levels, players see Stubbs through his personal quest for truth, justice, revenge, and, eventually, true love, all the while fueled by the sour taste of fresh, juicy brains.
Sounds like a good plot for a movie? Appropriately so: Stubbs the Zombie's overall style is reminiscent of American movies from the 1950's, from locales to costumes to props to dialogue. The game pays homage to the pinnacle of the zombie movie genre—Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead film franchise, and even a little of Michael Jackson's Thriller thrown in for good measure—in grainy, scratched, and faded Technicolor film. Classic scenes include bands of zombies, complete with missing body parts, rambling off into the cold night; decapitated corpses feeling around for their next prey; and slugs of armless, legless torsos struggling along the ground meekly trying to take down their next victim by biting their ankle. And, as in most zombie movies, the zombie's victims are never without fault, carrying deep dark secrets of their own.
The similarities don't end there, however, as the action game also takes a swipe at many 1950's Hollywood clichés and stereotypes, from anti-communist war movies to the retro-futuristic themes of classic sci-fi movies of the era. Even the bad guys' futuristic laser weapons are reminiscent of early cheesy Hollywood special effects.
The game's locales are varied and lush. Stubbs features a healthy mix of extremely large outdoor areas, medium-sized interiors large enough to house Stubbs' zombie army, and small, maze-like, claustrophobic interiors. There's even a Hitchcock-influenced cornfield map, something this writer has wanted to see in a game for a long, long time.