Stubbs the Zombie sounds like a fun idea: You're a zombie devouring the brains of the living. You can pluck explosive organs from your exposed body cavity and hurl them at the enemy. You can operate your severed hand by remote control until you leap up and grab an enemy's head, then possess his body and make him shoot his allies. Your head pops off too, becomes like a steerable bowling ball, and then you can make it explode. Your ass produces a rotten flatulence that stuns those nearby. Those you kill rise up and become more zombies whom you can order around. These are all reasonable ideas for a fun game, and they're solidly implemented in an approachable, easy-to-play fashion.

Yet Stubbs is dull, repetitious stuff. The group-of-zombies tactics wear thin rapidly, despite their charm, and the enemies don't make things very interesting. They stand around shooting at you and either you reach them to attack before you die or you don't. The tension level never rises and the fun just never really gets going. Leveraging its Halo game engine, Stubbs even offers vehicle combat—but once again the plodding pace and lackluster opposition stifle the potential.

The gameplay is not helped by a problem familiar from the original Halo, which the Stubbs creators had a major hand in: Frequently the player has no idea where to go or what to do. The first vehicle level is a great example. You cruise through a maze blasting enemies until they're all dead, and then you just get lost. Eventually arrows appear to guide you in the right direction, but since they ignore intervening terrain you can follow them straight into a wall. Actually figuring out how to get where they're trying to send you is tiresome and frustrating. Once you do get there, you push a button in a control room with no notion of why you're doing this or what it means. Then you go back into the maze in hopes of learning what's next. Yawn.

Even the Stubbs setting, a 1950s town-of-the-future environment with robots and hovercars, provides only mild amusement. Your zombie antics are meant as a stylistic counterpart, turning this idyllic place into a slaughterhouse, but the irony doesn't pan out. Random dialogue spouted by humans is often funny, but it's small consolation.

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Stubbs isn't a bad game. The controls work fine, the AI is good, the experience smooth. It's just kind of dull. And it particularly suffers in comparison to Destroy All Humans!, an unfortunately similar and better title. In that game you're an alien come to 1950s Earth in search of brains and you have a variety of weapons, psychic powers, and vehicles to play with. These games are a lot alike, but Destroy All Humans! manages to be exciting and challenging with a much more diverse problem set and a lot more humor and creativity.

Stubbs, unfortunately, is a zombie that should have stayed buried.