Published on November 5th, 2005 | by Greg0
Zombies and Snipers: Recent PC Games
Sniping is hard to make fun or interesting. Snipers are a lone, solitary bunch, stuck away from where the action is, and you wouldn’t think such an activity would make a very good game. Zombies, on the other hand, have been done to death- Resident Evil, House of the Dead, even Half-Life to some extent- how can you make an interesting, fun game out of such an overworked concept?
It’s nice to know that there is some originality out there, among the hundredth sequel and movie tie-in. Stubbs the Zombie and Sniper Elite are completely different games, but share excellent production values, thought-out controls and good design.
To make a sniping game fun, you don’t make it really fast; you don’t make it super realistic. Make it difficult, set it during World War II, toss in plenty of challenging one-on-one battles through 28 missions, and require stealth and planning.
Unfortunately, the game can feel a little too much like the Hitman series, and they require quite a bit of trial and error- which doesn’t seem like an attribute associated with sniping. On the plus side, the game will take you quite a while, and your efforts are rewarded- this is a game that requires a fair amount of skill, patience, and dedication. The AI, for instance, is pretty good- sometimes frustratingly good- and never is simply waiting for your headshot.
The enemies in Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel without a Pulse are different. They’re human beings, sure, but they’re stupid enough to come face to face with you, a Great Depression-era traveling salesman turned undead. You rise above the typical impression of zombie-as-mindless-drone- you can possess other humans, create your own horde of zombie allies, and of course, eat brains.
It’s gruesome, sure, but handled with a great touch- the game is hilarious at many moments, in a sharp contrast to Sniper Elite’s deadly seriousness. The amazing soundtrack (Flaming Lips, anyone?) and the excellent graphics (powered by the Halo engine) make the game better than, um, mindless fun. The co-op mode allows you to play with a friend, and there are few things more gleefully than leading a pack of your insatiable minions into battle against the frightened, screaming humans.
But Stubbs is extremely short- again, a sharp contrast to the grueling campaign of Sniper. Regular gamers will be able to rush through Rebel without a Pulse in under 10 hours, and though there are plenty of reasons to play again, it’s still a shame that there wasn’t more to explore or some better “boss” battles.
Overall, both are good games, suited to different audiences, but hopefully a sign that the end of creative, interesting games is not so nigh after all.