Bully

By on November 1, 2006

You soon find out, talking doesnt work.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

With Rockstar shifting it’s development over to the PS3 and the Xbox 360, great, epic games with a big budget on the PS2 are coming to an end. The PS2 has already had its last Gran Turismo, its last major Grand Theft Auto, and what looks like its last epic RPG, the eagerly awaited Final Fantasy XII. However, not since the now-cult School Daze on the Commodore 64 many, many years ago has the world seen a decent School Simulator, indeed any School Simulator.

To those who don’t know, Bully, an exclusive on PS2, is a sandbox style game, not unlike GTA. Coming from the same developers and using the same game engine as the series, it’s no surprise that Bully is an excellent game.

You play as Jimmy Hopkins, whose mother has got married for the fourth time and dumps him off at a boarding school to get rid of him. Upon starting play, you get introduced to the Headmaster, Dr. Crabblesnitch, who is very little aware of the things that go on in his school. It’s Jimmy’s job to get a reputation and put the school right. To start with, people treat you badly and try to beat you up, treating you as the typical “New Kid”. However, it’s not Jimmy’s aim to try to fit in or get popular, here merely wants to survive the year and sort things out.

To do this he must get respect and do Jobs for the Various Cliques: The Nerds, who spend their time walking around and reading in the library, the Bullies, who go around beating people up and humiliating them, the Jocks, who are dumb sports freaks who spend their time arm wrestling and playing football, the Preps, who are the popular rich kids, and the Greasers, who think they are hard but are actually just a bunch of people who fix cars and wear leather jackets. Doing jobs for them will earn respect.

Missions consist of small, random things, like protecting a Nerd from Bullies, or stealing from a

Nerdy

girls locker, or beating up someone, things like that. They’re pretty cute in certain ways, considering there is Absolutely no blood and no death, opponents are merely knocked unconscious for a while. Overall the game is geared around fighting, and that’s no bad thing because the fighting is pretty fun but simple. You don’t just punch and kick, you get to use weapons, but only the sort you would find around school, like fire extinguishers, baseball bats, eggs, slingshots, stink bombs, fire crackers etc. The whole game is basically a rather cute scaled down version of GTA. Prefects act as cops, and patrol the school busting anyone who’s in trouble, the Cliques are the gangs, the Vehicles come in the form of a skateboard and BMX, and there is even a girlfriend option like in GTA. (Although kissing them is the furthest you can take it).

The surrounding town, Bullworth is fun to explore, and because the game world is smaller, there is far more detail. The are no generic characters at Bullworth academy, each character is recognisable and has their own personality and voice actor, you really get the feeling you are in a living breathing environment, with endless possibilities and thing to do, like pranks. Pranks consist of dunking someones head in a toilet, giving someone a wedgie, insulting them, throwing a banana skin in their path, etc etc.

And because this is a school, there are classes to attend, like Art, English, and Chemistry

Come on, baby!

(Luckily no Maths) There is a little minigame related to each one, like problem solving or timed button pressing. None are too hard, in fact most of the game is done to just the right difficulty, it always feels just right. The game has a clock which moves slightly slower than GTA’s, still, you have very few seconds to get to class. Lateness and other bad behaviour can result in detentions like mowing leaves and sweeping up snow which are minigames too.

Overall though, what makes this game great are the unlimited possibilities. You can pee in the toilets, kiss gay guys, eat, play Dodgeball or Football, BMX racing, you can play on arcade games, you can change clothes, sneak into the girls toilets, break into lockers, slide down the banisters, pull the fire alarm. That’s only a few of the things you can do.

This in my opinion, makes it a game of the year candidate. It’s not to detached from GTA, yet different enough to make it unique. The game has a great sense of humour and insight into school life, although appropriately, it’s all fairly childish.

There really is so much stuff I can’t fit it all in this review. It has the direction, balance, and a creative edge which is pretty rare to see in games these days.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8
Essentially nothing more that a Beat-em-up with a load of mini games chucked in, but it's great fun all the same.
GRAPHICS
7.9
Good, better than GTA. Could have been better though.
SOUND
8.4
The simple music is really quite good, and the voice acting is believable. The fighting sounds suitably painful.
VALUE
9
Could take you as long as 30 hours, could only take you 10. It really depends how much you try to see and do.
FUN FACTOR
8.5
Looks good, sounds great, and plays cohesively.
OVERALL
8.4
Everything is there, it's well polished and well worth the wait since it's announcement back in 2004. Superbly witty and original. Recommended for anyone who went to school during the last four decades. Excellent Effort.

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