8.0 / 10
recent years, the issue of bullying in schools has become a hot topic in
the media. At the same
time, mainstream news outlets have enjoyed “informing” the common
folk just how the Grand Theft Auto series is arguable the single
greatest culprit in tearing apart the moral fiber of the Western world.
So, it was interesting seeing how media outlets reacted to
Rockstar making a game called Bully.
The media simply assumed this would be a game neck-deep in sin,
and provide the killing blow to all that is right and good in today’s
youth. It’s too bad many
of these people never played the game, or else they would have noticed
the whole put was to stop bullying, and not encourage it.
They would also have noticed that the keywordsgame is quite fun too.
on the role of troubled protagonist Jimmy, players find themselves in
Bullworth Academy, a high school with a thing for discipline. After being kicked out of countless other schools, Jimmy
finally wants to reform, but in order to do so he will have to learn how
to deal with the many cliques at the school.
Maneuvering the many factions of Bullworth means getting people
to get along with one another, which is no easy task given the long
standing differences these groups have had.
As such, Jimmy may need to use diplomacy to advance his goals,
but failing that there are always his fists.
The game plays out in a mission-based fashion similar to that found in the Grand Theft Auto series, as Jimmy travels to hot spots on the map and players hit the triangle button to begin a new mission upon reaching said spot. From there missions can be anything from fetch quests, to escort missions, to bicycle races, tagging walls, or getting into a fight.
Most of the missions, are of the variety we’ve seen in many other action games, but they are satisfying. Exploration plays a very big role in Bully, and it is done in a way that doesn’t feel tedious. Many of the missions require players to trek all over the place, but along the way there is usually something glistening off in a
somewhere that is worth investigating. It may be a rubber band, a role playing card, or some other
item, but these are a reflection of the sheer number of things players
can collect that, when a set is complete, unlock other goodies. So, if you happen to be a sucker for these things, consider
are also a ton of mini games in Bully, as players can take part in daily
classes at the school, where completion of each section unlocks new
items and abilities for players. There
are also other activities, like the various sports around the school,
the boxing arena in town, various bicycle races, and even an amusement
park for players to fiddle around with.
The level of sandbox styled gameplay options is nicely varied,
and more than enough to keep players busy for a very long time.
there is plenty of good clean fun in the game, there is still the option
for mischief as well. Over
the course of the game, players will get a hold of things like itching
powder, stink bombs, firecrackers, potato guns, a slingshot, and other
such goodies. Sometimes
players may want to use them to cause trouble, but they can also serve
tactical advantages by distracting or incapacitating enemies.
By the end of the game, the variety of items players can carry
with them is impressive, and provide a lot of options for how one can
tackle their missions. Also
nice is that some of the items are a little less invasive like the
camera and skateboard. Of course, there are good old-fashioned fisticuffs for those
so inclined. The moves are
pulled off mostly by using the square button with the triangle button
thrown in from time to time. It’s
a very simple approach, but it gets the job done, and makes sense within
the overall simplistic control scheme of Bully.
the while, the controls are generally quite responsive. The one area that could use some work is in shop class where
the game doesn’t respond well at all.
I often found myself being told that I did something wrong,
despite using the controls as directed.
It was very frustrating.
Bully is serviceable, but not spectacular.
The graphics are not very detailed, and to some extent show how
the PS2 is aging. Thankfully,
the frame rate keeps up, and the action is quite smooth.
However, I did find myself fighting with the camera from time to
time so to see what was going on properly.
Offsetting the ho-hum visuals of Bully is the game’s audio
experience. The music has a
nice jazzy, funky quality to it, and listening to the random ramblings
of passersby is often entertaining.
The main voice acting is decent.
Some of the dialogue can be aggravating, especially some of the
high school drama. For
someone like myself who has been out of school for over a decade, the
themes discussed can feel a bit trite, but it is still possible to
muddle past this.
Nonetheless, what Bully provides is a very solid, satisfying experience. There’s a lot to explore, plenty to collect, and a whole bunch of mini games to enjoy. For all of the claims by the mainstream media that this game is just like GTA, and will be a great harm to society’s moral fabric, the truth is far from it. If anything, Bully shows that there is a lot grayer in ethics than many are willing to admit, and Rockstar even manages to pack this message in a fun game.
(November 20, 2006)
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