Review by Tony Good



Graphics: 8

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8


Given the content of many of Rockstar’s other titles, it would appear the company deliberately pulled a fast one on everyone. When it was announced that the people who brought you Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt were setting their next title, Bully, in a grade school, naturally many people were screaming bloody murder before they even knew anything else about the game. Would this be a "Columbine simulator?" Would it condone, endorse, or glamorize brute force and extortion amongst children? Would this game be the proverbial last straw, proving once and for all that these types of games DO have an utterly inimical impact on society?

The answer is a resounding “NO”.

bully1ps2.jpg (32506 bytes)But, many gamers may wonder, can Rockstar make a playable Teen-Rated (GASP!) game that’s as much fun as the gruesome, morbidly fascinating aforementioned titles?

The answer is “yes and no”.

Yes, it’s better than Manhunt, which was decent but nothing extraordinary. No, it’s not as good as the GTA titles, but let’s be fair. How many games are?

Jimmy Hopkins (a perfectly appropriate name for the wily, bratty adolescent protagonist) has been sent to Bullworth Academy. Here you must earn the respect of different cliques such as nerds, preps, jocks, etc. Although one would imagine debauchery being more prevalent in a public school… well… never mind.

Shockingly (even more shocking than the goriest executions in Manhunt), going to classes and doing well in school actually upgrades Jimmy’s abilities. Classes include Chemistry which is DDR with the controller buttons, English is a word scramble game, Art is an updated version of Qix, while P.E. is wrestling or dodge ball. Upgrades include talking your way out of sticky situations, creating makeshift weapons like stink bombs, itching powder, firecrackers and being a better ladies’ man (with kisses for health upgrades).

If this does influence anyone, it’ll actually be positive. Surviving nowadays does take at least as much brains as it does balls, and without both (in the game and in real life) you will not and cannot excel.

There are almost no complaints in terms of gameplay. It has a lot of Rockstar’s trademark annoying, agonizing (but in a good way) obsessive searching for objects (i.e. rubber bands, trading cards, transistors, etc.). You fight but never kill, play pranks that are malicious but not truly injurious, pick locks, unlock map areas and vehicles like skateboards and bicycles and… lots of other neat stuff that one should really experience for oneself.

Graphics are very good, but not great. Controls and camera angles are very user friendly. Play mechanics are superb. Sound is mediocre – the only area where Bully does not make the grade, but it detracts little from the enjoyment overall.

Highly recommended. What else is there to say?


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Last updated: Saturday, December 09, 2006 12:01 AM