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August 20, 2015

Bully (Review of Game)


Bad to the bone...

Release Date: October 2006

Developer/Publisher: Rockstar Games

Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows, PlayStation Network

Genre: Third-Person Open World


Review of Game:


Bully, a marked departure from Rockstar's usual crime-driven open world series Grand Theft Auto, still manages to stand out in it's own right despite an apparently limited premise.

The story starts off simply, with teenage delinquent Jimmy Hopkins being abandoned at the austere Bullworth Academy by his good-for-nothing mother and most recent step-father. Struggling to fit in, Jimmy is befriended by the sociopathic Gary Smith.

Gary takes Jimmy under his wing, helping him pick fights with bullies, vandalise the school, and challenge rival cliques. However, after Gary starts spreading lies around about Jimmy and even sets up a fight between him and another student, Jimmy finds himself in the midst of a war.

Forced to make tough alliances and forge meaningful friendships, Jimmy Hopkins tries to take back his life and save the school from the evil clutches holding them all captive.

The gameplay is not unlike Grand Theft Auto, with a moderately sized open-world populated by colourful characters, a non-restrictive approach to storytelling, and tonnes and tonnes of side activities.

The missions are fun, humourous and sometimes memorable, but often choked by the game's (realistically) strict time schedule, which requires the player to attend classes in school and go to sleep before a certain timeframe.

The narrative works solely based on it's characters. I'm not really a fan of the loose story structure Rockstar often employs in it's games (with the exception of Max Payne), but it works here because of the colourful characters and excellent satire.

While a bit too on the nose at times, the satirical look at high school life is where the game really shines. Characters are exaggerated, but done in a manner most high school students can identify with. (e.g. the cook, the snobby principal, the "rich kids", the "greasers", the "nerds", and so on.) 

The story doesn't end on an excellent note, and the themes in the game are still hanging loosely even after the conclusion, but Bully still manages to shine on as an excellent video game in it's own right, and a worthy competitor to Rockstar's controversial Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Give it a try sometime.

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

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