Reliving high school is a nightmare that most adults do not even want to think about. I mean who wants to go through being picked on by the jocks, being dumped by your sweetheart, or embarrassing yourself by bad clothing choices? Who wants to have to pop painful pimples or study for another test? No one. Bully: Scholarship Edition is the best high school experience that you might ever want to relive. Let’s see if it makes the grade, shall we?
I suppose the ultimate threat for any student is to be sent off to boarding school, and this is exactly what happens to the protagonist, Jimmy Hopkins. Jimmy obviously came from a slightly dysfunctional family where concern from his well-being was the last thing on his aloof mother’s mind. Due to his somewhat disruptive behavior Jimmy is sent of to the prestigious Bullworth Academy. Once he arrives, Jimmy finally realizes he might just be the only “normal” person there, and has to deal with greasers, jocks, nerds, preps, and other out and out bullies.
Bully was originally released for the Playstation 2 near the end of its life cycle. It came up against the launch of the Wii and PS3, along with Final Fantasy 12. Rockstar saw the Scholarship Edition as a way to actually let the title shine both for the Wii and the Xbox 360. It was received with much more enthusiasm on the next generation consoles, and there is plenty to be said about both editions.
Bully is a sandbox title ala Grand Theft Auto, only on a much smaller scale. The world of Bully takes place on the private property of Bullworth Academy along with the surrounding town of Bullworth. In comparison to Grand Theft Auto 4, it might barely 3/4ths the size of one of the island. The size is not what is important though, it is what is inside that counts; Bully has a lot of lively folks inside.
The typical day for Jimmy Hopkins begins at around seven in the morning, with only an hour to cause trouble before his first hour class. You could choose to begin a mission, but you must realize that you will be required to attend your first hour class or there will be school monitors and police officers running after you while you are trying to complete a mission. If they catch you, you’ll be forced to go to class and fail your mission entirely.
The mission variety is amazing, and I do not want to give much away, as this is where the meat of the game sits. As you progress through the story of the game, you will try to befriend each of the factions mentioned before. You’ll do everything from egging houses and throwing stink bombs, to breaking into school and stealing a confiscated diary; and that’s just the easy stuff. Each of the missions are unique, and there is very little repetition involved. As you go through the story the seasons will change and come Christmas time you’ll even be running errands for a drunken hobo dressed up as Santa Claus.
Part of what breaks up the missions is the mini-games that take place in the classrooms. Each of your subjects provide you different types of games. In music class there is a rhythm game, and in Chemistry there is a set of quick-time events to complete. Nothing is ever the same for each class, and as you progress it will get more difficult. The diversion is enjoyable every time it happens. As you complete a level of a class you receive a new reward such as a new fighting move, clothes, and items for combat.
As fun as the missions are, and enjoyable as the mini-games can be, the thing that will keep bringing you back to a little more Bully every day are the people who inhabit this world. The character design and voice acting help bring each of the students and teachers to life in a way that only Rockstar can do. It truly set an industry standard for creativity.
Because this game is a Playstation 2 port, there is only so much that can be done in the way of graphical enhancements. The Xbox 360 version of this game looks great on a high definition television with all of the vibrant colors that the world provides. The attempt that Rockstar made to enhance the graphics cannot go unnoticed for either version of the game.
Obviously Jimmy is not going to try to be hijacking cars, but he is still going to need transportation. Besides running around, you gain access to a skateboard early in the game. Further on you find other modes of getting around that are even a bit faster, just remember your helmet or you might get stopped.
The fighting mechanic in Bully is your typical beat ‘em up style. As you progress through the story you will unlock new combos for even greater attack power. Besides hand-to-hand, you’ll also be able to use stink bombs, marbles, a slingshots, and much more. Fighting is not a key part of the gameplay, but you will find yourself laying the smack-down more often than not.
The Xbox 360 version of the game has a great variety of achievements that just make the game even more enjoyable. From progressing through the story, to collecting flowers and kisses, there are a lot of things to do in this game to increase your gamerscore. Just playing through the game hitting a few here and there will net you over 600 gamerscore. When you hit the endless summer at the end of the game you can easily finish them out.
The Wii version of this game is just as good as its high-def brother. Although the graphics are slightly less in comparison, the world is still vibrant and beautiful. The addition of waggle in combat and movement does nothing to hurt the game, only enhancing it just a bit more.
I can’t emphasize enough how great this game is. Rockstar did an amazing job porting and polishing it into the Scholarship Edition. Either versions of the game are a great value, and should you want a nice time-sink, Bully will net you at least thirty hours of gameplay without completing each of the side quests. If you like the sandbox style, and want to try something different from the hookers and guns…Bully: Scholarship Edition is the game for you.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
A beautiful world with vibrant characters. The loading times can get slightly annoying.
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It is so much fun to pull pranks, and beat up the bad guys.
The voice acting is amazing, but the soundtrack is just average
This game will easily last you forty or more hours if you do everything, and replaying the story is also something worth doing.
One of the most fun video games I have played in quite a long time.