Guest video game review: Bully

If you’re reading this, I can only assume you’re waiting for my next review. If you are looking for anything other than my next review, you are S.O.L, because that is all you will find here. If you are okay with this fact, then please, do keep reading. If you’re not okay with this, close this window, re-open Google, and try your search once more. Right then, with that said, this is my review of the toned down version of GTA: Bully.

Note that I will be looking at the Xbox360 version of the game, though there are few differences between the Xbox/PC and Playstation 2 versions apart from a few new classes, some new missions, and enhanced graphics that cause Jimmy to look like an ape. Though in hindsight, I suppose it does fit his bully persona.

In any case, I first found out about this game through my cousin. Being an avid fan of video games, I decided to watch her play for a bit. Upon inspection, I found that this game was remarkably similar to Grand Theft Auto. Color me shocked when I looked up the game, and discovered it was made by the same company: Rockstar.

Not really paying much attention, the game didn’t actually catch my interest at that point. No, my true introduction to the game came sometime later when I saw someone else I know playing it. Someone we all know, and who is the reason you’re able to hear my opinion. That’s right – I got into this game because of Robert himself.

One day while paying my good friend a visit, I noticed that he was playing the same game I saw my cousin playing earlier. The fact that he was giving it the time of day finally got my attention. Upon sitting down and really looking at the game, I saw just how utterly ridiculous it was. So, obviously, I was tempted to start my own file and get in on the insanity this game promotes. And, well, to put it simply, that’s exactly what I did.

To me, your first time playing a game can be compared to your first time having sex: It could be a mind blowing experience the likes of which will stay with you for the rest of your life, or it could be seriously lack luster and make you wonder what the hell you were thinking. So which kind of experience did I have with Bully?

The first one, plain and simple – I absolutely loved it.

The story, if you can call it that, takes place in the made up world of Bullworth, and centers around a fifteen year old boy named Jimmy Hopkins. Young Jim is the kind of kid who makes therapists need therapists. He gets into fights, has zero respect for authority, and is just generally one of the most obnoxious little f***ers you will ever know. In other words, he’s hilarious and you’ll grow to love him.

That being said, his behavior grows even worse once his mother marries some old rich guy he hates, which results in the newlyweds chucking him into the hub world of the game: Bullworth Academy, the boarding school equivalent of Hell.
I’m serious, if it’s not your fellow students who want to make your life miserable, it’s the teachers, which range from an alcoholic English teacher, to a drug concocting Science professor. The entire game is as bat$#! Insane as the developers could make it, and I have to commend them for it. I’m impressed with just how damn zany the world of Bullworth can be. It makes for a ton of fun.

So, now that you’ve started your attendance at the wackiest school in the state, what do you do next?

Well, that’s easy – anything you want…within reason. You’re not allowed to leave campus at all during the first act of the game, but don’t worry, exploration of the towns will come once you begin to progress. In the mean time you can do missions, attend classes, or go on rampages, beating up whoever you please. There’s lots of fun to be had in Bullworth Academy, and we’re going to go ever each way to do so.

GAMEPLAY

For anyone who’s played any of the mainstream Grand Theft Auto titles, you should know the controls pretty well. You have a melee attack, a weapon button, and a dodge. Pressing the action button opens doors and other such interactive things. Whenever you’re not doing a mission or attending classes, you can have plenty of fun running around and causing as much mischief as your heart desires. You can get into fights, deliver wedgies, and even give people swirlies (I highly suggest doing this to a prefect, as it is one of the most satisfying things you could ever do in this game)

Since the game is a toned down version of GTA, there are a few different modes of transportation, from bikes to go karts. No cars though – remember, you’re playing as a fifteen year old school-boy. Maybe in the sequel…

Anyway,  you control bikes by holding or tapping the action button to accelerate, and you can use throwing weapons like the firecrackers while riding. You can also hold down and release the dodge button to have Jimmy do a bunny hop. I’m fairly certain some of the hops I’ve seen him do defy the laws of physics with just how damn high he goes, but I guess that’s just how Jimmy rolls.

With the general controls taken care of, let’s talk about how you progress through the game: The missions.

MISSONS

Missions are the game’s main story quests. They are shown as glowing yellow circles on the ground. Upon starting a mission, you’ll be given a cut-scene of a student, or sometimes a teacher, having a rough time with whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish, and they ask Jimmy for help, promising to pay him for any assistance he can provide. Being the greedy little bastard that he is, Jimmy accepts, and thus begins your mission. None of them are too difficult, but there are some that could make you dig into the more colorful area of your vocabulary. Most of the missions deal with certain factions of students, ranging from the lowly nerds to the popular jocks, kings of the school. I’ll get into the factions later, but let’s just say each faction has its own flavor, all of them having their own ways to crack you up.

After finishing missions, you’ll usually be given money, as promised by your client, and sometimes you’ll even be given new items, like a skateboard for faster travel, or a hi-tech slingshot with a scope, allowing you to snipe people from long range. I always get a kick out of scoring headshots on whatever faction is giving me trouble at the time – BAM, you picked the wrong kid to f%&^ with, ass-hat!

CLASSES

Classes are essentially quick little mini-games that grant you upgrades to different attributes, such as social grace, ranged weapon accuracy, or fighting moves. Like the missions, most of these are pretty simple, and the ones you do fail at can be beaten with a little trial and error. One of my favorites is shop class, because it’s just a Quick Time Event, and with each version of it you beat, your bike is upgraded, making it faster and able to bunny-hop higher.

After beating the first chapter of the game by completing all of the current chapter’s missions, you will be given access to the town of Bullworth. This is where the game really starts to shine. With this sweet freedom comes a few new aspects: Clothing stores, barber shops, and odd jobs.

EXTRA STUFF

Clothing stores allow you to customize Jimmy with different outfits, depending on where they are located. As far as I know, there are a total of three clothing stores in the game, which I will label as such: The average Joe store, the fancy designer store, and the punk store. You can probably guess what kind of clothes each store sells by those names.

Barber shops will let you customize Jimmy’s hairdo, and just like the clothing stores, there are three of them, each giving you different styles: Regular, fancy, or punkish. Not much to talk about here, just another way to make Jimmy look different.

Odd jobs are side-quest type missions shown as green circles on the ground. These range from mowing lawns to starting a paper-route. The paper route is the more fun of the two, giving you a time limit to ride your bike all over town, tossing papers into mailboxes. You can toss your papers at people as well, but you have a certain amount, so don’t waste all of them, or you will fail the job.

Well, so far I’ve discussed some of what you can do in the game. But what about the people you interact with when performing these tasks? How are the NPC’s? There are so many that I won’t go into specifics, but I will break them into their respective factions and cover each of them.

NPC’S

Alright, let’s talk about the lowest faction of the food chain: The nerds.

NERDS

These wimps will be your first clients mission wise. They don’t put up much of a fight unless they are in possession of firecrackers or some other ranged weapon. The nerds are at war with the jocks, wanting to become all powerful rulers of the school, and they are perfectly fine using dirty tricks and enlisting hired mercenaries such as yourself to do so. Their missions mostly relate to defending them from the jocks. One of the more important of the nerd missions is “The Candidate” in which the leader of the nerds, Earnest, runs for class president, but knows the jocks will try to ruin his speech. So, he hires you, lending you that high powered slingshot I mentioned earlier. After completing the mission, Earnest is so thankful he tells you to keep the slingshot and use it in any way you see fit. This is one of the best weapons in the game in my opinion.

BULLIES

These guys are mainly only a direct problem in the first chapter. They are just general jerks to anyone who cross their paths. They rarely use weapons, preferring to rely on fisticuffs. The only problem with this is, they are nearly as weak as the nerds, flailing their arms like they’re having a seizure. Huh, I guess they don’t have much experience fighting kids who actually know how to scrap – like Jimmy.
As such, they’re easily dealt with. The only one who will give you a run for your money is the boss of chapter one, Russell, a modern day Neanderthal. But with some skill and a few firecrackers, the big lug will go down pretty quick.

After chapter one, you won’t really be dealing with bullies very much, so I’ll talk about the next most dangerous faction: The preps.

PREPS

Ah, you snobby pieces of $#!+. The preps may not seem too intimidating, but unlike the bullies, they know how to handle themselves in a fight. They favor the noble art of boxing, and when you’ve got a whole group of them ganging up on you, they can be a tricky foe. They like to dodge your attacks and come at you with counters, so keep your guard up at all times when fighting them.

The prep missions are pretty fun, especially when considering a few choice cut scenes, one of their best quotes being “Beat him back to the Ghetto!” as I said before, this game is hilarious, and it’s one of the game’s best features.

Not much more to say on these guys, so let’s move onto their sworn enemies – The Greasers.

GREASERS

The Greasers are poor kids who live in the slums. Because of this, they are tough, and some of the most competent of your fellow students when it comes to scrapping. They like to attack you in numbers, and know how to use teamwork. Be cautious when fighting them, and don’t let them surround you.

The greaser missions mainly have to do with the war between them and the preps. Their leader, Johnny Vincent, is having woman trouble. His girlfriend is cheating on him with one of the preps (among many other guys), and it’s one of the big reasons there is a war to begin with. Johnny is definitely one of my favorite characters, and I love every cut-scene he’s in.

JOCKS

Being the last faction you confront, you’ll be dealing with the jocks for a majority of the game. They’re big, strong, and have a ton of health. During the earlier parts of the game, fighting a group of three or more of them is suicide.

Remember how I said most of the nerd/bully missions were just defending the nerds? Well, the jock missions are all about helping the nerds finally strike back. It’s incredibly satisfying to finally be bringing the fight to the jocks after all the time spent avoiding them throughout the beginning of the game.

Now that we’ve discussed the gameplay and characters, it’s time to talk about presentation!

GRAPHICS

If any of you have played Rockstar’s games before, you’ll know just what to expect when coming into Bully. The game looks fantastic. There is so much detail in both versions, though the Xbox/PC version’s graphics are admittedly better, excluding Jimmy’s ape-like appearance. When they want to give you the feeling of roaming a huge school, you feel it. When you stroll through town with the inevitable goal of causing trouble to anyone other than yourself, you really feel like you’re in a real town. I really have to hand it to Rockstar, they make their games look wonderful.

MUSIC

Okay…this is where I really start to give Rockstar a blowjob. The music of this game is absolutely, positively, incredibly, completely superb. If you couldn’t tell, I kind of like this soundtrack a little. To be honest, Bully’s music makes it into my top favorite video game soundtracks of all time.  THAT is how good it is. Don’t believe me? HA look up “Comic Klepto” or “Dishonorable fight” on YouTube and I dare you to try not to bob your head. Shawn Lee, the game’s composer, made one hell of an original score, and it’s one I’ll happily listen to whenever I’m doing chores.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s no way I could cover everything that’s great about this game in one review, it’s simply to big.  But I see that as a good thing, because it gives you many things to discover and be pleasantly surprised by.

Okay, time for my final verdict! You can probably guess what I’m going to say by now, but for the sake of this being a review, I’ll say it anyway.

Dear God this is a fun game. I’ve beaten it multiple times, and still come back for more. You know you’ve got an amazing game on your hands when you can’t resist replaying it over and over. With its hilarious characters, engaging gameplay, awesome graphics, and UNBELIEVABLY catchy music, this is one I’ll be stoked to replay any time. I’m trying to come up with flaws for the game, just so it won’t seem like I’m sucking up to Rockstar, but any I could come up with would honestly be small nit-picks. For that reason, I’m going to score Bully with a perfect 10 out of 10. A must play for those of you who miss your childhood and want to go back to the good old days. I will always be glad I was introduced to it, and it will forever hold a permanent space on my shelf.

Advertisements