by Laura Hornack
Every so often you stumble upon a game that captivates you in such a way that you can’t stop playing it until you’ve discovered everything there is to discover – for me, that’d be Rockstar’s “Bully”.
Released in 2006 and fresh under the Christmas tree for thirteen-year-old me, this Playstation 2 game sucked me into its world and to this day, never let go.
As James “Jimmy” Hopkins, licensed troublemaker, you get one last chance at your academic career; at Bullworth Academy, the toughest school in New England – where the grounds are run by cliques such as nerds, preps, or jocks, and the teachers are easily bribed.
Making friends and enemies, not only on campus but in later levels all over town, Jimmy has an arsenal of weapons such as a slingshot, marbles, stink bombs, and fire crackers at his (at first) limited use. School subjects will improve his ability to create new weapons, talk to teachers and prefects, harass other bullies, and, of course, seduce girls.
“Bully” has often been called a “GTA with teens”, and, to some extent, that is true – there are rules and laws that, if broken, will have consequences, bikes to be stolen as opposed to cars, lockers picked, and so forth.
Yet what makes this game so intriguing are the variety of characters, even though a lot of them represent stereotypes, they never get boring and develop according to storyline and side missions, of which there are plenty.
The area, once unlocked, is huge and has many objects, hidden hideouts, and lots of stores to explore – in conclusion, the main story, while rather easily and quickly played through, doesn’t even make half of this game.
Seasons change according to your progress, and will affect your fellow pupils and surroundings, as well as punishments & side missions.
You earn and lose respect, find allies, save and backstab, and above all, have one hell of a time enjoying the well executed cut scenes. The voice acting is top notch, the overall atmosphere highly enjoyable, and the amazing soundtrack rounds this game up to be among my favorite even as graphics improve and the overall gaming scene changes.
The Scholarship Edition (exclusively for Wii, Xbox 360 and PC) adds new subjects, new characters, new missions, and new outfits; plus an overall better picture – I found it just as entertaining as the original, and can only recommend it for those of you not in possession of an older console.
I’d buy “Bully” all over again should for some reason my Ps2 break, and there has been rumor about a sequel in the works – definitely heaven for me.
So should you be looking for a game to surprise your gamer buddy with – this is an affordable, (secret?), epic tip for Christmas!