Review by Mikaufoxy

"Bully Review"

I've played many of the games made by Rockstar Games, most of them being the ever-popular "Grand Theft Auto" series, but this game truly set the bar of what might be one of the most unexpected settings ever known - the schoolyard.

Being the first game made by Rockstar Vancouver, it shares the same gameplay mechanics to that of the the GTA series, and while it has that, it doesn't have the extreme violence that the series does, though you can knock your opponents silly with your fists, sticks, bats, even a fire extinguisher.

Bully TSE puts you in the shoes of mischievous 15-year-old boy Jimmy Hopkins, who got dropped off one day to Bullworth Academy, in the hopes that the young man would be set straight once and for all. Having enough of his snotty attitude and getting expelled from many schools due to his violent and aggressive behavior, his new stepfather decides that enrolling him into the academy would calm him down with its strict rules and regulations. But it's going to take more than prefects and other would-be bullies to take him down. He would be standing up to bullies, pranking the preps, saving the nerds, kissing the girl of his dreams, and learn to ultimately navigate at the worst school around. But little did Jimmy know that this would embark him on an adventure...

Having played the original Bully on the PS2, I've become quite impressed at this particular version, which I like to call a "souped-up" version. Not many allow for enhancements of what is the original story; many sequels are proof of that. And while a lot of sequel games today are as lame as games based off movies, there are some that are worth picking up a controller to. But I'm going to remain on subject and tell you folks what I think of Bully TSE. So, let's get started, shall we? (yes we shall)

As we all know, graphics today get more and more realistic, and there are some differences between the two versions of Bully - not many people can see or spot the difference, but the improvements are right there, and you need a good eye to see such improvements, especially when you're in Biology class. I never expected Rockstar to give us such details when we open up specimens of dead animals during dissection - I thought I was going to lose my lunch when I was dissecting a rat. In addition, I've seen vast improvements on the graphics and the details of such graphics, even the clouds look even more beautiful than before. Not to mention the colors of the sky changes more smoothly than when you look at a sunset in Zelda: Ocarina of Time in High Resolution. Quite splendid, I must say.

While the controls between the DualShock 2/3 Controller and an Xbox360 Controller differ from one another, they both have one thing in common - as long as the left thumbstick is there, Jimmy can move. Otherwise, he'll be moving like a kid who's been paralyzed for life after a boogieboard accident. However, the gameplay has straightened up a little, and while it's not really noticeable, if you can spot the difference, props to you. As I said before, Bully shares similar gameplay mechanics to that of GTA, except if you press both weapon-scrolling buttons (in this case LB and RB on the 360 controller), you can unequip the weapon you have. And if you get Busted, you keep the vital weapons with you, such as the Slingshot, but others, like Firecrackers and Stink Bombs, will be confiscated. Plus you can't stay up all night like you can in GTA - you'll crash at 2AM if you don't get to bed. Worse, you might get robbed, depending on where you are, so it's important that you get to bed before 2am. Plus, when you save the game, time won't advance by six hours. That, and you never get tired from running, so your chances of escaping from authority and other students giving chase are high. Now that's awesome.

The sound and music qualities are both the very same, so there isn't much to talk about, but I will say this - there is added vocal dialogue in the game, which is an add-on, basically. The background music for the game is still there, and it still changes, depending on who you're attacking or who is pursuing you in a high-speed on-foot chase, but it's still not really necessary otherwise, while you're beating up school bullies, giving the nerds a wedgie, or when you're giving preps a swirlie that they deserve. Still, the quality of the music and sound are exceptional, so I will say that to hold true.

All characters in the game have their own voice actors, and while they're still pretty generic, you never see more than one of the same person, no matter how hard you try. It's only when you go into the vast open city of Bullworth, you might see generic townspeople, but that's pretty much it. Prefects, teachers, students, they're one-of-a-kind. Though I do like my personal motto regarding the school authority... "Prefects are defects." Kind of a start, really, whereas you see more than one of the same person in a group when you're exploring the open streets of GTA4. (But the voice actors choose one generic character)

It's a game seriously worth picking up a controller to and spending hours upon hours of straight-up fun if you enjoy beating up school bullies who want your lunch money and running away from school authorities and police officers after verbally harassing them, and challenging yourself to complete all 38 Achievements can be very well rewarding if you manage to do so. So if you like a good, toned-down version of a violent game, I highly recommend Bully: Scholarship Edition. If you manage to find an original copy of Bully (before it had the added bonus material), pick that one up as well - trust me, you'll spot so many differences between the two when you play them.

I guess that's all there is to say about Bully: Scholarship Edition. I should be back within a week or so to do another video game review after playing some of the other games I have in my ever-growing library of absolute gaming bliss. You might even see a few reviews of older games that date as far as maybe NES or SNES games.

Until then, please take care of yourselves, and remember: Stuffing a bully in a locker makes for a great surprise.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/08/08

Game Release: Bully: Scholarship Edition (US, 03/04/08)

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