Save for some late-to-the-party teachers’ unions still trying to get the game banned in the UK, the real controversy concerning the recent release of Bully: Scholarship Edition on the Xbox 360 is coming from the quality of the port-job by Mad Doc Software. I’m probably a good six or seven hours into the game myself, and though I’ve had it lock up on me once, I find the lengthy load-times and inconsistent frame rate far more bothersome.
Maybe my recollection is just being kind, but I seem to remember this game running smooth and fast when it appeared on the PlayStation 2 a year and a half ago. It’s a wicked rippin’ shame because when it works, Bully is really fantastic. Calling it Grand Theft High School isn’t quite right, but it certainly does a good job of creating a darkly comic satire of high school life for you to let your Id run wild in. That you give wedgies to nerds rather than murder hookers is pretty indicative of the difference in tone.
I don’t want to disparage the abilities of the folks at Mad Doc, but I have to wonder why Rockstar decided to go with a developer whose experience lies primarily in real-time strategy games, and primarily on the PC, when porting this game? Maybe it’s because the Xbox 360 is actually more like a PC than we’d all like to admit, as Rockstar has since released a statement that the game’s technical issues come from some disparity between the debug Xbox 360 units used during the development process and the actual retail Xbox 360s that people play their games on. What’s the point of a closed system, Microsoft, if there are meaningful differences in the way a game will perform on different iterations of your hardware?
Rockstar’s Sam Houser has sworn up and down that a patch is forthcoming, which I certainly appreciate, but it also sparks the concern that those doom-sayers who claimed that the ability to patch console games after their release would be the end of us all weren’t at least a little bit right.