thelawnwrangler's Bully (Xbox 360) review

Awesome story w/ great gameplay, backed by bad tech. problems



-Really glitchy

-Graphics are not… good

-Loading screens get really annoying and tedious, plus there’s like only 5 of them, and they get tiresome of looking at

-Not enough info until it’s actually needed

-Not the best sound design

-Dialogue from in game AI is on demand, there is no flow (start and stop, for proper situations)

-Animations for certain factions are funny, but it’s just dumb seeing them pulled during a class or something

-Some Animations aren’t pulled off well

-Dialogue from in game AI seems forced when situation is a risen, but continues when it’s done (if I’m running, someone says something, and their words go on for a while, and even though I’m gone, they continue talking and so does my character)




-Brilliant music

-Wonderful atmosphere

-Great gameplay (fighting and minigame, like scramble as english and qix as art)

-Brilliant script (Hilarious and strong)

-Great story in general

-Awesome voice acting

-Brilliant amount of depth (video games, vending machines, chem. Sets, it’s the small things that are the neatest)

-Karma/Faction feature is well done  

              Bully has a brilliant story. It’s got awesome small details, fun gameplay, an excellent soundrack, a well written script, great voice actors, and a huge bundle of charm. Now… that’s all nice and dandy…. But as a video game, and none the less on an Xbox 360 (I’m sure the Wii version is good and bad in it’s own ways as well), it kind of looks and sounds mediocre, if not bad). As well, the general technical standpoint is followed by huge amounts of glitches, which lead to the game freezing, overlapping and poorly timed dialogue, and in general a kind of ugly presentation. But under all of this lies a brilliant story, with so much to offer and do, it’s shockingly great. Though, you can only reach that greatness, if you can overlook the semi-poor technical quality it presents. Kind of like yes you’ll get a slice of this great pizza but I’m going to punch you in the d*ck before you have one. 

            Remember the movie Rushmore? That’s a great movie, with the wonderful atmosphere and small world of riches and vests. Imagine Rushmore, but remove the quirky dead-pan or Wes Anderson and add the gritty, more exciting feel of any GTA game. There’s bully in an awesome nutshell. The story revolves around Jimmy Hopkins, who is being sent off to Bullworth Academy by his mom and new step-dad, who are going on their honeymoon. As a kind of “just doesn’t give a f*ck” kid, a lot of the students and superiors see him as trying to be a hard-ass, but he really isn’t. It’s now up to him to make it up in the ranks, make and break friends, and basically survive the next year in this school some would call hell.

            Day by day you go through several tasks, which consist of item collection, interacting with students, going to class, doing errands for friends, and completing story quests. The quests and errands are normally the same thing, doing things to appease certain factions while trying to avoid or get into fights. What really stuck with me the most were the classes… which is kind of lame of me to say. But in true seriousness, these classes presented in mini games had me having a majority of fun. The development team got really creative with these mini games and made sure that even in class, you’re never bored. English classes consist of word scrambles, science classes have QTEs and dissection games, music has rhythm games, art comes in the form of QIX, etc. They keep you entertained and even have the advantage of giving you, I guess I’d say “power-ups” for when you fight or in general just explore. It’s shocking that I’m praising any type of school-work in this manner.

            The open world gameplay plays like… well… any other sandbox game. Though with its setting and circumstances, things have changed and given you a different arsenal and set of actions are your disposal. Instead of say, guns, you get a slingshot, acid bombs, etc. It’s creative and works well when fighting. And the fighting gameplay works, which a good thing, since you’ll be fighting a lot. There’s combos to pull, a lock-on system, and it feels right when you’re bustin’ the heads of a prep… which should feel right regardless.

            Another interesting aspect of the gameplay is the interaction between characters, like insults, apologies, and even gift giving. You can bribe bullies from hurting you, or just apologize and depending on how good you are at it (you can get better in English class), the more likely they are to just leave you alone. It’s an interesting concept, and helps decide your faction in this school. You can either side with preps, nerds, jocks, or greasers. Your position with these groups depends on your actions toward others. If you pick on the nerds with jocks and preps, you’re more likely to be with those guys. But if you fight back against said bullies, the nerds will befriend you. It’s kind of cool, and it affects the gameplay more than you know.

            Now when I spoke a certain mess about said graphics, I was thinking in terms of a 360 game… now for a Ps2 game, I agree with many reviewers that this is pretty good. But I feel like they didn’t even bother ramping anything up for this special edition. Everything just looks… off… animation wise and sometimes you can’t even tell what people are doing. Now the in game animation looks pretty smooth; it flows well when running, climbing and fighting. Just when people are talking, doing something dumb, or whatever… just looks wrong.

Sometimes the audio has its flaws, especially with some of the in game dialogue. Like when there’s dialogue for a specific situation, it cuts the current dialogue and just pops up, like Ozzy in Brutal Legend when you’re scrolling through his menus. There’s no feeling of flow and everything just felt shoddy sometimes. But this isn’t too much of a factor, for the game is great fun, and it can easily be overshadowed.

            Though it does not deny the fact that this game is glitchy as hell. Jimmy clips through walls, stutters with movement, and the game ever freezes up a lot. As well, I’m constantly followed by bad lighting issues and framerate problems. This just frustrates the player, really. And there’s no stopping it; it sometimes makes things worse with audio cutting out and just making definition on background stuff… bad. This is also counterparted with the overusage of loading screens. I thought this could’ve been dealth with another way. It’s more annoying that there are literally 5 loading screens… I’m tired of seeing the redhead trying to look over the coach’s back and the kid crying to his angry teacher… regardless… it’s just annoying. All of the technical issues are just purely annoying and sometimes take away from the experience of you let them.

            With the voice acting, I can really see and feel the emotion put into everything. The charicatures of Jocks, preps, and nerds are all done very well with the proper amounts overexaggeration, and it just makes everything more enjoyable when beating up who ever you beat up.

This is also complimented by the brilliant score. I first heard Shawn Lee and his Ping-Pong Orchestra from Eastbound & Down with an awesome hip-hop song, and after learning that Shawn worked on Bully, I HAD to buy the soundtrack. I digress… anyway throughout the game, the music comes with this slick Wes Anderson bell set + strings feel but with an added bonus of bitchin’ (yeah I said it) bass lines. There’s funk, a lot of good drum pieces that are strong and aggressive, and basically everything just sounds great. Bad ass… yeah that is how I’d describe it, actually. Everything just sounds right. It gives the feel of the game properly, and it fits in the best way possible.  

 Bully has an amazing amount of things to offer. It has great gameplay and wonderful ideas, backed by awesome style, shown through music, atmoshpere, story, and acting. All of this is great, and done so, so well. The game just happens to have a lot of technical issues and graphics that haven't really been updated for the new consoles. Though the small things added like achievements, multiplayer, and others are neat, they don't give me the full satisfaction I should get out of a 360 game. Rather the game is just there, and thats a good thing even though there isn't a lot more to offer in this new edition. The game is still great, but unfortunately glitchy and technically frustrating. But that shouldn't be a truly bad thing, because by itself, the game is great fun. So muster it up, and fight through the tech. difficulties, and enjoy your stay at Bullworth Academy. 



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