Bully: Scholarship Edition Review
Bully is based in and around the schoolyard of one of the roughest schools in the world, at the beginning you'll be dropped off outside Bullsworth academy by your Mother and stepdad, this will be your home for the next year while they are on a very long cruise. After some brief introductions you are left to make your own way in the school, you have two classes a day to attend and various side missions and a main quest to follow to advance the story. The game has a very open feel and there is much fun to be had just seeing how far you can push people and looking at what can be done, but in the end you'll come back to the liner story line so you can unlock more areas and weapons. The story starts off with another student Gary, he has a plan in which the two of you are going to 'run the school' as you'd expect nothing is simple and the story has you going to various places and performing different tasks, but it stays interesting and is always a lot of fun. The Difficulty throughout the game seems to be rather easy, there were no difficulty settings and I only recall failing perhaps 5 missions across the course of the game. This makes everything feels as though it's aimed at a younger audience than the GTA series. All the expected mission types are there but they have all been toned down, races are a cakewalk in comparison, evading the authorities jumps from easy to frustrating depending on your wanted level and every weapon you have access to is non lethal. The weapons focus on the humor more than anything else, with some being much more effective than others. Your slingshot is upgraded through the game and serves as your primary weapon but you'll also encounter, banana skins, itching power, fire crackers, potato launchers, baseball bats and bricks to name just a few.
The whole game will be complete in 10 – 15 hours depending on how much you plan to deviate from the main plot, but there are plenty of reasons to deviate. Turning up to classes can give you new moves and bonuses, while completing main quests will slowly open up the grounds around the school bringing the map up to an expectable size. Bully also includes GTA style hidden packages and clothing to collect which can allow you to bleed that little extra life from the game once the side quests are compete.
The graphics look great on the most part, most people are looking forward to the 'next gen' right now but Bully does a great job of using the power of the PS2. However there are several times in which the game engine performs a close up on some very low quality textures, this breaks up much of the experience. Besides the texture quality the game does look great, it has 16:9 support and as the day and season changes you see different effects that create a great atmosphere.
The atmosphere is further enhanced by the audio, inside the school you will hear students arguing with prefects and just general background chatter to make this feel like a real living school. Thankfully in the 15 hours I played through the game although I did hear some dialog repeat it didn't ever feel like I'd heard the same line too many times. Bully does not boast a large selection of radio stations and tracks to listen to like GTA as it really wouldn't fit into the game, although you do use vehicles to travel the reduced size of the map from a GTA game means you won't need something to listen to so you can get over the monotony of driving.
Overall Bully is a game I can recommend to anyone who is interested in a new spin on the open ended action genre, it can be a little easy but that can be forgiven through the interesting story line and the fun to be offered by the environment that this game creates