Bully is a video-game developed and published by Rockstar Games, released in the fall of 2006 for the PlayStation 2. It is a sandbox game, which allows the player to complete tasks at his/her own leisure.
The player takes control of Jimmy Hopkins, a rebellious 15-year-old who’s been kicked out of six schools (a Catcher in the Rye reference?). He is dropped off at Bullworth Academy while his (fifth, new) stepfather and mother go on a year-long honeymoon cruise.
On to the gameplay. The story is well written, with good dialogue, albeit a tad too short and rushed. Did I say it gets too easy at times? Different characters here have different personalities, within programming limitations. The gameplay is quite good fun too, but it gets maddeningly repetitive after a while. There isn’t much to do in the game; it’s mostly fighting (read: spamming of one button), running around (or traversing places with vehicles) or interacting with people. Those three verbs pretty much sum up the missions given to Jimmy, with variations of course. The game makes an extensive use of minigames. They are omnipresent, from school classes like English to the arcade games. They are mostly generic, some are based upon games of yesteryear. An example is the Art Class minigame, based on the 1981 Taito arcade game Qix.
There’s not much replay value, given the limited range of interactions. After a while, mindlessly inflicting violence on a random passerby gets boring, especially when the weapons are limited to schoolboy-ish stuff like stinkbombs and catapults (slingshots).
The graphics are great, but not excellent, given that the game was developed some four years ago; it’s pretty advanced for its time though. The artists have put in a great deal of effort on detail. A relatively minuscule example: the folk of Bullworth have proper hands with separate digits, unlike some older games also developed by Rockstar. Each street of Bullworth has a different tileset and building.
Despite the flaws in the game, Bully is a great game for teens and adults alike.
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