Bully (video game)

Bully (video game)
Enlarge picture
Game cover
Developer(s)Rockstar Vancouver
Publisher(s)Rockstar Games
Engine RenderWare
Release date(s)PlayStation 2
NA October 17 2006
EU October 25 2006
AU October 27 2006[1]
Xbox 360 and Wii
2008
Genre(s)Action / Adventure
Mode(s)Single Player
Rating(s)ESRB: T
OFLC: M
OFLC (NZ): R13
BBFC: 15
IFCO: 16+
Platform(s)PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii
MediaDVD, Wii Optical Disc, DVD-DL


Bully, also known as Canis Canem Edit (Latin for "dog eat dog") in the PAL region,[2] is a third person action-adventure video game released by Rockstar Vancouver for the PlayStation 2 on October 17 2006 in the United States, and October 25 2006 in the United Kingdom. An Xbox version was planned but has since been canceled for undisclosed reasons.[3] The game is also available in the United States as a special edition that includes a limited edition comic book, and a dodgeball of the same style as the ones used in the game, with the word "Bully" engraved on it.

On July 19, 2007 Rockstar announced Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360 and Wii. The game will feature additional new content.[4]

On July 23, 2007 a Rockstar fan site discovered the possibility of Online Play on the Xbox version after they found the Xbox Live button on the official website, but it will more likely be just downladable content.[5]

On August 7, 2007 RockstarWatch.net reported on the release of the Australian Bully: Scholarship Edition box art which included artwork of protagonist, Jimmy Hopkins, and the school principal. Also discovered was that it appears that Bully will be released in the PAL region (including the UK and Australia) as "Bully" and not "Canis Canem Edit". Unlike the PlayStation 2 edition which was renamed to "Canis Canem Edit" in the PAL region.[6]

Gameplay

The gameplay is similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. It consists of a series of storyline driven missions required to complete the game, and a series of optional side missions. The main storyline is linear but the gameplay not as much, with the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, having the option to roam over the school campus and town, completing missions whenever he feels like it. The game makes extensive use of minigames. Some are used to earn money, others to improve Jimmy's abilities.

School classes themselves are done in the form of minigames, broken into five levels of increasing difficulty. English, for example, is a word scramble minigame, and as Jimmy completes the level, he learns to apologize to bullies, deliver better taunts, apologize to prefects and finally to apologize to the police.

Similar to the Grand Theft Auto series, Jimmy has a multitude of weapons available, although they tend to run along the lines of things a school boy might actually attain, such as slingshots, bags of marbles, stink bombs, and later in the game a bottle rocket launcher and a spud gun. He also has an assortment of vehicles to operate - mainly bicycles with different abilities, but also a moped, a go-kart and a skateboard.

Setting

The game takes place at Bullworth Academy, a fictional independent boarding school in the New England area of the United States. Jimmy ends up enrolled in the school when his newly married mother and fifth new stepfather go on her year-long honeymoon cruise. The school is located in the also fictional town of Bullworth, which resembles Connecticut (this would also explain the high prevalence of 'Old money' and 'Nouveau Riche' influences). The school itself is a classical neo-gothic design and is similar to many other schools and colleges in New England and Britain, in particular Fettes School in Edinburgh. A reference to the year being 1995 as the setting can be seen in one of the various arcade machine minigames but school sports flags show the school as champions as recently as 1999.

Plot summary

The game is divided into six different chapters.
  • Chapter 1: Making New Friends and Enemies: Jimmy comes to Bullworth Academy and immediately runs into trouble with the Bullies.
  • Chapter 2: Rich Kid Blues: Jimmy is now more popular, but he must deal with the spoiled Preppies.
  • Chapter 3: Love Makes the World Go Around: Jimmy gets mixed in with the love affairs of Lola and Johnny Vincent, leader of the Greasers.
  • Chapter 4: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body and Other Lies: Jimmy decides to take on the Jocks, but he first needs to convince the Nerds to help him.
  • Chapter 5: The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hopkins, Age 15: Jimmy, after briefly enjoying his power as king of Bullworth Academy, is expelled. He has to clear his name and get re-enrolled back into the Academy.
  • Chapter 6: Endless Summer: Jimmy can tie up any loose ends, such as finishing races, finding collectibles, etc.

Characters

Enlarge picture
Artwork of the main character, Jimmy Hopkins.
The game focuses on Bullworth's newest student, Jimmy Hopkins. As he advances through his academic career at Bullworth Academy, he may interact with the school's students and teachers, as well as people from the neighboring towns, many of whom will give him tasks to complete. He is greeted by Gary Smith, a scheming, unstable sociopath and Pete Kowalski, a shy student who has yet to make any friends. Jimmy has to navigate his way through the five cliques at the school - the Bullies, Nerds, Preppies, Greasers and Jocks, as well as the Townie kids, the school faculty and all the other adult townsfolk.

Development

Enlarge picture
Bully Scholarship Edition. Xbox 360 cover.
Early information released by Take-Two Interactive seemed to indicate that the player would be taking the role of a bully, and screenshots printed in Electronic Gaming Monthly showed the player-controlled antagonist administering a "swirlie" and throwing a punch at another student. The game uses an advanced engine through Renderware, completely changing all the programming code to make the gameplay different. Rockstar Vancouver also decided to make every student in the school have a unique appearance and, within programming limitations, personality.

Controversy

Bully has caused controversy among parents and educators. Criticisms are due to the adult nature of previous Rockstar games, in particular, the Hot Coffee mod in and to certain aspects of the game, for example, its title (despite the fact the lead character is able to defend others from bullies as much as be a "bully" himself, is trying to end bullying at the Academy and any picking on female characters or smaller children is an extreme transgression within the game's internal rules with immediate punishments besides). Groups such as Bullying Online and Peaceaholics have criticized the game for glorifying or trivializing school bullying. Most of these criticisms, however, were voiced before the contents of the game were actually available to the public. In 2006, the United States-based Entertainment Software Rating Board officially gave Bully a rating of "T" (suitable for ages 13 and up), the BBFC gave Canis Canem Edit a 15 rating[7] and the New Zealand OFLC restricted it to persons 13 years of age and over. In 2007, Yahoo! Games listed it as one of the top ten controversial games of all time.[8]

Sexuality

Sexuality is a minor but present theme throughout Bully. Five different missions involve Jimmy running missions on behalf of different girls, the successful completion of which earn him a kiss. Additionally, the art class minigame is used to improve Jimmy's ability to talk to girls, as well as his ability to make out with them and receive a health bonus which can be expanded by passing classes in art. Although it does not play a role in the storyline and is strictly optional, Jimmy can kiss certain boys.[9] The inclusion of this caused a minor uproar; however, the ESRB claimed it was fully aware of the content when they gave it a T rating.<ref name"=Gamespot.com">Sinclair, Brendan (2006-10-26). Bully's boy-on-boy scene causing a stir. gamespot.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-19. Other sexual themes involve a gym teacher who is stated to have hit on the girls in school, and a student reading a men's magazine - whether the magazine was fully pornographic or more along the lines of FHM can't be told as the magazine's pages aren't visible.

ESRB

Prior to both the ESRB's rating and the release of Bully, Jack Thompson filed a lawsuit attempting to have the game blocked from store shelves in Florida. Thompson declared the game a "nuisance" and "Columbine simulator" (in response, many of his detractors have mockingly referred to it as nothing more than a "Dennis the Menace simulator"). Also, the protagonist of the game, Jimmy, is not a bully towards the nerds and misfits, but more of a defender of unpopular kids and bully towards bullies. He also argued this point on Attack of the Show along with Adam Sessler (with him on the opposite end) on the show's "The Loop."[10] Thompson's petition, filed with the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, asked for Wal-Mart and Take-Two to furnish him with an advance copy of Bully so he could have "an independent third party" play the game and determine if it would constitute a public nuisance in the state of Florida (in which case it could be banned).[11][12] On 2006-10-11 Judge Ronald Friedman ordered Take-Two and Rockstar to provide the court (not Thompson) with a copy of the game within 24 hours. On 2006-10-13 Friedman subsequently ruled in favor of shipping the game, noting that there was no content in the game that was not already on late night TV. Thompson responded to the ruling with fiery speech directed at the judge.[13] Similar attempts to have the game banned have also been made by the charity Bullying Online and Labour Party M.P Keith Vaz in the UK[14]

When given a preview build, however, the mainstream media took a generally positive opinion of the game. Press coverage has described the game as free-form, focusing on building a social network and learning new skills from classes, with strictly enforced punishments for serious misbehaviour (for example, having to clear snow away as punishment for hitting a girl).[15]

Currys and PC World, both owned by DSG International plc, said that they do not wish to sell the game in the UK because it is "not appropriate for Currys' family-friendly image". The official statement lists what Currys believes is "the explicit link between violence and children" as the reason behind the ban, and continues: "We haven't taken this decision lightly, particularly considering the excellent relationship we have with Rockstar." However despite this decision other high street retailers including Game, HMV and Woolworths, Virgin Megastores have all announced an intention to stock the game.[16] Interestingly, DSG stores still stock other Rockstar games including the GTA series, and other violent games like Manhunt, which both have BBFC 18 ratings, where Bully has a BBFC 15 rating.

Reception

Reviews
Publication Score
IGN
8.9 out of 10[17]
VG Resource Center
8.75 out of 10[18]
Gamesmaster
90%[19]
GameSpot
8.7 out of 10[20]
Gamestyle
7 out of 10[21]
1UP
10 out of 10[22]
Review compilations
Game Rankings
87% (based on 87 reviews)[23]
GameStats
8.8 out of 10 (based on 34 reviews)[24]
Metacritic
87 out of 100[25]


Bully has received generally positive reviews from critics.[25] The game received ratings of 8.9/10 from IGN, 9.0/10 from Games Radar, a perfect 10/10 from 1UP.com 8.7/10 from GameSpot, 8.75/10 from VGRC.net, a 5/5 from X-Play, and made the Top 10 Games of '06 in Playstation Magazine. Canis Canem Edit also got 9 / 10 from OPS2 Magazine. Critics generally praised the game's storyline, while they complained about particular stealth missions, as well as the camera. Critics also noted that the game is substantially easier than veterans of the Grand Theft Auto series (Rockstar's flagship titles) would expect.

Awards

  • Won IGN's award for Best PlayStation 2 Action Game.
  • Won GameSpot's award for Best Original Music.
  • Finalist for GameSpot's Game of the Year 2006
  • Gaming Target - 52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2006 selection[26]
  • Came in top ten of best Playstation 2 game of the year.

See also

Notes and references

1. ^ Bully Game Info. GameFAQs. Retrieved on 2007-07-23.
2. ^ Richardson, Ben (2006-09-01). Bully in name change shock. Gamesradar.com. Retrieved on 2006-09-01.
3. ^ Bully for Xbox cancelled. ign.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-19.
4. ^ Rockstar Games announces Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360™ and Wii™. Take 2 Games (2007-07-19). Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
5. ^ Bully Announced for Xbox 360 and Wii - possible multiplayer mode. RockstarWatch.net (2007-07-23). Retrieved on 2007-07-28.
6. ^ Scholarship Edition box art released in Australia, plus new PAL region information. RockstarWatch.net (2007-08-08). Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
7. ^ [1]
8. ^ Ben Silverman (2007-09-17). Controversial Games. Yahoo! Games. Retrieved on 2007-09-19.
9. ^ [2]
10. ^ Jack Thompson vs Adam Sessler. G4TV (2006-08-10). Retrieved on 2007-07-20.
11. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-08-16). Thompson wants to get hands on Bully. GameSpot.
12. ^ Thompson, John B.. Verified petition to take deposition before action (PDF). Ars Technica. Retrieved on 2006-08-22.
13. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-10-13). Report: Judge OKs Bully. GameSpot.
14. ^ McCauley, Dennis (2005-12-02). Brit MP Keeps Pushing Bully Around. GamePolitics.com.
15. ^ Breznican, Anthony (2006-09-08). Bully hits schoolyard, for good or bad. USA Today. Retrieved on 2006-09-08.
16. ^ Bully game dropped from UK shops. BBC News (2006-10-18). Retrieved on 2006-10-21.
17. ^ Jeremy Dunham (2006-10-16). Bully Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
18. ^ Dennis Wyman. Bully for PS2 review. VG Resource Center. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
19. ^ Mikel Reparaz. Ever wanted to smack a sense of decency into your tormentors? Now's your chance. Games Radar. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
20. ^ Jeff Gerstmann (2006-10-19). Bully for PlayStation 2 Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
21. ^ Jason Julier. PlayStation 2 Review: Canis Canem Edit. Gamestyle. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
22. ^ Robert Ashley (2006-10-17). Bully (PS2) Review. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
23. ^ Bully Reviews. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
24. ^ Bully Reviews. GameStats. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
25. ^ Bully PS2 Game Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-07-20.
26. ^ GT Staff (2007-01-05). 52 Games We'll Still Be Playing From 2006. Gaming Target. Retrieved on 2007-07-20.

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