Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bully / Canis Canem Edit (2006)

Genre: Sandbox | Players: 1 | Developer: Rockstar Vancouver (PS2) / Rockstar Toronto (Wii) / Rockstar New England (Xbox 360, PC)

Authority figures: pricks. We all know one. Some of you may even want to be one. For those of us that don’t, Rockstar provides.

The game takes place at Bullworth Academy, a fictional boarding school in New England. It’s similar to the Grand Theft Auto games in that you play a role and have a sandbox environment to kick around in, but it’s not just GTA: School. The scholastic setting is more than just a cosmetic change, and the satire reflects that.

You play as fifteen-year-old Jimmy Hopkins, a troubled youth from an equally troubled home environment. From the beginning it’s clear that Bullworth is as fucked-up as all the other schools that Jimmy has been expelled from, which leaves him with two options: keep his head down and hope the bullies leave him alone, or stand up to them using the kind of methods they understand.

The world may seem small to begin with because you’re confined to school grounds, but progression through the story opens up additional areas to explore and new tasks to undertake.

Between missions you’ll have the opportunity to attend classes that take the form of mini-games. They’re all very simple except for Shop, which is infuriating. It’s not essential to complete all classes, but the rewards for doing so tend to help make progress easier in the missions, so they’re definitely worthwhile.*

Weapons become available (*see above) and fit with the school aesthetic (slingshot, fire crackers, stink bombs, etc), but their use will have consequences.

There’s a lot of stuff to do outside of missions and classes, such as races, shopping and gathering collectibles. They’re not all signposted, so often the onus is on you to explore and find them for yourself. If you've played a Rockstar game before, you'll know how much fun that can be and how much time it can take.

Originally only on PS2, it was later ported to Wii, Xbox 360 and PC as Bully: Scholarship Edition (2008) with additional content. The PS2 version was renamed 'Canis Canem Edit' in PAL territories, a title that more accurately describes the nature of the game world into which Jimmy is unceremoniously thrust.

5 detentions out of 5

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