For the past two decades, video game publishers Rockstar Games have been at the forefront of the video game world. Starting with the release of the very influential and controversial Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, Rockstar has since released a litany of landmark titles, including several RGT suites, the Max Payne series, and both Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II. For many companies, making an iconic game or series would be enough. For Rockstar, however, releasing true classics is just a normal day at the office.
No time has been better for Rockstar Games than the mid-2000s. Grand Theft Auto Vice City in 2003 and culminating with Grand Theft Auto San Andreas by 2005, the bar for open-world gaming had been set at an almost impossible level that only Rockstar themselves seemed able to match. Following such a successful series of releases that generated both rave reviews and huge profits, there was pressure on Rockstar to continue releasing games that fit perfectly into the modern spirit of the culture. video game. Indeed, they would deliver.
In the fall of 2006, Rockstar released Bully (known in the PAL region as Canus Canum Edit), a clever and original game based on a teenage boy, Jimmy Hopkins, who is forcibly placed in a boarding school known as Bullworth Academy by his neglectful mother and new husband. Having a perilous reputation for intimidation and general buffoonery, Bullworth proves to be a challenge for Jimmy as he struggles to adjust to the cliquey landscape while maintaining his place at the top of the social food chain.
Jimmy himself is perhaps one of the most nuanced video game characters of his time. He is extremely brutal around the edges and often displays brutal behavior towards his peers, regardless of their affiliations, often being extremely direct and callous to everyone, regardless of social status or stereotypical archetype. But there’s a lot more to Jimmy’s rough exterior than the game would initially like you to believe. While the player primarily controls how righteous or hedonistic Jimmy is between cutscenes, the main story reveals more depth – he has little patience for the nonsense that constantly surrounds him, but he has compassion for his fellow students. class unable to defend themselves. of Bullworth Academy’s dog-eating dog nature, and he goes to great lengths to create an environment where they don’t live in fear.
The gameplay in Bully is similar to what players have seen in previous Rockstar titles as it is an open world game where the player can engage in story missions and side activities at will. Because the game is school-based, a lot of the open-world aspect revolves around the player attending class in order to avoid getting in trouble with Bullworth’s ruthless prefects. The courses cover a wide variety of subjects such as English, Science, Geography, Shopping, Gym and others. While these classes are completely optional and are not an integral part of progressing through the main story, they are necessary to make your journey through the game much easier and more fun. Progressing in English class gives Jimmy the ability to apologize more effectively to people and get out of sticky situations. The gym class teaches Jimmy fighting moves to compete with the bigger, more brutal bullies that roam the school grounds. Excelling in store class allows Jimmy to build bikes with the goal of quickly touring campus and the surrounding neighborhood. And the chemistry class allows Jimmy to build weapons like firecrackers, stink bombs, and scratching powder. If the player chooses not to attend these classes, that’s okay. But school security won’t appreciate truancy and vigorously pursue Jimmy if he is caught playing addict.
A huge part of BullyThe charm of Bullworth Academy is itself. Despite being eighteen and a half, Bully perfectly captures the idea of what the high school experience is like by building a world that feels truly lived-in and fleshed out. Students, including the main characters, are seen wandering haphazardly between periods, communicating with their classmates before gradually disappearing into the classroom. Once the bell rings, anyone who hasn’t already arrived in their respective classes will run frantically to avoid being late. School guards end random brawls in the hallways and around dormitories as bullies ruthlessly roam the campus in search of helpless victims that Jimmy can save or further victimize. The world extends beyond the school grounds as well, with the town of Bullworth featuring several diverse neighborhoods where different cliques of students hang out when not on campus. Jimmy has plenty to do in these areas too, including, but not limited to getting a haircut, shopping for new clothes, taking boxing lessons, skateboarding, or taking a girl on a date at the. local carnival.
15 years later after its release, Bully remains a beloved title with a dedicated fan base shouting its praises from the rooftops. Its entertaining gameplay, friendly characters and charming setting make it an experience that has never been reproduced by a video game to date. Despite sharing similarities with the Rockstar precedent Grand Theft Auto installments, Bully manages to get rid of the tropes associated with open world titles and create its own style and feel. Even though the game uses classic archetypes and caricatures to fill in the gaps, the experience is a one-of-a-kind story that manages to turn its cheeky take on contemporary teenage history into a heart-stopping meta tour de force and substance that gracefully mixes nostalgia and originality. Whether you enjoy playing with the nerds in the classroom or studying the noble art of boxing with the preparations, there is something in Bully for anyone and everyone.
As with any game that captures the imagination of a generation, the hope for a sequel to Bully have been adopted on everything from message boards to subreddits. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether or not we’ll see a new installment in the future. But even though Bully is Rockstar’s one and only parody of the experience of American teenagers, chances are most gamers are happy with what they have.
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