Hands on Preview
Nicholas ďbapenguinĒ Puleo
was announced back at E3 2005 to a small closed door group of press it immediately garnered a ton of attention. Unfortunately it was the wrong kind of attention with numerous groups and a lawyer that should not be named claiming the game was a Columbine Simulator. These people went as far as saying the game should be cancelled and that it was irresponsible of Rockstar to make such a game. These people are also idiots. They were irresponsible for not getting all the information on this game before making these outrageous claims. Bully
is a caricature of boarding school life. Bully
is no more a Columbine simulator than robotic crabs are a part of Japanese history.
you play Jimmy Hopkins, a 15 year old kid with a mom who is a professional wife. With his mom on her 5th marriage, the game starts with her and her latest husband dropping Jimmy off at a New England boarding school named Bullworth Academy. Being at a boarding school isnít easy though as Jimmy tries to fit in with the numerous cliques in the school. On top of that Jimmy must attend a morning and afternoon class as well as make sure he gets a good night sleep each night. The game takes place over the course of a school year and is broken down into 5 chapters. During the school year the weather and seasons will change as will the decorations around the school according to the holiday.
Your main base of operations is your dorm room. From here you can view your in game achievements proudly displayed on the wall above your bed. You can also change outfits to fit in with the different cliques around school. Your dorm room is also where you must sleep at night. Jimmy needs his sleep and if you stay up too late the game starts to slow down and get blurry, and if you arenít asleep by 2AM Jimmy will pass out from exhaustion wherever he is. In fact most of the game follows a strict schedule like this.
Each morning and afternoon Jimmy must attend a class. There are 6 classes to choose from including photography, art, English, chemistry, shop and gym. Each class is a mini game and each class contains 5 levels of difficulty. After completing a level in a class Jimmy unlocks a new skill. Pass level 2 in English and maybe Jimmy can talk himself out of a difficult situation, pass level 4 in Chemistry and maybe Jimmy is able to create stink bombs.
Like I said before the game has a strict schedule and if Jimmy misses one of his classes he will be truant. The top right of the gameís screen shows a small meter displaying your current violations. Examples of violations include truancy, violent, trespassing, past curfew and a handful of others. While in violation prefects walk the campus looking for kids skipping class and in violation. Looking at the radar you can see prefects in a Metal Gear Solid style cone of vision overlay. If one of these prefects spots you they will chase you down and your only escape is to hide in lockers or garbage cans until the coast is clear.
So this game is called Bully
so surely there must be fighting, right? Indeed there is. The fighting system is incredibly simple and relies on pressure. The longer you hold the button the harder you hit. There are a few different moves and grabs you can do. As your opponentís health goes down and gets into a red zone you can do a humiliation move to finish him off. Examples of these moves are Indian burns and wedgies. Contrary to popular belief no one dies in Bully
, and in fact there isnít even any blood in the game. You can get various items like Eggs and Stink bombs to throw at people. There are certain weapons you can get like baseball bats and sling shots, but there are absolutely no guns in the game whatsoever. And letís face it; Bart Simpson used a slingshot 15 years agoÖnothing shocking here.
The game features 6 cliques; the nerds, the jocks, the greasers, the preps, the townies and the bullies. Each one of these cliques has strengths and weaknesses. As you complete missions your respect with each group changes accordingly. A lot of the missions involve helping out one clique that is being picked on by another clique. For instance, one of the first missions of the game has you helping out the nerds. One of their buddies has gone to the garage to get a part for a science project. Unfortunately he hasnít returned in a while so the nerds hire you to find out where he is. When you arrive you find the Greasers are picking on the poor kid and you have to defend him. Every confrontation gives you the option of trying to talk your way out of it. If your English skills are high enough you may be able to persuade a group to do something, especially if your respect is high enough amongst that group.
Rockstar demoed various missions from the game. I saw mission from the beginning to missions from later on in the game. There are a variety of missions with multiple tasks involved to completing them. For instance one mission had a teacher asking you to kill a studentís prize Venus fly trap. To do this you had to sneak into the prepís dorm. The first step was to dress up like a prep and get a haircut like a prep. From there it was into the dorm and up to the plant. You then could use a plant poison gun (conveniently located nearby) to put the plant down. After that it was a mad dash to escape the dorm as the preps tried to get you. One part was particularly cool as I was cornered at the top of a stairwell by a few preps. I managed to literally slide down the railing past everyone and out the front door. It was a tense moment and a very exciting escape.
As you can see not all missions are violent. One of the very first missions in the game involves you finding chocolates for a fat Swedish girl that had them stolen. Recovering the chocolates from the boy who stole them yields a nice reward of a big fat smooch from the chubby little girl. Kissing gives you a health boost. In fact thereís a whole dating aspect to the game. Players are able to give various girls chocolates and flowers to get them to like them and try to play a little smoochy smoochy. But be warned, you canít go big pimpiní everywhere; if one of your girlfriends catches you smooching another girl sheíll get angry.
The game of Bully
takes place in a living breathing world. After the first chapter is complete you can enter the town for exploring. Later on there are other areas like the upscale section of New Coventry or the Blue Sky Industrial complex. All of these areas are fully interactive and contain the 100 or so unique NPCs in the game. Every person in the game is unique and has jobs and tasks. While roaming around town there are times you will see members of the school running errands.
is the kind of game anyone who has ever been to junior high school or high school can relate to. With over 30 hours of gameplay time as well as side missions the game should keep you fairly busy for a while. The game features a wide variety of mission types and a living breathing world that allows you to get attached to the story and itís characters. And like all Rockstar games, the game will track crazy stats of your endeavors. Be sure to see how many banana peels people slipped on or how many people you stuffed in a locker.
Look for Bully
on the Playstation 2 on October 17th.
- bapenguin Ė