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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Review of Bully for the Xbox 360

Ryan's Official Review of Bully, Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360

Overview: Bully is a one of the kind game made by Rockstar and is quite similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. However, unlike GTA, in Bully, the game takes place at the Bullworth Academy, where you control this student called Johnny. Like GTA, you can do almost anything you want that you can't normally get away with in real life school, whether it is pulling the fire alarm, trying to skip classes, getting in fights on your first day of school, taking on multiple girl friends, etc. Of course, like the GTA universe, the prefects, cops, teachers, and staff members will try to bust you when you do stuff you should not do (such as skipping class, violating curfew, fighting, etc), and if you get caught, sometimes Johnny will be sent to the principal's office who gives Johnny detention by having him mow lawns or shoveling snow. Classes that Johnny takes are actually more like mini games. In band class, it is much like guitar hero, where you have to push the right buttons at the right time, in gym your guy usually has to either do wrestling or dodgeball, and in biology Johnny gets to dissect something (such as rats, toads, pigs, etc).

Besides classes, you will find that the game operates on a timer system, where hours will go buy in Johnny's world, and what goes on in Johnny's life depends on the time of day. From 9am to 4 pm, Johnny is expected to attend classes at school until he has completed all of the levels for them (you can try to skip classes, but watch out for prefects and other authority figures who will try to bust you when skipping). After 5 pm, Johnny can't be in the school building without the risk of getting busted for trespassing. Curfew begins at 11 pm, which means that prefects will try to bust Johnny for curfew violations if he is outside of the men's dorms any time after 11 (though it is not hard to hide from them or stay out of sight). And if Johnny is up past 2 am, he will pass out (if you are out in the open when that happens, he can get "robbed" in his sleep and lose stuff, such as money). Of course, besides the usual routine, you will progress through the game by completing all of the levels of the classes you attend (5 levels each), doing the story line missions, finding hidden objects, interacting with other students, and opening up new areas by progressing in the game.

Pros about the game:
- fun to play
- the GTA style of game play does mean that there is some twisted humor in the game (such as getting into mischief and trying to elude authority figures or trying to break the world record of detentions you can get).
- the content is not as offensive as the GTA series are (when you get in fights, the people you fight only get knocked out but do not die, for example)
- can be a good way to relive your high school career if you miss those days
- fun to play (and can get addicting after a while, like most GTA style games, as you can play it for hours on end and lose track of time while playing)
- get away doing that you can't normally get away with in school (i.e., pranks, truancy, getting in fights, hazing, etc), though you can get busted doin
g those things. For example, whenever you pull the fire alarm, the lady on the intercom will taunt Johnny

Negative aspects in the game:
- Like most GTA style games, Bully does have content that may be offensive to some (there were some controversies when the game was first released, for example)
- the game background music is pretty much the same most of the time in the game and can get annoying after a while. I know when I play this game, my brothers have gotten annoyed by the repetitive music. Of course, you can turn down the music volume if you want (which is what I did later in the game).
- the time system can be a nuisance at times, especially when you try doing missions. For example, if you do a story line mission either during class time or after curfew, you will have added an extra difficulty for yourself as you will have to complete the mission while watching out for authority figures at the same time who will try to bust you. Perhaps the easiest way to free up extra time for missions would be to try and beat all of the classes early in the game before attempting to do misssions, because then when you have completed all of the classes for that quater, you will not have to attend those classes any more, giving you plenty of extra time doing other stuff, including errands, story line missions, as well as side missions.
- the daily routine system can get boring to some (doing the same stuff each game day)
- some classes will be easier to pass than others, naturally.
- Like many GTA games, you will find that Jimmy is a too much of an errands boy, meaning that as you progress through the game, Jimmy will have many different bosses from cliches of people (i.e., nerds, preppies, jocks, etc) to look up to, and some of Jimmy's employers will have him do some really outrageous tasks. In one of the later missions, for example, you will have this manager by the name of Earnest (who is the leader of the nerds), and he will have you sabatoge a football game that the jocks are playing (which will result in the jocks hating on your guy as well as a boss fight against the leader of the jocks).

Tips and strategies when playing this game:

1. sometimes Jimmy will find himself in trouble with the authorities (i.e., prefects, cops, etc) and you will know when Jimmy is in trouble when Jimmy does something wrong and his trouble meter goes up, and typically the more trouble Jimmy causes, the higher it goes and the more the authority figures will pay attention to Jimmy. Also, for serious offenses (such as picking fights with kids, girls, and adults), your trouble meter will fill to the max and the prefects, officers or other authority figures will come upon you right away and bust you if they can. By the way, sometimes if you get busted often (by prefects or teachers, excludes cops), Jimmy can be sent to Dr Crabblesnich's (the school principal) office, and get detention (not before Dr Crabblesnitch chews Jimmy out about his deviant behaviors). There are 3 ways you can take on authority figures when they try to bust you: 1) run a way and hide (especially if you have a high wanted rating), 2) attack them head on (not recommended because then they can simply grab Jimmy, and when they do, Jimmy will be busted on the spot), or 3) if you must fight them, go to a high area where they can't grab you and knock them out with your slingshot or a similar weapon.

2. Even if you decide to make Jimmy into a nice guy, fights are inevitable. This is especially true as you progress through the game and do missions for one clique that pisses off another clique. The clique system is quite similar to the gang system in various GTA games (such as San Andreas), and you can see their respect meter under the stats page, and whenever a clique has a respect rating of 50% or less, they will try to attack Jimmy on sight. When fights do happen, watch out for prefects and other authority figures, because they will try to bust Jimmy if they see him fighting, and so there are 3 ways you can go about fighting: 1) running away, 2) take them head on (can be easier if you lure your would be attacker to a location where there are no authority figures close by and take them out that way), or 3) take them out quickly with a weapon (such as a slingshot, spud cannon, etc).

3. Consider completing the classes earlier in the game for 2 reasons: 1) many of them give you bonuses (such as extra fighting moves in PE classes, more health when you kiss girls, etc), and 2) they can be a nuisance when it comes to main story line missions (even easy missions can be harder than normal if it is during class time since authority figures will try to bust Jimmy for truancy, thus causing him to fail in the mission).

Characters of note in Bully:

1. Jimmy Hopkins - this is the game protaganost and will be the character you control throughout the game. Apparently prior to this game, Jimmy had been expelled at several other schools prior to Bullworth, and his parents are off on a cruise somewhere while Jimmy is at Bullworth (they are probably glad to get Jimmy out of their hair).

2. Gary Smith - Gary is actually the main villian in this game. At first, he is one of Jimmy's friends and Jimmy does do missions for him, but as you will see, eventually, Gary will show his true covers and become Jimmy's enemy. One thing worth noting is that after you complete chapter 1, Gary disappears from the game and does not resurface until chapter 5, with a diabolical scheme to get Jimmy expelled and take over the school (you will learn more about it while you play through the game).

3. Dr Crabblesnitch- Dr Crabblesnitch is the school principal at Bullworth and is one of the first people Jimmy encounters upon arriving at the school Afterwards, you will not see much of him until the last chapter in the game, unless you get Jimmy busted often on campus. Usually for every 3rd time Jimmy gets busted (provided that it is not class time or after dark), Jimmy will see Dr Crabblesnitch (who gives Jimmy detention for his deviant behavior).

4. Pete - He is one of Jimmy's side kicks in the game and does not belong to a particular clique.

Cliques in Bully

- Nerds: initially, these are Jimmy's allys and are the nerdy types of people you see on campus and are lead by a man name Earnest. They often hang out in the dorms, library, and in the academy.

- Bullys: these are the guys and gals that like to go around and pick on others on campus. Initially, they will go after Jimmy on occasion, but after you beat chapter 1 they will like you and you will not have to worry about them. They often hang around school and in the parking lot.

- Jocks - these are the sports players that hang out on the football fields and near gyms. Until chapter 4, they will be hostile towards Jimmy and attack him on site. One little secret, once you get towards the end of chapter 4 one of the cheerleaders will become Jimmy's unofficial girlfriend.,

- Preppies: these are the rich kids you will encounter near the Harrington house and in town. They will be hostile towards Jimmy until towards the end of chapter 2. They like to box, and so they can be tough fighters to beat up. The preppies are lead by Derby. One thing of note: Jimmy has a thing against rich kids in the game, hwich makes things a bit interesting.

- greasers: these are the grungie looking students that hang out near the parking lot and are lead by Johnny Vincent.

- prefects: these are the burly security guards you see around school and are there to enforce school rules. Piss one of them off, and they will try to bust you in a heart beat. Depending on the time of day, if you get busted by the prefects, they will either send you to class if you are caught truant, send you back to your dorm (if it is after hours), or either bust you and let you go or send you to the principal (who gives Jimmy detention). The only rule they don't really seem to enforce is the dress code. You can dress up as a total clown, for example, and while they do taunt Jimmy for not wearing his school uniform, they wil not try to bust him on that.

- school staff- these are some npcs you see on campus, including teachers, the lunch room lady, the resident dean in the girls dorm (they don't take kindly to male visitors in the girl's dorm), a school nurse (usually hangs out in the girl's dorm), as well as Dr. Crabblesnitch's secretary. They all pretty much act like prefects, and will make sure that Jimmy stays in line while at bullworth. If Jimmy gets in trouble with them, they will act like prefects and try to bust Jimmy, with the same results if he gets busted by the prefects.

- teachers- you will not see them outside of class time, but some of them have unique plots outside of class time (such as the English's teacher's drunkeness and crush on the art teacher, the band teacher needing Jimmy to perform at a Christmas Concert), as well as the math teacher's grudge against the english teacher.

- police: outside Bullworth, the police are the authority figures that aim to maintain law and order around town. Unlike authority figures on campus, they will not send you to the principal's office when busted but will either catch and release you at the police station, or send you back to bullworth if you are caught truant or violating curfew.

- kids, girls and adults - there are plenty of girls and kids around campus, and don't have much of a plot in the story. Unlike girls in real life, just about all of the girls have a crush (which is completely unreal in real life high school) on Jimmy and will kiss him if they can (especailly after you complete all of the art classes). One warning though: the saying "you are not supposed to hit a girl" certainly applies to Jimmy's life. If Jimmy decides to be mean to the girls or hit any of them, you can be assured that authority figures will come on you right away (instant max wanted rating) and bust you if they catch you instantly.

For more about the game, you can either try out the game yourself (I posted a referral link to the game via amazon towards the beginning of this blog entry), or learn more about it at http://www.gamefaqs.com/.

Overall stuff:

Game score card from 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst game ever and 5 being the best one ever:

Game play: 4
Fun factor: 3 (can get boring to some after a while)
Difficulty: 4
Controls: 2.5 (in band class, the poor controller sensitivity can make it difficult to pass that class, especially in the later stages when you have to press both triggers at the same time
Graphics: 5 (the game environment will certainly have you feel like you are actually in Johnny's world, with full interactions, being able to explore the world that Johnny is in and all).
Replay factor: 3 (because of the big plot in the game as well as lots of extra stuff, one probably will want to play through the game a second time to see if they missed something the first time, do things differnetly, etc. Bully does have some movie-like characteristics as well, loaded with clip scenes, interactivity between Johnny and other characters at Bullworth Academy, and all).
Sounds: 3 (the main game music is repetitive and can get old after a while).
Buy or rent: you should definitely buy the game, since like just about all modern day role playing games, it will definitely take a while to get through the entire game (I am a little more than 1/2 way through the game myself to strech a point).
Overall score: 4 out of 5

Want Bully? You can get it at http://astore.amazon.com/rjvideogamer-20/detail/B000WPXQSQ. You can also get a deluxe version of the game for PS2 at http://astore.amazon.com/rjvideogamer-20/detail/B000K2DE06, and/or the Nintendo Wii version of Bully at http://astore.amazon.com/rjvideogamer-20/detail/B000WQ1UME.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Welcome to my Video Game Blog

In this blogger series, I will post reviews of games, links to hot games, faqs, etc. I hope that you enjoy it. Someday, I plan to add some web pages on gaming, but, that will come some other time. I have an Xbox 360, Playstation 2, Xbox, N64, Genesis and regular nintendo.