It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Rockstar released the original Bully, which like many of Rockstar’s titles, was released amidst a storm of media controversy. Rockstar is the kind of company that likes to push the envelope, and they have done that time and time again over the years. Bully was originally released a back in 2006, and it received a lot of praise throughout the industry. Now a few years later we have Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360, which hopes to expand the original game to an even more interesting game. How does Rockstar do on the second Bully attempt? Read our full review to find out!
Never heard of Bully? Well then, let me first get you up to date with what this game is all about. You play as Jimmy, an outspoken youngster who hasn’t spent a whole lot of time in any one particular school. So of course Jimmy can be considered a bit of a trouble maker, and so you get to take the role of Jimmy who now attends Bullworth Academy and it is your job to get him through it. This game has been compared a lot to the Grand Theft Auto franchise in the sandbox style approach that Bully does as well.
This however is not the same sort of GTA experience that you may be familiar with. This is more of a toned down version that doesn’t promote the use of violence but still allows it. The violence in this game is thrown down a couple of notches as well, with there being no true weapons outside of a slingshot, most of the things done in the game are either with your bare fist or pulling off some sort of prank.
Rockstar takes a slam on society as well with this game, as with every mission you complete in the game your relationship with varying cliques then changes. The game takes no shy approach in looking at the classes in our society and the effects of it. It’s interesting to see also the interactions between your character Jimmy and the rest of the school is a big part of the game and this interaction works quite well.
As you might imagine going to class is a part of Bully, however not mandatory. The developers do make it worth your while to give you extra bonuses for going, but the developers left it totally up to the player as to whether or not you want to go to class. If you decide not to go to class then you’re going to find that you can then just go from mission to mission and is a quicker route to getting through the game.
One thing I warned of in my first review of Bully for the Playstation 2, and I will warn of now, is that this is a game with a slow start. The first mission keeps you locked up in the confines of the school, and it feels a bit dull. But similar to the original game you are then opened up to the entire city after this first introductory portion of the game, and that is where the fun really begins.
The game, once opened up, is fantastic, and it shows how great Rockstar is at making Sandbox style games. There is so much content in the game, and although most of it is from the original game it was translated beautifully to the Xbox 360. The game itself works on a lot of levels, the missions are short and sweet, and there is just a ton of content outside of the main missions. The new content isn’t necessarily good enough to make anyone want to come back after playing the PS2 version, but since many did miss the original, the gameplay here is great for someone not already familiar with the series.
Visually the game has improved quite a bit from the PS2 version, but it still left a lot of room for improvement. The character models to me were improved but they still felt a bit sharp and not necessarily as smooth as they should have been. The environments have been updated as well, with a lot more detail and vibrant colors. But compared to other Xbox 360 titles, it feel pretty average. The frame rate does drop on occasion as well, but does not detract from the gameplay.
Even though the game is less violent, less provocative than any Grand Theft Auto game, it remains just as fun. The developers, as I mentioned in my review of the PS2 version, have nailed the ability to mix up the gameplay in a way of making sure that you’re never sick of doing the same thing over and over again. Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360 stays consistent throughout the experience, and if you can just get past the introduction period of the game, it rewards you with a plethora of great, enjoyable content.
Although I would not recommend this version if you have already played the original for the Playstation 2, this is still a fantastic game for those who have not played it, and own an Xbox 360. If you’re a fan of GTA, then Bully: Scholarship Edition is a game that you should at least check and give a chance, it will surprise you.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.