Bully: Scholarship Edition Xbox 360 review

8 March 2008
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Bully: Scholarship Edition for Xbox 360Both the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of Bully: Scholarship Edition retains the wit and deep gameplay of the in October 2006 released PS2 title Bully that sold over 1.4 million copies worldwide and now boasts additional new content.

Bully: Scholarship Edition takes place in the fictional New England boarding school of Bullworth Academy and tells the story of 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins as he experiences the highs and lows of adjusting to a new school. Capturing the hilarity and awkwardness of adolescence perfectly, Bully adds humorous tongue-in-cheek storylines and situations to the schoolyard hi-jinks, and pulls the player into its cinematic and engrossing world.

System: Xbox 360, Wii
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release dates: March 4th 2008 (USA), March 7th 2008 (EURO)
Players: single player, 2-player offline minigames
Developer: Rockstar Vancouver
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Origin: Canada

Bully: Scholarship Edition screenshot

Bully: Scholarship Edition is set in the most vile and sadistic setting yet in a Rockstar videogame: the schoolyard. Laugh and cringe as you stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks on malicious kids, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles and social hierarchy of the fictitious Bullworth Academy.

In Bully you’re free to explore the school campus and town, or to complete the main missions, since the game is a sandbox game. The game also contains minigames that are used to earn money and improve Jimmy’s abilities. As Jimmy interacts with the school’s students and teachers, as well as people from the neighboring towns, many of them will give him tasks to complete.

A form of minigames are the school classes, which are broken down into five levels of increasing difficulty. English, for example, is a word scramble minigame, and as Jimmy completes the level, he learns to apologize to bullies, deliver better taunts, apologize to prefects and finally to apologize to the police.

Jimmy has multiple school boy weapons available, like slingshots, bags of marbles, stink bombs, and later in the game, a bottle rocket launcher and a spud gun. He also has an assortment of vehicles to operate mainly bicycles with different abilities, but also a moped, a go-kart, a lawn mower, and a skateboard.

As the third person action-adventure comes to the Xbox 360, it also adds new content, next generation graphics, and two player minigames that make this title more appealing to previous Bully players and a whole new audience.

Watch the Bully: Scholarship Edition launch trailer.

So what are the main features of Bully: Scholarship Edition?

* New Content – 8 new missions, 4 new school classes (biology, music, math, and geography), hilarious new characters, added two-player mode, new unlockable items and clothing, new rewards and Gamerpoint Achievements.

* Variety – With 82 missions, 45 lessons, loads of minigames and collectibles, Bully provides over 30 hours of entertainment.

* Characters – Over 100 voiced characters to socially interact with among several social groups: jocks, nerds, preppies, greasers, teachers, townies, carnies and of course girls.

* Choice – You’re in charge. Decide whether you have a positive or negative effect when interacting or accepting missions; you can say hello to fellow classmates or deliver mean wedgies.

* Use of next gen-graphical techniques including high resolution textures and dynamic lighting and shadow system.

* Faster frame speed makes the game smoother and more responsive.

* Recreated and updated over 3000 textures and character models by hand to bring up to next gen standards.

* Improved full screen effects, including dynamic glow FX, improved depth of field, and heat and fire FX.

* Textures uprezzed by 4x over the original Bully for PS2.

* More pedestrians and vehicles are able to load at once which improves the visual variety of the game.

* Minigames, including classes are easily accessible through the menu system.

Watch the Bully: Scholarship Edition “lover or fighter?” gameplay footage.

Now let’s see how much fun Bully: Scholarship Edition is on a scale from 1 to 10?

FUN FACTOR – 8.5
Bully is not a game that aims to simulate bullying. The main character Jimmy can choose to defend others from bullies as much as be a bully himself. The actual in-game goal is trying to end bullying at the Bullworth Academy! If anything it shows how damaging bullying can be, which is a valuable lesson to teach anyone. That’s why picking on female characters or smaller children is an extreme transgression within the game’s internal rules with immediate punishments.

With that out of the way, the sandbox nature of Bully sort of makes it resemble Grand Theft Auto in high school, and Bully will definitely tide you over until Grand Theft Auto 4 arrives next month. Bully is turned into a worthwhile action-adventure game with a dark comedic spin, thanks to the great exaggerated story it tells via over 100 unique characters, as you play through the levels. Bully is a unique experience to say the least, put your preconceptions aside and give this great game a try, it delivers on the fun factor.

Graphics – 7.0
While the character models and animations look smoother than the PS2 version, they are obviously more angular than smooth, but an hour into the game you’re pulled into the story to a degree where you won’t care about the cartoon-ified graphics because they do their job. While that may be the case, for some reason the engine can’t manage all the on-screen visuals properly and delivers a struggling framerate, not to mention every environment has to be loaded, which usually takes longer than you want it to. Don’t judge it too quickly on looks alone though, because despite those flaws, what’s presented to you is still an atmospheric feeling game.

Audio – 9.0
The first thing you’ll notice at the start of the game in the first cutscene is the Harry Potter fanfare music, the soundtracks in the cutscenes and in-game is amazing and never tires, especially in Dolby surround sound. There’s also fantastic voice acting throughout the game, you can really tell Rockstar put a lot of care and effort in the smart and funny script, and there are over 100 unique characters voicing that script!

Ingenuity – 8.5
The gameplay has great controls, you’ll get used to the controls in half an hour or so and you’ll be off exploring the school from there on out. What is an issue is that there are lots of load times, and you’ll probably see some fluctuations in the framerate, but Bully is worth those inconveniences because it does everything else so great. Not only are all of the game’s characters unique and have their own personalities to a certain degree, they are also doing their own thing separate from your story, as is made evident by seeing other kids being busted by the prefects rather than them only coming after you. There’s lots of ingenuity like that put into the gameplay and it helps make you feel part of a believable school.

Replay Value – 8.0
Expect to play through Bully’s main missions in under 15 hours. But if you enjoy the game enough to look around everywhere and end up doing more classes, taking more errands, and going after all the extras, then you’ll be able to play the game for over 20 hours. The 10 two-player offline minigames are a fun distraction, but no more. If you’re getting the Xbox 360 version of Bully: Scholarship Edition, wait a week for the patch, since some older consoles cause the game to freeze up at the moment.

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About the author

Ferry Groenendijk By Ferry Groenendijk: He is the founder and editor of Video Games Blogger. He loved gaming from the moment he got a Nintendo with Super Mario Bros. on his 8th birthday. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and at Google+.


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