Ah March! With the coming of this month marks my second year of Tanner Reviews. I started this site two years ago to bring the most unbiased and professional movie and video game reviews that I could and I feel after two years I have and still am accomplishing that goal. I have over 300 articles written reviews and have no signs of slowing down. Over the years I have wanted to write reviews for various movies and video games, but typically have found it hard to write about older material seeing as how the point of mass interest has past and short of retrospectives it is hard to fit them in. So I decided to dedicate my Sunday review slot to reviewing a couple of older video games that I have in my collection for those nostalgic enough to read them or want to play a good game that you can get at a good rate on Steam or at GameStop, ladies and gentlemen this is Retro Video Game Month!
So the rules to Retro Video Game Month are simple. Any video game that was created during the Playstation 2/XBox generation are in the running for Retro Video Game Month. This is to showcase video games of the past for better or for worse. Other then that, they will be reviewed just like any other media I have tackled on this site. With that being said, let’s get to today’s topic… Bully. Bully is a game released in 2006 by now defunct studio Rockstar Vancouver. The branch of the popular company that brought us the Red Dead series and of course Grand Theft Auto were looking to expand their massive video game empire with a couple of new ideas and what could be more new then a game based around a pudgy degenerate white kid going to reform school? Essentially GTA but from a pissy 14 year old’s perspective, the game was a modest hit but has fallen into obscurity over the years. The reasons why, I plan to look at today.
On his first day at Bullworth Academy, delinquent Jimmy Hopkins (Gerry Rosenthal) finds himself thrust into the world of school politics. Taken under the wing by his classmate Gary Smith (Peter Vack), Jimmy finds himself constantly in battles at his expense due to the politicking of his new ‘friend’. After a battle with the school bully Russell (Cody Melton) Jimmy learns that Gary has been spreading rumors about him thus betraying their friendship. The story follows Jimmy as he interacts with various Academy groups like the Preppies and the Greasers all the while with Gary looming over Jimmy’s rise through popularity.
What more can you say about it? Bully is an excellently made video game. The graphics look good, the gameplay is fun, and the story is well written. All things considered it is one of the best made games to come out in the 2000’s. While it wallows in obscurity, its gameplay value is not one of the reasons why this is the case.
Fun Open World
In traditional Rockstar style, Bully brings this world centered around Bullworth Academy to life every time you put in the disc. There is so much to do and so many places to explore within the world. While the game can feel a little on rails with going from point to point, there is still some room for exploration. It doesn’t have as much free roam as some of Rockstar’s other titles, but it is still a fun experience none the less.
You know, it doesn’t matter what branch of Rockstar creates the game… Rockstar sure does know how to make Grand Theft Auto. I will give them that, they are damn good at it! They make great open worlds with plenty of exploration and a larger than life style of gameplay and story. But when you take these mere concepts that you do so well and merely repackage them into a game featuring an adolescent fighting his way through the inter workings of high school and nothing more… Then you have a problem.
Bully is generic through and through when it comes to a Rockstar game. It brings nothing new or creative to the table, it is merely a well made knock off of GTA. It looks good, but overall you can get the same enjoyment out of a GTA game then buying a second game on top of it.
One of the biggest questions that surrounds this game to me is why was it forgotten? It is a well made game and released by one of the biggest publishers in the industry? Why doesn’t this game have sequels, continuations, or anything to that effect? It is because it is generic.
The game is well made and has that Rockstar Studio feel, but you cannot deny when a game just have no drive or not ambition to it, it simply arrives on the doorstep like a dead duck. Bully is a forgotten title of the 2000’s and it is a shame as the game truly was a fun experience. But if history has taught us anything, it is that you need to have a lot more ambition in either the right or wrong direction to be remembered.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more from me.