Kissin’ Girls, Givin’ Wedgies
At the end of the month, Grand Theft Auto IV drops. I am certain this will annihilate my spare time and life.
Until then, however, I am playing Bully: Scholarship Edition.
The game originally came out last year or so for the antiquated PS2. Since my PS2 makes unholy grinding sounds when it runs, and I’m not too hip on shelling out a c-note for such quaint technology just to play one game, I skipped it – knowing, in my heart of hearts, that Rockstar Games would not abandon me and would, in fact, produce a version of the game for the 360.
My faith was solid.
A one line sum-up: Bully is effectively a Grand Theft Auto game where, instead of killing cops, banging hookers, selling drugs, and stealing cars, you give little kids wedgies, collect comic books, pull fire alarms, and take classes.
That may not sound like fun (especially the “taking classes” part), but it is.
In fact, it’s insanely fun.
First, all the classes are minigames. For example, in English class, you play this version of Text Twist. In Biology class, you do a bunch of dissections. Art class is this weird game like the Tron lightcycle sequence (tough to explain).
There are five levels of each class, and you can take two classes per “game day”. Unless you skip class, in which case the Prefects and/or cops may bust you for truancy. You’d think this would get old fast but it doesn’t; I actually *want* to go to the classes because they’re fun.
There are storyline missions, and they all involve things that fifteen year old kids deal with at high school. Fighting (or running from) bullies. Shoving kids into lockers. Flirting with girls (or guys, for that matter – it’s open). Going on dates to the carnival. Egging houses. Making stink bombs. Most of them are variants of the standard FedEx, Survive, Travel, or KillAll mission types, but they’re all very clever.
There are tons of side missions: paper routes, grass cutting, bike races, boxing. Playing video games, even. It’s seriously huge.
The depth of the cleverosity that the developers came up with is astounding. The first night, I literally spent an hour tossing marbles on the floors to watch kids fall down on them – until I got the idea to seed my dorm hallways with marbles, and then pull the fire alarm. POW! Kids flying everywhere. It was awesome.
As standard, you start with a small sand box (just the school grounds) and then it opens up. I’ve got the entire thing opened now, and I’ve maybe explored 10% of it. Maybe.
The game world progresses in time with each story, and (get this) the weather changes. People start wearing cold-weather clothes and there’s snow on the ground (which sucks when you’re trying to ride a bike or your skateboard).
The weapons. . . oh man. Currently, in my arsenal, I have: eggs, a slingshot, stink bombs, itching powder, firecrackers, and a *bottle rocket launcher*.
The classes you pass improve your weapons: take enough chemistry classes and you can make your own stink bombs and itching powder. Learn new wrestling moves in gym class (or, if you’re playing dodgeball, learn to aim better). Better at English? Great: you can deliver better taunts, or apologize to prefects (and thus get off the hook for dropping a firecracker into the toilet).
The game feels like Rockstar stepped up to the challenge of making a “teen” version of Grand Theft Auto. And it works.
The controls seemed a little weird at first. I was used to the GTA camera style, where the right thumbstick controlled camera direction and the left your movement and they operated independently. At first it was goofy, but then I realized that they had smartened the camera up a lot and I was actually screwing myself by moving the camera. That’s not really a ding on the game but more me being stupid.
I have a “completion” score of about 30% right now, which, in these games, is a lot. But I’m far from finished, and I can’t see it getting boring any time soon. Usually, with a game like this, there comes a point where one “enemy group” just hates you so much that you can’t go into parts of the map without dealing with constant combat. However, the game solves this: beat up enough of the preppies, and they respect/fear you, and leave you alone.
I’m enjoying the hell out of it. I’m going to recommend it to Maynard for his kids, who can’t really play GTA games.
And no, as far as I can tell, there isn’t a “Columbine” simulator.