Strange Brouhaha

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rockstar's "Bully"

Some psycho in Florida tried to claim that Rockstar's latest game, "Bully," was going to result in a wave of Columbines the likes of which the world had never seen, and that the game was going to cause full-scale social collapse; when said nutjob filed suit, he claimed that the judge (who ruled against him) had been duped by Rockstar's lies, and that the judge hadn't seen the whole game because Rockstar was hiding parts of it.

On the other side of the issue, apologists for the game claim that it's all harmless fun, that you're in fact trying to stop people from being bullies, and that the violence wasn't an integral part of the game. (I wish I had sources for that.)

Well, the lunatic was obviously wrong, as society hasn't collapsed yet (despite The Decider's best efforts), and the apologists are wrong, too. "Bully" was one of the games I played (and finished) over the last few weeks. Herewith, my thoughts.

As a game, this really isn't Rockstar's best effort. It's fun, and it's a break from the ultra-mayhem of a GTA: San Andreas (also by R*), but it's such a simple game that finishing it almost becomes a chore: hold down L1 and press square, repeat until badguy falls down. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, but even something as small as riding a bicycle--which was one of the amazing highlights of GTA:SA, I kid you not--just isn't quite right. When you break it down, the missions you go on are almost all of the "go here and punch someone" variety.

The storyline is fairly straightforward: as Jimmy Hopkins, you need to control Bullworth Academy, an exclusive prep school, by beating up all of the leaders of the school's clicques. Along the way, you make An Enemy, who you then must defeat in the endgame to truly conquer the school. While the game does pay lipservice to the "I'm trying to stop the bullying!" tag, it mostly seems like a tacked-on afterthought. (And by the way, contrast this with the convoluted crap from "Ace Combat". Sheesh.)

"Bully" deserved none of the controversy it generated. Conversely, it really didn't deserve the praise it got, either. It's not a bad game, really, but held up against Rockstar's other efforts, it probably won't stand the test of time.


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