Canis Canem Edit(Rockstar)

one of the most responsible gaming simulations I've ever played

Game Review by Declan Dineen | 12 Dec 2006
Choices and exploration. This is what GTA did so well; this is why Rockstar are the gaming behemoths they are today. Do I want to continue with this mission, or will I go and find a unique jump, or maybe do some taxi missions, or maybe just cruise the streets and listen to the radio? GTA offered almost limitless exploration and choice. In scaling down the size of the map from the regional sprawl of San Andreas to the sleepy town and public school of Bullworth Academy, Rockstar have limited your exploration somewhat. However, in doing so they've ramped up your choices by cramming as much detail into the characters and environment as possible. Every NPC in the game is unique, and as the missions progress, you'll get to know most of the characters pretty well. This means that although small, the world is just crammed with personality. This has allowed the introduction of a new game mechanicism: social interaction. Once locked onto an opponent, you're always given a choice. You can bully them, shout an insult, give them a Chinese burn or a wedgie... but you can also give them praise, give them a gift, even a little kiss. This isn't just exclusive to girls either. Should someone try and bully you, you don't have to simply fight back, you can talk your way out of it, apologise, and leave to fight another day.

Each one of the classes you can take helps bolster your skills, making your transition through the world simpler. Do well in English and you can talk your way out of more situations; do better in shop, you get better bikes. Despite all the knee jerk reactions to the title and the premise, these two features alone make Bully one of the most responsible gaming simulations I've ever played. Every action has a consequence. Mischeif is tolerated, but serious trouble is punished, and since everyone is so unique, every action you take has some emotional weight behind it. It's not perfect though: despite your actions about the school, your allegiance to the different cliques is dictated largely by the missions as opposed to how you treat them in down time, and even though the option for peace is there, almost every part of the game is solved by fighting.

It's a start though, and for that, the game deserves to played for what it is: a glorious experiment in next generation game play, where everything has a consequence, and the world really, truly feels alive.
Release Date: Out now for PS2.