[Review] Bully (Xbox 360): I’m a Failure at Being Bad

Ever want to be reminded of when you were a flunkie in school, were beat up on and could never get ahead? Play Bully for the Xbox 360, and have those memories come flooding back.

Bully Cover

Jimmy Hopkins is a troubled kid, always making waves wherever he goes. He has recently been dropped off at the Bullworth Academy, a private co-ed boarding school to get straightened out. As it turns out, he encounters bullies all around – boys…girls…Jimmy navigates through school, skipping class, running away from prefects, defending himself and running errands for cash. The goal is for Jimmy to climb his way above the social strata to reign supreme. I don’t think he had a prayer with me at the helm…

bully-a

The Good: Great graphics, great sense of humour.

The Bad: Some of the missions don’t even give you a chance, nor enough time to complete.

Bully is what is considered a sandbox game, meaning, open world; you are free to take Jimmy anywhere you want on the Bullworth campus, any time. It isn’t without consequences, however. You do need to manage Jimmy’s time, and decide if today is the day you take Jimmy to music class or if he is going to break into the lead cheerleader’s locker to steal a notebook for another classmate without getting caught. You are given a clock, and the expectation from the school is that Jimmy will  go to two classes a day – morning and afternoon – and do this without breaking into a fight. Jimmy’s reputation precedes him however, as Bullworth’s pack of bullies make it their mission to push him around whenever he’s in their sights. Jimmy then has a choice – to plead for peace, or make them a knuckle sandwich.

Bullworth_Academy_In-Game

Jimmy also has a true a-hole for a friend, Gary, who goads Jimmy whenever given the chance. Gary’s stake in this is his hope that he becomes the King of the Hill. Jimmy plays it cool that he isn’t interested in that at all. Instead, he completes missions for nerds, beats up bullies and generally tries to dodge the long arm of the Principal’s office.

Caught by a prefect

Caught by a prefect

Having Jimmy complete class assignments is what will allow you to advance in the game. Music, Art, Chemistry, English and Biology are on the table. Each class, you are made to complete a task in a 3 minute period. Some of the tasks are fun while others don’t seem to give you enough time to complete them. In Biology class for example, Jimmy (you) is made to dissect a frog in under three minutes – pinning, cutting, and removing a heart, stomach and intestines. He/I failed this task half a dozen times. Meanwhile, like in my real life, Jimmy excelled in Art, which in Bully was a simple game reminiscent of Qix.

I tried repeatedly in the first chapter to complete missions Jimmy was made to do, and with all the effort, Jimmy/I would still flunk out. So this meant he had to keep repeating these tasks…and keep flunking – very frustrating. The failing grade was for both classroom assignments and missions he was given outside of class that very often saw him in trouble for skipping or for fist-fighting. Those two elements –  skipping and fighting – are very much against my nature and I had a hard time participating in those activities…initially, at least…

When I first started playing the game, I made Jimmy quite the model student. He went to class like a good boy and pleaded for peace from his bullies. By the time I was ready to drop the game however, I started saying not-so-nice words…My mind-set degenerated from nice to what Jimmy could get away with; I made him play hooky every chance he got, and not only was he beating up on bullies, he was drop-kicking the prefects. I didn’t see any improvement in terms of his social status, so I decided to make him live up to the name of the game. Why not; the little dude was failing anyway. Let’s see what this game will do to him.

4

As it turns out in the first chapter, Jimmy never really gets into too much trouble for his behaviour. He had run-ins with the principal who made him mow the lawn a couple of times, but nothing life-altering. But, one constant – he would fail. Always. And it was at this point I said to myself in true Jimmy Hopkins fashion: “Ta’ hell with this game!”

I tried Bully once before back in 2010. The hubs was trying to get me involved in playing games at that point and this one seemed interesting enough. At that time I wound up abandoning the game. Recently, I figured my gaming tastes would have matured, thus the reason to try Bully again. My save point from 4/5/10, was at 4.3% complete. When I fired up the game this time I thought, “Gee. I didn’t make it that far…let’s try this again.”

Well, folks, I am here to tell you, I think I have a little perspective on why I dropped this in 2010, because it’s the same reason I am dropping it today. My conclusion: I don’t think I like sandbox games, or at least I don’t like this one. Similar to 2010, I only completed 4.65% of this game. That might seem very little, and it is, except I spent a whopping 5 hours on that teeny portion, and I had enough. Really, I don’t think anything is wrong with Bully other than Bully and I are not a match made in heaven.

6.5/10

Bully (Xbox 360)
Developer: Rockstar Games
Released: 2006

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22 comments

        1. I’ll tell you what; my experience in h.s. was better than my experience in p.s., but you could not ask me to go back – no way. My h.s. reunion is July 12, and I won’t be going. Best to leave them old bones buried. That’s just me, of course.

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          1. I would go back if I had the chance, but I would love to say to one or two, “You were a real dick to me in school, do you remember that?” I’m thinking of one or two people.

            There’s one kid, who I was “friends” with. He started picking on me in grade 7-8 and once I fought back on him. So he told his mom. Who got the school involved and called my mom. My mom knew what was going on — she didn’t put up with that.

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          2. Another kid, in grade 8, teamed up with me to be his lab partner in science class. I asked him straight up “why”? because we weren’t friends. He answered “because I think you’re cool” and I bought it.

            I did all the work, he did none, and I was pissed. I made sure I didn’t give him any credit in the project.

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            1. Oh, that one is classic – happened to me. Grade 9 English I had a presentation to do with 4 other people about symbolism in “the Pearl”. I did all my work, they did none. One of the worst presentations ever. I got a 75% – they failed.
              Another one – I did all the work, and my partner had some lame excuse about not being available to talk on the phone – so she couldn’t do any work. I started to become more shrewd with my partners.

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            2. I sure do hear that.

              Highschool was much better. But I probably faded into the background there. There were a couple bullies but they dropped out. That was the great thing about highschool. Eventually the bullies dropped out.

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            3. I went to a high school with elitist ties. By the time I was in grade 10, the school no longer offered basic level – only advanced and general. The basic level was shipped to another school, and many of the “trouble” kids went with it. Thankfully, I didn’t get a lot of bullying, or at least my situation got much better in h.s. In p.s., I had rocks thrown at me. yeah.

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            4. HAPPY CANADA DAY.

              Sorry to hear about the rocks. I don’t remember that ever happening to me. I do remember getting snow stuffed down my shirt in grade 8.

              In grade 8 they had to bus us all to another school downtown for wood shop. Our school didn’t have a wood shop. I was bullied so hard on that bus and wood shop that I started faking sick every Thursday to avoid it.

              Eventually I really did get sick. I spent the last couple months of grade 8 at home with Mono.

              http://mikeladano.com/2013/07/28/part-215-mono/

              I went back for the last week of school, and it was weird how all the bullies were suddenly not mean to me anymore. I was pretty frail, I was told that my appearance was actually shocking.

              I changed schools for grade 9. Fresh start. Only a couple of the bullies went to the same highschool and they dropped out.

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            5. The bullying stopped for me when in the 6th grade. I was considerably taller than everyone else thanks to a growth spurt – haha.
              I also had mono – at 19, the end of my first semester at Western. I know what that’s about…

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            6. And speaking about fading into the background!

              There was this one girl, I can’t recall her name, but she was really cute. Her boyfriend (briefly) was one of my bullies. A few years later I happened upon her on the internet (back when like 4 people were on the internet) and we started chatting. I’ll never forget when she said, “Oh my God! I don’t remember you at all!”

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            7. When I first started on FB in 2007, I would find classmates on there and try to “friend” them. They didn’t know who I was until I explained who I was. I mean, h.s. wasn’t that long ago, was it? Sigh.

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            8. And about fading into the background…yes, I made no waves. I had plenty of friends, but never truly made a meaningful impact.
              Someone had posted an old pic of me from h.s. on FB, and everyone said I was someone else. That really said to me how invisible I was. Sad really.

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