Sunday, 30 August 2009

Lost Gamespot Review: Bully (Canis Canem Edit)

This got pulled from Gamespot because (apparently) it was seen as "Trolling". I had to look that up at the time. Despite the fact I am a big fan of both Charlie Brooker and Yahtzee, I had not come across that term before. Well, we live and learn.
Here is what I wanted to write, although this has been reconstructed from memory, so may not be exactly the same:

Summary: Bully is a vacuous borefest that forces you to relive the choices of the game designers in their days at boarding school to justify their sordid actions.

Bully is (or was at the time of writing) the latest installment from Rockstar, the company behind Grand Theft Auto. The game's design is similar to that of any of the latest (3D) GTAs: You control a character who can take a number of missions from various characters. You start as a young boy, roughly in the middle of Secondary School, in Bullsworth academy. You are befriended by another boy who convinces you to do a number of tasks to get you noticed around the school, ultimately to gain the respect of both teachers and pupils. Your aim is to become the head Bully at the school. The plots of GTA are usually intricate and convoluted, following the main character through many twists and turns, betrayals and uneasy alliances. Bully's plot was so paper thin, it was obvious from the first 5 minutes that this "ally" of yours was going to make you do many things at the start of the game, and about half way through turn on you, becoming the final enemy. One of the missions that tipped me off was where you have to locate this homeless man who is living on the school grounds in order to beat him up. I appreciate the morality of many of Rockstar's games is poor at best, but something about this did not sit well with me. You end up not hitting him, and ignoring the suggestion of your friend, but honestly I would have preferred to make that decision for myself, rather than take some back seat in the event. It made me feel dirty, like I was watching some cut price stripper pretending to be underage. I have no qualms about selling drugs to kids in ice-cream trucks, murdering prostitutes for the money or kidnapping homosexuals clinging to the back of mopeds, but this is just wrong. If I am going to be bad, let me be bad! I want the choice, I want the control, and ultimately I want the responsibility. I didn't like the half-hearted morality the game tried to force at you, like only giving punishment (from the monitors) for hitting a child younger than you, or striking a girl. And this game (Canis Canem Edit) was supposed to be the "cleaner" version. I hate to think what the eventual re-release in the form of Bully was like - perhaps you are supposed to be seduced by the school nurse? Or even the Headmaster? There were some clear overtones of that in the few hours I played of it.

In all honesty, I don't blame people for thinking (misguidedly) that this was a good game, in any of its forms. It was new, and dangerous, particualrly when it was up for being banned. But where GTA was engaging, Bully was insipid, spoon feeding you moral dilemmas. GTA gives you sympathetic characters, and Bully gave you some superficial twerp trying to get even. When you ignore the hype and the "broken boundaries", Bully isn't a good game, it is a washed out sensationalist piece of crap, with poor game design, non-existent plot and terrible graphics. If you want to be bad, then be a man and make the choice. Don't just tag along for the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Lol, cannot believe this review got taken down from gamespot. From what I see you followed their tos, you were just expressing their opinion. Gamespot seems to run things like a communist government sometimes.

    But yea, I agree with you on this game. I am always a little suprised at how much people love this game. It is basically a watered-down high school version of gta. The whole time I was playing it I was kind of bored. Sure, there were some funny moments and interesting parts to the gameplay, but overall it felt like I was just playing a sub par gta clone.