XBOX PREVIEW: BULLY

Shaved head? Check. Billy Idol-esque lip curl/snarl? Check. Parental neglect? Check. Bad attitude? Double check. Sounds like a checklist for that dude who presented you with that prostate intruding atomic wedgie on the last day of school as your "going away" present.

Rockstar will soon introduce the world to Jimmy Hopkins, a 15-year-old bad ass with a lousy mother who leaves Jimmy at Bullworth Academy while continuing on her way to celebrate her 5th honeymoon. This is Jimmy's last chance to get it together after having been tossed out of every other prep school around. But it's not his fault....it's lousy parenting! Tell that to the poor kid who just received a head dunking in the public washroom from one pissed off Jimbo.

Rockstar has always been known for its off-kilter games turned cultural phenomenons (Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Midnight Club) and we expect Bully to stand proudly beside its gaming brethren and continue the legacy Rockstar has weaved over the last few years. Bully will not feature the over the top violence of Manhunt, car counter culture of Midnight Club nor the hidden hardcore activities of San Andreas, but it will delight throngs of nerds and weaker thans, who have been on the receiving end of school beatings since they entered Kindergarten. In that respect, Bully is the perfect premise for a videogame and it's surprising its taken a developer this long to realize it.

As mentioned, Jimmy won't be running around the schoolgrounds with an AK-47, but he will be able to administer all kinds of humiliating monkey shines to those around him who just happen to be defenseless and weak. Such is the nature of the bully. If bullies tackled kids tougher and stronger than them, they wouldn't be labelled bullies, they'd be called "the kids who got the crap kicked out of them". Most bullies don't even know how to fight. They often don't have to. They let their reputation do the dirty work for them - like Batman. Call a bully's bluff and you'll often see him quake in his boots. I was told this as a young boy who had bully troubles at school and what do you know? It was true. Mike, was the very large school bully at my school. He used to give me and the other small kids "atomic drops" which consisted of him picking up a body and slamming it down hard onto his knee. After a few of these I had had enough - even though Mike towered at least a solid 12 inches above me and outweighed me by 80 lbs. He grabbed me one day and I said to him "You touch me again, and I'm going to kill you. If you want to fight, let's fight." There is no way I could have beaten him in a fight, but I didn't have to. Mike didn't know how to fight. And the thought of being hurt, even by a kid as small as I was, terrified him. From that day on Big Mike became my friend and he stopped bullying people. If I hadn't experienced it firsthand, I would have never believed it. But it makes sense if you think about it. If you've never seen a bully in a fight, there is probably a good reason for that.

Just in case the particular bully in your life happens to know how to fight, a purchase of Bully the videogame might be in order. It will allow you take out all of your pent up aggression on defenseless non-player characters peppered liberally around Bullworth Academy. Use your slingshot to cause havoc from afar (Jimmy's ranged weapon of choice) or simply beat them down with your fists. Rockstar Vancouver also suggests that Bully will feature a few mini-games such as hacky sack, dodgeball and perhaps even rugby or football.

Pink Floyd may have sang "We don't need no education" which is ironic considering their poor use of grammar (yes, I understand that it was supposed to be that way!) but if Rockstar Vancouver has their way, gamers of all ages will be lining up to get into the Bullworth Academy later this year. Bully promises to be "one small smack for nerds, one giant wedgie for nerdkind."

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System: Xbox, PS2
Dev: Rockstar Vancouver
Pub: Rockstar
Release: Falll 2005
Players: 1
Preview by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
NA
GRAPHICS
NA
CONTROL
NA
MUSIC/FX
NA
VALUE
NA