Bully: Scholarship Edition Hands On

We were given a hands on revision class in Rockstar's remixed juvenile adventure game, and the results look promising.

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Scholarship Edition is somewhat of a director's cut for Bully, the game released as Canis Canem Edit in Europe in 2006. The new version keeps the soul of the original PlayStation 2 game and offers a next-generation polish to its body while also adding new graphics, extra solo missions, and multiplayer games.

Improved graphics in the Xbox 360 version add a new coat of paint to Bully.

As we saw in our previous visit to Rockstar London's offices, Scholarship Edition--coming to the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii in March--offers new control mechanics with the Wii Remote as well as improved visuals, particularly on the Xbox 360 version. In addition to eight new single-player missions, four new multiplayer "classes" (minigames) have been added: music, maths, biology, and geography.

You'll fill the shoes of Jimmy Hopkins, a teen delinquent with a troubled past who is dumped at the gates of the prestigious Bullworth Academy boarding school by his mother, who abandons him to leave on her latest honeymoon. Jimmy enrols at Bullworth out of necessity: He's been kicked out of a string of schools, and Bullworth is the only one willing--or stupid enough--to admit him.

We tried the four new multiplayer classes and found them to be great additions to the game, although multiplayer is still a purely offline affair for both consoles. The music class follows a method similar to other rhythm games and reminded us of the minigame in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in which you have to pump your car's hydraulics to the beat. Duking it out as Jimmy or Gary, we took our controller, which represented onscreen maracas, and had to follow along with the dismal-sounding school band. You'll need to get the timing right by matching a series of vertically scrolling notes that pass through a reticule much in the same manner as Guitar Hero. It takes a bit of practice to master, but getting the timing spot-on, or pulling off a string of correct notes, rewards you with a higher score.

The maths class takes a page out of Nintendo's Brain Training; puzzles range from simple arithmetic to questions with dimensions, weight, and more, and the multiple-choice answers are chosen using the controller. Biology, which we saw previously, involves the dissection of a particular animal by using a magnifying glass, scalpel, forceps, and pins. We attempted to dissect a rat in a race against both the clock and another player. Points are awarded for speed and accuracy, so it pays to be careful rather than just hack through it at record pace.

The geography class involves placing named flags on the appropriate countries within a region. We tried our luck at the Middle East and North Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia. Even with the flags and country names as a memory jog, it was surprisingly challenging to identify some of the more far-flung countries.

After a lesson in multiplayer, we graduated to the single-player campaign. We played a mission originally from the PS2 version, Character Sheets, in which Jimmy Hopkins has to help fellow student Melvin get back stolen sheets for his favourite role-playing board game, Grottos and Gremlins. Using the skateboard, we roamed around the schoolyard until we found the culprits, indicated on the map, and proceeded to teach them a lesson in schoolyard bullying.

Rockstar then showed us a new mission, Rudy the Red Nosed Santa, located in downtown Bullworth and starring a hilarious new character: Rudy, the town's drunken Santa. It seems Rudy's winter wonderland is lacking some wonder, and it's up to Jimmy to help spice things up with some ornaments, which are located around town in trash cans. On your journey you'll be assaulted by elves and their pet bulldog--presumably sent from a competing Santa--which you'll need to fend off. If you get close enough to an elf, you can pick him up and dump him in a trash can.

It's not over when you bring the ornaments back to Rudy. You'll need to be his photographer as he sits for some happy holiday snaps with the kiddies. Using the camera, you'll need to take four "happy" photos, which are harder to take than it sounds due to the disobedient brats Rudy meets, as well as his drunken demeanour and alcohol-drenched odour.

Although the 360 controller was fine most of the time, it felt a bit clunky for minigames in comparison to the Wii Remote. It's not a bad experience, but it certainly felt more intuitive and natural with the remote, especially when trying to delicately dissect critters or "grabbing" flags in geography.

Although Jimmy may have a new lease on life thanks to the Xbox 360, he'll still have the same problems.

What we saw appeared to be a near-final build, and the graphics looked much improved on the Xbox 360, especially on a 65-inch display. Rockstar said the mechanics on the Xbox 360 are much the same as in the PS2 version. Achievement points were yet to be finalised.

Rockstar said that the new version will take more than 30 hours to complete, including side quests, attending classes at Bullworth Academy, and other amusements spread around the world, such as arcade games. With new graphics, music, background dialogue, missions, and multiplayer games, Bully: Scholarship Edition is likely to appeal to old and new players alike. It is current scheduled for a European release date of March 7.

Discussion

32 comments
thenephariouson
thenephariouson

OMG, the first thing that went through my mind when i saw this was 'School Daze' on my ZX Spectrum (remember that?)

nick_spot
nick_spot

what fresh, unique, fun game this will be

omegakie
omegakie

So getting this played ps2 version loved it and now on 360 thanks rockstar

sirpyke29
sirpyke29

Phenomenal game on PS2 seeing as I have the wii and 360 it will be hard to figure out which one i should get..better graphics or interesting gameplay..Too broke to get both :D

gazacf1
gazacf1

I played the 1st game and it was great I can't wait for the new and updated version.

69ANT69
69ANT69

awesome game got the original and loved it, can't wait for the updated version

zeecorner
zeecorner

haha, never played this game, but you know achievements will be hilarious!

DementedOutkast
DementedOutkast

looks good played the ps2 version that was ok hope they sorted out the bugs on this one

sivasiva
sivasiva

Looks nice. genre suits my style.

kretsdaddy
kretsdaddy

Maybe Luke Anderson should have 'enroled' in school before he tried to become a writer.

Zee666
Zee666

Looks alright, i'm just glad it's bully now instead of canis canem edit

deannatrois
deannatrois

this lokes good i will get this for my xbox 360 ELITE

mark_D12
mark_D12

looking forword to getting this the ps2 version was great

ZhugeMarc
ZhugeMarc

Looks fun; definitely picking this one up.

dn3datomiced
dn3datomiced

Ah. I'm so glad they're bringing it to 360. I didn't have my PS2 for long, and I regretted it for a few games. Bully was one of them.

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

The original PS2 game was great. This is something a bit different and more coordinated with controls on the Wii. Thus, the question is, would I want to buy the same game?

Mike0193
Mike0193

i never played the first, and was always wanting to try it. though i thought this one would be a second game of it, and not a improved version, i am a bit dissapointed, but i will still get this one

MikeySSH
MikeySSH

i wouldn't mind going back to playing this again

SaintRasmus
SaintRasmus

I never played the PS2 version, but i have Pre-Ord this game, because it looks really funny and its a Rockstar game.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Sweet, I am so going to get this

zeeshan810
zeeshan810

i have this game in ps2 and finished it this is a best game for bullies 10 out of 10

MetalTheKid
MetalTheKid

Never played this game but have heard about it from a friend, so I'm buying this one for 360.

NeleNel
NeleNel

Glad to see this has promise on the 360. Wonder if the Wii will get any other special treatment?

gifteddie
gifteddie

I loved it on ps2 and I'll probably get it again on 360

DocGonzo1971
DocGonzo1971

Can't wait for this since I never got a chance to finish playing the PS2 version.

bcooper565656
bcooper565656

i liked first lets see if they can make nextgen good.

dryden555
dryden555

nice but the price will go down fast on this one -- wait a few months

jimmyand360
jimmyand360

Looking forward to this one. Was going to get it for the PS2 last year. So glad I waited. I get to boost my gamerscore and new content as well!!

NicotineKid
NicotineKid

This will be a great game until I get my hands on gta IV. :)