Bully: Scholarship Edition
We hand Rockstar its report card.
Xbox 360, Wii
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By Adam Doree
Bully: Scholarship Edition is an enhanced version of Bully, a game we already rated highly on PS2 in 2006, that steers clear of messing with the superb existing story and instead adds new missions, new classes, new music and improved visuals. The overall content is the same on both Xbox 360 and Wii, though one version looks slightly better than the other which offers some nice control quirks.
Set over the course of a school year, Bully is the story of hard-done-by problem kid Jimmy. Coming from a broken family, and with his mother heading off on her umpteenth honeymoon, Jimmy has been expelled from every other school in the area, and Bullworth Academy is the only place that will take him. He has to find his position in this hard school's way of life, integrating with the other students, cliques and teachers.
As you might expect with the Xbox 360 version, there's a noticeable improvement over the PS2 and Wii versions, with better definition, shadows and lighting effects. There's more detail to the characters and things are better textured, plus you'll notice lots of subtle visual details that weren't there before. However, while Bully on Xbox 360 looks good, it's worlds apart from what you would expect from the more advanced visuals in a game like Grand Theft Auto IV. But that's to be expected from a game whose routes are from an older machine.
The overall ease of controlling Jimmy is not quite as refined as you would find in some more modern games, with combat in particularly tight corners proving tricky, and manoeuvrability when there are a lot of people around sometimes feeling a little problematic. These are minor gripes however, and overall, there are no real complains about the way the game controls.
Since it's school, you have to go to your lessons, but not to worry as in Bully, they're basically mini-games and a lot of fun. In Scholarship Edition there are four new classes - maths, music, biology and geography - and you can now challenge your friends in the multiplayer mode.
These two-player sections work particularly well on the Wii: we're taken to biology class, where it's about how fast and how accurately you do the dissection of a creature using the Wii remote to carefully make incisions, examine parts of the insides more closely, forceps to remove parts and so on. This head-to-head process against the clock involves extreme concentration and often results in some photo finishes. You'll be dissecting rats, bats, frogs, pigs, fish and amusingly, even aliens.
One of my favourite mini-games is the shooting gallery, obviously using the Remote and its trigger. Most things you should shoot, some you shouldn't. More points are awarded for faster moving targets, you've got special bonus targets, and also you reload by shaking the Nunchuk. There's also Math, which is a Brain Training style test of your basic arithmetic; Music, which is basically a rhythm action affair involving shaking left and right 'maracas' to the music; Photography - basically like Where's Wally; and also a great Geography class where you have to stick the right flags onto the right states and countries on a map. Quite a few of these lessons or mini-games do genuinely benefit from the Wii controls.
The in-game controls on Wii do take a fair bit of getting used to, however. Experienced gamers who own a Wii for 'proper games' will figure everything out fairly quickly, but the broader Wii market will have a rough time controlling this at first. I could, of course, be completely inept - I guess it's just the same old argument of whatever you're most familiar with feels most comfortable. But I prefer the bulk of the game outside of lessons on the Xbox 360.