Underrated Games: Canis Canem Edit (AKA Bully)

Sure, we all know that Rockstar are most famous for pumping out quick-fire games that are nothing short of controversial and annoy the hell out of stupid parents who think that video games are going to turn their 12 year old into a mass murderer, and yes, Bully for the PlayStation 2 (or Canis Canem Edit here in the UK, although we tend to just call it Bully here too because it is easier and is kind of an endearing nickname) did receive its fair share of controversy on release. It got banned in Brazil, was nearly banned here in the UK and some pansy tried to get it banned in Florida. A lot of parents and educators didn't like the idea of a game that glorified bullying, but actually if you look a little deeper, while Bully does allow you to bully weaker characters, the game's story mainly focuses around an individual starting out at the bottom of a school's social hierarchy (every school has one) and rising to the top, so actually, the game kind of focuses on bullying the bullies. An 'anti-bully' if you will. Kind of like this video:

So the game focuses around some kid called Jimmy Hopkins (who shares an astounding resemblance to Wayne Rooney) who is a bit of a tearaway and has has been expelled from every school he has attended. The opening cutscene shows him being dropped off at Bullworth Academy, a boarding school, by his neglectful mother and stepfather who he doesn't like at all.

When you first arrive at Bullsworth, everyone is out to batter you except for 'normal' kids and the nerds, who for most of the game, actually help you out and respect you, even if you wedgie them and the like. There are different social groups that you will have to conquer before you become the king of the school, and these are the Preppies, Greasers, Jocks, Townies and Bullies. Each group have different spots at which they hang out, and earlier in the game, are best avoided while your skill levels are low. As the game progresses and you conquer each of these factions, they respect you and will help you out and even defend you from others who attack you.

The game immerses you in its environments and storyline incredibly well. The graphics were not particularly up to scratch for a game of its time, but this game does a pretty decent job at attention to detail and its a highly explorable map (which isn't as huge as a map from Vice City, but it sure does the trick) sure make up for any graphical disadvantages (although the graphics were updated in the 'Scholarship Edition' released on the Xbox 360). Every character in the game has a name and a personality that will make sure you remember each of them by name. Although many people may frown, to me, this game seems like a weird tribute from Rockstar to games like Shenmue, with its day-night cycles, changing weather, and non-playable characters going about their daily routines. That's the Shenmue part, now just add a bit of violence and swearing and you've got all the Rockstar bits.

The music of the game is fantastic. It isn't the sort of music you download the soundtrack for, but it certainly suits the game well and provides your ears with pleasing melodies while you focus more of your attention on the world itself.

Despite it's lack of multiplayer, Bully is still a game that is hilarious to play with friends in company, and with this particular game, a spot of 'winner stays on' never goes a miss. Try having a competition to see who can pull off the near impossible feat of KO'ing the irritating do-gooder prefects (these guys function as police in your school and will put you in detention, while policemen control the law outside of school). See how many you can knock out in a row or try sneaking into the girl's dormitory and get your ass chased by some old shouty lady who never hesitates to screech the word 'pervert' at you. Bully shares the same trait as its big brother GTA (GTA is the big brother because it is aimed more at an adult audience) for being hilarious at the most random moments, mostly stemming from just messing around in the game's town or around the school.

Rockstar mentioned that they may start working on a sequel to Bully after they've released Max Payne 3. Well, Max Payne 3 has been released, so let's hope a sequel to Bully comes soon! The game wasn't exactly underrated on release, but with the jump into the next generation, it has a little more than slightly faded into obscurity. Let's hope a sequel helps to remind past players and teach new players why someone like me fell in love with this brilliant game in the first place!

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