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Since its release, the Nintendo Wii has been host to a wide series of re-made games designed to take advantage of its innovative and unique motion-sensitive remote. Enter: Bully: Scholarship Edition, a Grand Theft Auto-style romp seen through the eyes of rebellious youth Jimmy Hopkins who's been sent off to the elite Bullworth Academy boarding school - and has no problem showing his distaste for the situation. A mix of side-quests, classroom requirements, unfriendly administrators, and the complex social structure of high school give you plenty of opportunities for action and mischief. The only question that remains is whether or not the new Wii functionality and the expanded edition's extras make this a worthwhile purchase. That is what we will investigate, with this Bully: Scholarship Edition walkthrough review.
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On to her latest male conquest, your disaffected mother has dropped you into boarding school just to get you out of the way. Once there, you discover that many of the other students are just as unhappy with their plight and they too are more interested in extra-curricular activities. The story unfolds much like any other high school tale. Some friends are actually enemies, reputation must be built with many different social circles, and getting in good with girls is one of your main activities.
There are plenty of twists and turns, which keeps the story interesting throughout the game. Though the initial character appearances play to stereotypes, nearly all of them end up coming out of their molds. The map itself is a function of the story line as well. As you go further in time, you get to go further in the space provided. Simply put: the more you progress, the more there is to the story line, which is the perfect formula for gaming.
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Several different modes come into play while working your way through the school year. The first is the most natural: you have to go to class. All the classroom challenges are dependent on carefully controlling the Wii remote. While this makes great sense during a dissection, the fact that you need to point at math answers is a bit confusing. Getting to class can also be a very frustrating factor throughout the game, as cutting class requires you to not only avoid campus security, but town police as well. Being caught gets you thrown back in the classroom.
With what little time is given to do things other than going to class, there's plenty to do - if you can actually make it there. The main story line is based on interactions with other deviants at the school, and takes the form of everything from cage-match fighting to messing with the caretaker's dog. Individually, few of the main plot tasks provide much difficulty, which won't sit well with more serious gamers.
Your side quests are angled towards character upgrades such as new outfits, better modes of transportation, and new fighting moves. These two are subject to serious time constraints, and sometimes take far more time than you actually have. The game will warn you that if you don't finish up and make it back to your bed in time, you'll simply pass out where you stand - and probably get robbed in your sleep.
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Graphics and Sound
With all the time devoted to sensing remote motions, very little seems to have been left over to improve the visual display of the game. While the layout was well-designed at the outset, the end product much resembles the PS2 version and doesn't take advantage of the next-generation technology. You'll see tons of details in the game - there are stickers for specials in convenience store windows and random frisbees aimlessly left outside the dorm rooms - but they don't look that great.
Where the creators failed to make you see, they succeeded in making you hear. Both big and small things are done well. Firecrackers actually sound as such and your skateboard is extremely realistic. In the larger scope, the voice acting is not only well rendered but convincing as well.
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The high points and low points of Bully don't come to an equilibrium that the game makers likely intended. Time and time again, the benefits get weighed down by the negatives, and vice versa. Likewise, the game lacks self-identity. A product of wildly successful creators Rockstar Games, the fact that so much is borrowed from their biggest hit, GTA, makes for bad overlay. Elements of RPG, adventure, and action step all over each other at many points, making the entire experience feel a bit stretched for logic. You can have a fistfight with a jock following a bike ride that outran a police car, then sit down for music class in the same breath.
But for all its flaws, Bully sure is fun to play. I actually found myself looking forward to the next dissection and lawn mowing side job, despite being baffled by how I got there. And that's precisely what puts it in the three-star range. It's nothing special for the most part, but there's always at least some entertainment within.