Bully PlayStation 2

Metascore
87

Generally favorable reviews - based on 69 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 65 out of 69
  2. Negative: 0 out of 69
Buy On
  1. 100
    Years from now, Bully will stand up on any ‘best of PS2 list’, Jimmy Hopkins will still reign as the coolest kid in school, and hopefully one day soon I will finally find all 76 hidden rubber bands.
  2. 100
    The key to enjoying the game really is getting the hang of how the game works and then getting those beefier missions rolling. Bully truly is one of the better games to come out of Rockstar in quite awhile.
  3. 100
    The best games -- games like Bully -- don't concern themselves with technical perfection. They just push headlong into new places and new ideas, leaving behind the ranks of unimaginative, spit-polished safe bets. Bully takes chances, and the gamble pays off big.
  4. Rockstar has really pulled out all the stops here to make Bully an entertaining game that truly showcases the power of the PS2.
  5. 94
    Bully is a masterpiece in all aspects of the word and in my book, fully worth of at least one sequel.
  6. If there is anything that can be learned from Bully, it is how a good RPG should be designed. It captures an atmosphere, gives you characters you can approach with some emotion, and manages to contain itself, while not limiting itself, to a point where the game is acceptable for kids.
  7. Bully takes the previous GTA structure, puts it to use in a school setting, and in the process Rockstar has created one of the most original and fun titles on the PlayStation 2.
  8. PSM3 Magazine UK
    93
    Immaculately designed and an absolute joy to play through. The best game of the year so far. [Dec 2006, p.22]
  9. Definitely deserving of every accolade it gets, but many of the complaints against its content seem absurd after playing it. There’s no graphic violence, and much of the fighting is done out of either self defense or in defense of someone weaker than their attacker.
  10. Rockstar's newest game is easily one of the best games of the year, an adventure game that you should pick up ... regardless of what type of games you are into.
  11. Isn’t it about time we stop judging graphics solely on realism and clarity and take a look at the visual continuity and overall artistic craftsmanship? Extremely skilled artists worked day and night for years to create this world and they definitely succeeded in every way.
  12. Games Master UK
    90
    Characters are brilliant parodies of people we all know from school - the fat kid who smells of wee, the flirty art teacher, geeks who greet you with the word "salutations." The attention to detail and the jokes are what makes it so good, along with its "GTA"-like gameplay. [Dec 2006, p.80]
  13. Take a nostalgic journey back to high school and beat the crap out of the bullies that used to torment you - reason enough to pick up Bully. Of course, the inventive missions, tons of mini-games, and solid graphics are good reasons too.
  14. 90
    Bully fires on all cylinders from start to finish. Rockstar has done it again...It's a guarantee that gamers we'll be talking about this game for many years to come.
  15. For those that are hoping for just a massive and bloody brawl, you're not going to find it in Bully. It's a game that almost everyone can identify with, and getting your character through school is a complex yet simple experience, made fun by the pacing and the sheer amount of things that you can do.
  16. It may not be GTA and it doesn't reach the heady heights of San Andreas in terms of crazy missions but for those who want the next GTA clone which is fun, look no further and swap your leather jacket for a school uniform.
  17. Sure, there’s some slowdown in places, and graphically everything looks as current-gen as it possibly could, but the gameplay mechanic and the sheer fun you’ll be having reliving your school days will make you completely oblivious to any of these problems.
  18. Official Playstation 2 Magazine UK
    90
    While we definitely don't remember school being this much fun, this is a brilliant return to a more innocent time. One of the year's best games. [Dec 2006, p.102]
  19. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    90
    It takes that same GTA structure but gives it a fresh setting and story that's focused to a much more manageable size. [Dec. 2006, p.120]
  20. Things are a little wacky and over the top, but it works fine and the game is better because of it. With a compelling story, unique approach, and strong gameplay you can't go wrong with Bully.
  21. A remarkable action game in all respects.
  22. Bully is all about choices and making something out of a bad situation. It’s also a really great game full of humor and believable characters. I recommend it highly.
  23. 90
    Where the game really shines is in its story, which offers class-based warfare amid jocks, nerds, bullies, greasers, and preppies. As Bully progresses and Jimmy finds himself enmeshed in his struggle to survive, the game blossoms, and players will find themselves desperate to see what happens next.
  24. A rewarding, free-form adventure that takes a surprisingly thoughtful (if cartoonish) approach to high school. You won't be disappointed.
  25. 90
    One of the year's best, because it diverts from "GTA's" hyper-violent barrage of social satire and genital jokes to be something more subtle, but equally meaningful. Young people might not appreciate it as much because they're still living it. For that reason, don't buy Bully for your younger relatives. Buy it for yourself.
  26. Dated technology aside, Bully's a fresh breath of air in a stagnating game market -- complete with cool art direction, a great soundtrack, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and a gameplay mechanic that's new, yet familiar to anyone who's played any of the 'Grand Theft Auto' games.
  27. And upon that base of competency, Bully builds an empire of fun, and hits some really high notes - with now perhaps a good time to mention the orchestral soundtrack, which is memorable from beginning to end.
  28. Bully is filled with entertaining and diverse gameplay. It’s got a great story with lots of humor and emotion – and just enough violence to satiate all you little bastards out there.
  29. A more focused game than the GTA series and you're more likely to plough ahead and actually get somewhere with the story. Those of you who found the scale of San Andreas a little bewildering and ultimately off-putting will find a challenge here more to your liking.
  30. One of those rare treats that ignores the hype to bring us a truly entertaining adventure game that immerses players into its detailed world. It is a fresh and inventive game that, much like its main protagonist, is outright charming.
  31. Its regimented take on open-world gaming is surprisingly well handled, and Hopkins' quest to put order to what is the Wild West of education, has been built with enough loving care that players will be compelled to follow it to its natural conclusion.
  32. Forget the controversy, Canis Canem Edit is fun throughout and a reminder of just how entertaining videogames can be.
  33. Bully stays true to its content material the way the mission structures are setup.
  34. Coming off of a long session of playing Bully, you could easily feel like that time was spent with a GTA title. But whereas the countless knockoffs have simply tried to recreate that experience, Bully has taken the genre and used it in a completely different mold; it's this extremely fresh take on things that makes it so much fun.
  35. 89
    A great, well-crafted action game that has one of the best senses of humor around and dozens and dozens of hours of fun.
  36. Bully raises the bar concerning what a video game should be about and what it is capable of saying. This is a fine experience no gamer should miss.
  37. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    88
    It's amazing how well Bully nails a huge assortment of activities. Everything, from midway games to English class, is fun. [Dec. 2006, p.146]
  38. Remember mom and dad – Bully's just a game. And in games as in life, everyone has the freedom to choose whether or not to play by the rules.
  39. If you had any fun with GTA whatsoever, or enjoy the game play of a sandbox type game but long for tamer content, you’ll have a great time with this one.
  40. Bully is the type of game that only a company like Rockstar Games could pull off. It’s undeniably well produced, pushes the envelope as to what is possible in videogames, and remains unquestionably fun.
  41. Refreshing, fun and addictive.
  42. Its "Teen" rating is dead-on – though the game has violence, light vulgarity, and sexual themes, it never crosses the line to become an adult experience. Bully is an open-world, story-driven, high-schooling experience unlike any you have played before.
  43. Play UK
    87
    A damn enjoyable game. The characters grow on you after a while and it's not long before you feel as though you're starting to fit in at Bullworth Academy. [Issue # 146, p.72]
  44. Pelit (Finland)
    87
    Shows that the GTA concept is not suited only for the world of crime. School world has been sadly neglected in games and because of that Canis Canem Edit feels fresh. The Rockstar sense of humour and fun is all here. [Dec 2006]
  45. Bully's unique setting and quality gameplay make for an exciting and memorable action adventure game.
  46. Admittedly there are no truly grave punishments in the game, but the violence is often more comical than serious anyway.
  47. I never felt like it was particularly new or fresh in terms of gameplay mechanics, but it does tackle a setting and issues that rarely come up in the world of video games, because the industry, media, and (sadly) many gamers are too caught up in getting all googly-eyed over empty violence to appreciate when a game tries to rise above such shallow meanderings.
  48. PSM Magazine
    85
    Don't let any of this--or the controversy surrounding it--deter you, though; Bully is a remarkable game. [Holiday 2006, p.72]
  49. There are a few control problems and loading times can sometimes be a pain, but otherwise it’s just an enjoyable game.
  50. Ironically, the very thing that made Bully the subject of so much criticism – the school setting – is also its greatest strength. In Bullworth and the surrounding town, Rockstar Vancouver has created an extremely detailed universe, full of secrets, humorous characters, and hidden activities.
  51. I think most high-school kids would get a kick out of this game, regardless of whether they can play GTA or not.
  52. The first few minutes of Bully are claustrophobic and off-putting, but as soon as you and Jimmy settle in, the game becomes surprisingly endearing.
  53. Smart, stylish, and original, Bully deserves a spot in your class.
  54. While some hardcore fans of the genre may find the schoolboy setting a minor lack of interest, others will see Bully as simply a GTA for kids, and there is really nothing wrong with that.
  55. The only catch is the camera. It’s very tricky to make your character go one way, and your perspective another.
  56. Bully is a surprisingly simple and rather tame game by Rockstar's standards, but that's part of its charm. The sense of grandeur seen in the likes of San Andreas isn't here, but Bully has a sense of character that is unique.
  57. 80
    Jimmy Hopkins is a more entertaining character than any of the GTA leads (except perhaps Tommy Vercetti). This propels Bully to a status of well above average, providing a rich, detailed gaming experience – but not without its flaws.
  58. games(TM)
    80
    Rockstar’s gift for salty humour and broad characterisation is ideally suited to the playground. Not only is this its finest game outside GTA, it’s arguably the best open-world game since too. [Dec 2006, p.128]
  59. Given the subject matter, the game deserves its 15 rating but not a parliamentary debate.
  60. For all of the claims by the mainstream media that this game is just like GTA, and will be a great harm to society’s moral fabric, the truth is far from it.
  61. Takes the well-trodden city-based 'sandbox' path, adds plenty of it's own style and originality and comes out with a pleasing, well-rounded and well-developed game.
  62. The combat system is wonderful, the characters are as compelling as ever and there's a running theme of incest amongst the upper classes. You couldn't ask for much more from an adventure game, really.
  63. Edge Magazine
    80
    It’s utterly relentless in its provision of new activities and distractions to the point that it’s hard not to become absorbed, a feeling backed up by the fact that most plot missions introduce a new location or interior environment to revisit and explore. [Dec 2006, p.80]
  64. But considering the title, it's a strangely sweet and charming little thing, so much so that anyone looking for cheap, violent thrills will quickly tire of Bully's mostly pacifistic tone.
  65. A fun, fresh and lengthy single-player adventure for teenagers and adults. While the game isn't as controversial as many feared, it will still push a few buttons for its rebellious attitude.

Awards & Rankings

#6 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2006
#7 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2006
User Score
9.1

Universal acclaim- based on 246 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 54
  2. Negative: 1 out of 54
  1. AkramA.
    Dec 30, 2007
    10
    One of the most enjoyable original PS2 games ever... Excellent soundtrack... and a game worth playing for years!
  2. Nov 29, 2013
    10
    So much fun, like a teen version of Grand Theft Auto games. Good soundtrack, nice story, and great gameplay. I had a lot of fun with it.So much fun, like a teen version of Grand Theft Auto games. Good soundtrack, nice story, and great gameplay. I had a lot of fun with it. Definitely worth playing. Full Review »
  3. Jul 12, 2013
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Summary
    +Great levels of originality, making it much better than a “San Andreas without guns” as some have claimed the game is.
    +Excellent variety of characters weapons, clothes, vehicles, activities etc.
    +Good voice acting giving the characters depth.
    +Great levels of humour making Bully one of the most enjoyable games Rockstar has made.
    +Interesting story involving great interactions with MPC from different fractions, with each character feeling individual.
    -Story while good ends on a non-ground-breaking note.
    -The game is too easy, as the enemy A.I isn’t that smart and the use of upgrades and weapons, help make combat a bit of a breeze.
    -Weak graphics by modern standards, but that is to be expected from a game this old.

    Full Review
    One the great things that you will notice about Bully is how the RPG like elements help to make Jimmy(your character) feel more alive, as he progresses gaining skills as the story progresses. This is particularly true after completing individual classes, e.g. in gym class you can unlock new attacks like head-butt etc. Speaking of classes on the great things is how all of them are unique requiring different skills. The only class I found to be particularly difficult is that of English, because I suck at speaking England. Other activities that provide unlocks etc. is that of racing which eventually led you to unlock a go cart which activities also help you earn money you can use to buy clothes, haircuts ,tattoos (on the last section of the map). Unfortunately you can only date girls in the game once, but it’s not major issue as they remain present within various sections of the story. Such activities help to make Bully feel more special than just a “p***y version of San Andreas”.

    The next great thing about Bully is the funny elements of the game. It is so satisfying to get prefects (who are the police of the school) and dunk them in toilets and dump them in garbage bags. My personal felt thing to do is too walk behind them and crank them in the back of the head with a baseball bat, (I am normal honestly). However unlike other games with such humour, Bully mixes in features that help remind you that you are not un-punishable e.g. detention. Such features help maintain a beautiful balances between humour and realism.

    The next great thing about Bully is that of levels of variety. This can be seen by how each student MPC is unique and differently voiced helping them feel like different characters rather than simple copies of each other. This is especially true of MPCs within the story, e.g. Russell, Gary etc. Other variety includes how the environment, while small compared to other open world games, is full of detail and interesting locations, e.g. the mental asylum, the fair ground, the slaughter house etc.

    As far as I can see there are only two sources of concern within the game.

    The first is the combat. This is a really fun feature of the game, with the use of unlocking new moves and weapons e.g. the rocket launcher (not that good due to accuracy issues); help to enhance combat make it feel fresh. What is also good is how the comical nature of the game helps to provide a nice contrast with the really violent nature of the game. There are however two major issues. The first is that the melee combat is too simple, as most moves require pressing square multiple times and holding it. The second issue is how the combat is too easy because the enemy A.I isn’t too sharp, meaning in the whole game I never once got knocked out (in GTA terms “died”). Such features remove tension in battle.

    The second possible issue is that of story. The story is by no means a bad story, as you gradually progress via chapters, in which you fight the leader of each fraction and gradually climb the ladder of popularity. While at first this seems repetitive, it actually proves no to be so, because within each chapter Jimmy takes a different approach to beating each fraction, e.g. in the 4th (Spoiler) he uses the nerds to help beat the jocks. This is lack of repetitiveness, is helped by the variety of characters, missions, but mainly because of Jimmy himself being portrayed as the only sane character in an otherwise insanity filled school. Unfortunately though the ending is not cinematic enough, because while it provides a nice completed ending with no unanswered questions, it is very predictable and the final boss battle, in many ways is worse than the fights with the faction’s leaders.

    Nevertheless these issues are not enough to prevent Bully being one of the greatest games Rockstar has ever made. If you can I would advise getting the ps2 version, because unfortunately the XBOX 360 version has few bugs, not many improvements in graphics, and not enough added in other than 4 new classes (that are mostly pointless) to make it a superior version. Nevertheless the XBOX version will still have great value.

    Let’s hope Bully 2 is going to be just as awesome.
    Full Review »