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Bully: Scholarship Edition Review

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★★★★★

While there’s no disputing Bully (or Canis Canem Edit as it was known on these shores) was a fun romp, it didn’t boast the irresistible charm of its grown-up stablemate Grand Theft Auto, and the fact it played more like The Breakfast Club than Grange Hill was a disappointment for anyone hoping for an edgier take on the horrors of school life. And on the Xbox 360, this niggling sense of a missed opportunity is even more acute.

As an open-ended adventure, Bully offers the same dramatic sense of freedom as GTA, players having the choice to play through the missions in sequence and work towards the grand finale, or veer off the beaten track and try their hand at a myriad of optional challenges. The chance to interact with fellow pupils and other characters in a convincing way also helps bring this sharply scripted coming-of-age tale to life, and new missions created specifically for the Xbox 360 add extra depth to the celebrated original.

However, compared to other adventure games that have hit the shelves since Bully’s debut, the Scholarship Edition feels shallow, the repetitive side quests amounting to little more than collecting items or fighting rivals, a routine that becomes wearing after a few hours. Interacting with the computer-controlled characters can also be unrewarding as the students and teachers follow the plot arc despite how you interact with them in earlier sequences, and the safe, teen movie take on the best days of your life will alienate players looking for a darker depiction of life on campus.

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