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Why Rockstar needs to make Bully 2

Criminals. Superpowers. Criminals with superpowers. For a genre that's all about being able to do anything, sandbox games have become mighty predictable. But you only have to look back as far as the end of the last generation for the antidote to the industry's myopia. Bully. A game that few people talk about now, but which remains easily the equal of GTA IV in terms of playability. It needs a sequel. Here's why...


Above: Jimmy Hopkins may look like a sneering, shaven-headed Neanderthal, but he's actually very likeable

 

We need variety

The game world in Red Dead Redemption was massive, possibly in answer to everyone who said GTA IV was too small after San Andreas. Maybe too big. Personally, I felt that the wilderness that made up the majority of the play area was a little too empty to hold my interest all the way to the end (I appreciate I'm in the minority when I say that). There's only so much you can do in a big open field - kill birds, ambush stagecoaches, pick flowers and kill more birds. While the execution is superb, there just isn't the opportunity for the kind of gameplay variations that Bully keeps throwing at you.

Bully's game world is comparatively tiny for the first three or four hours, but then opens up once you get outside of the school, giving you a virtual playground that's approaching the size of a GTA island. It's packed full of surprising and fun things to do. The go-kart track, the rollercoaster at the carnival, mowing lawns for money, doing a paper round, hitting the boxing ring, racing your BMX... after the similar variety of San Andreas, this was what we expected from GTA IV but we were sorely let down.


Above: The carnival area is something not even GTA IV gave us. Closed for the season? Bah

 

There's a time and place for everything...

Clearly, returning to school wouldn't be the best way to do Bully 2. Rockstar would either have to ignore the first game and have Jimmy start afresh at a new school, or (and this is my preferred option), set it at college as a straight sequel. This would be ideal, especially as Rockstar could get past the whole 'child violence' thing and avoid having more angry parents lobbying for the game to be banned. It's hard to believe now, but the outcry was so great last time, they were forced to rename the game 'Canis Canem Edit' (latin for Dog Eat Dog) in the UK, which didn't do anyone any favours.

College would also give you a new campus to explore, complete with halls of residence for stealth infiltration and a cast of teachers who are every bit as crazy and unstable as the old crew. Basically, it would be more of the same, but more grown-up and without all the PR headaches that go with it. All it needs to do is keep tongue firmly in cheek (or firmly in someone else's).


Above: Jimmy will happily kiss anyone. Fat, thin, boy, girl... he's not fussy

We're well into this generation of consoles now and the technology is in place to make a game like this absolutely come alive. The original did appear on Xbox 360, but it was a comparitively shabby port that added little in the way of current-gen gloss. The low-poly character models from the original would be replaced with high quality imagery in a style not as realistic as Heavy Rain but perhaps in the faux realism of Uncharted. And while a few canned animations would certainly be good for humour, adding the physics of GTA IV to the characters would give you loads of new ways to make your own fun.

 

We need a laugh

The other thing that's been missing from the genre for too long (aside from the odd exception like Saints Row 2) is a sense of humour. Bully's full of cutting satire and humourous observations, mostly delivered with a surprising level of subtlety. Like the alcoholic English teacher who gives you his bottle then opens a new one as soon as you're gone. The girl with the cold sores who insists they're not contagious once they've scabbed over. The Einstein mask you can wear that makes every cut-scene impossible to watch without laughing. The girls who kick you in the nuts when they catch you kissing another girl. When was the last time you played a game like that?


Above: This Qix-style art class revealed your art teacher in increasingly suggestive poses. Lolz

Red Dead has reignited interest in the third-person GTA-style game after the slight feeling of saturation that accompanied the DLC episodes for GTA IV. While we wait for the inevitable GTA V, there's unquestionably room for one more stop-gap title from Rockstar. I'm not convinced LA Noire is going to fill that hole perfectly. I am convinced this would.

Bully was initially misunderstood, modestly celebrated but now almost forgotten. I can understand why Rockstar would be reluctant to put themselves through all the bad press a second time but a college setting could sidestep all that. And with the genre getting just a little stagnant and set in its ways, Bully 2 would be a welcome revision class in how to make a great sandbox game.

Do you agree? Let me know what you think in the comments.

14 Sep, 2010

Topics

Rockstar

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60 comments

  • JohnnyMaverik - September 14, 2010 3:43 p.m.

    I agree wholeheartedly.
  • hester2 - September 14, 2010 3:46 p.m.

    Yes to college! Something in the vein of Animal House (Road Trip! Toga Party!) would be freaking amazing. Hitting golf balls at windows, paddles as weapons, wild parties, non-mandatory attendance, drinking games, and so much more. Please, Rockstar, now!
  • rampage198 - September 14, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    Would be amazing to get a second Bully game! MAKE IT HAPPEN ROCKSTAR!!
  • RageNEWLAND - September 14, 2010 4 p.m.

    Yes Yes Yes!
  • grizzly311 - September 14, 2010 4:03 p.m.

    Probably my favorite Rockstar game. Would love to see it revisited.
  • billybobbyjoe - September 14, 2010 4:05 p.m.

    I have wanted this ever since the first one! It didn't sell well which is probably why rockstar didn't make a sequel though as controversy is something they hardly shy away from. I adored the fun and humour in it and i have been desperate to play it again but with a broken ps2 and no emulator on the ps3 this has been impossible sadly :( Humour and fun is something that seems to have vanished from the modern games industry, too much emphasis is placed on real world/gritty settings when in fact sometime all we want is a world that is unique and makes us interested in it.
  • Thorton - September 14, 2010 4:07 p.m.

    One of my favorite sand-box titles and I can't believe it hasn't seen a sequel yet. Rockstar I'm highly disappointed.
  • OnyxOblivion - September 14, 2010 4:09 p.m.

    Keep the same soundtrack person. Bully's soundtrack was amazing!
  • CAPST3R - September 14, 2010 4:14 p.m.

    Just this morning, me and a friend were talking about precisely the same thing! Good-o! I also think it should be possible to play with a friend (like one of you kneels behind a guy, the other pushes him), it's make it fantastic! Also, while there aren't any fun games out at the moment, DR2 and Duke Nukem Forever (it's not been delayed since last week!) both promise to be, and who could forget Worms? And I'm sure Portal 2 will have quite a bit of comedy (Stephen Merchant) as well.
  • GreatMuerte - September 14, 2010 4:20 p.m.

    @GamesRadarJustinTowell. It like u reached inside my head and raped my mind, u sir are a legend mr Towell, me and my friends talk about this all the time and came up with the same ideas. class act sir
  • mattchew86 - September 14, 2010 4:21 p.m.

    Bully 2 would be awesome. That was one of the few reasons I didn't want to get a ps3 slim. (but I did anyway). My wife and I both thought this game rocked, so I'm glad SOMEBODY finally said something.
  • bluscorp - September 14, 2010 4:26 p.m.

    We definitely need a Bully 2. Bully was one of the best and atmosphere games I've ever played, like the bit where it's Christmas and you get a woolly jumper, genius.
  • sternparez - September 14, 2010 4:43 p.m.

    YES! Has to be at college too, the Christmas I got Bully and Guitar Hero 2 was a very fine two weeks
  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - September 14, 2010 5:02 p.m.

    This Bully 2 would be perfect for WII alone, NO HD version is "NEEDED".
  • Gable - September 14, 2010 5:09 p.m.

    But please, remove the sleep thing.
  • KingDjango - September 14, 2010 5:14 p.m.

    Gary could come back for revenge!!Or maybe someone related to Gary in some way!! Its so strange,I had almost the same idea not even a week ago!
  • bedelicious - September 14, 2010 5:29 p.m.

    Totally agree. Bully 2 needs to happen.
  • AlSwearengenHatesCocksuckers - September 14, 2010 6:33 p.m.

    Don't know about the college idea. Maybe a new character and Bullworth gets an upgrade from some Obama Stimulus money or something equally tongue in cheek. Maybe a Skate scenario and the town was destroyed and reshaped in some disaster. Jimmy was honestly the weakest part of the whole story to me, the rest of the characters and their troubles were the high points.
  • xenon - September 14, 2010 6:43 p.m.

    Some might call this blasphemy, but I actually preferred Bully to GTA III and IV, and have played it on both my PS2 and my 360. So three thumbs up for Bully 2! :)
  • Kage_No_Shi - September 14, 2010 6:49 p.m.

    I'm actually currently playing it on the PC. I would certainly like to see a College sequel.

Showing 1-20 of 60 comments

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