Bully - updated hands-on

First, let's clear something up: Bully both is and isn't Grand Theft Auto in a school. It uses the GTA game engine, so anyone familiar with those games should have an easy time navigating Bullworth Academy and the surrounding town. But while it's a mission-based, free-roaming adventure, you can't jack cars in Bully. You can't mug people, and you can't use deadly weapons or kill anyone. No hookers, sex or blood, either.

So, is Bully the dangerous game everyone says it is? Only if you think Bart Simpson is a violent cancer on society.

We'vealready covered a lot of the basics of publisher Rockstar's high-school simulator, in which a hard-nosed young tough named Jimmy Hopkins gets sent to the only boarding school left that'll take him. But after being given free rein with a finished copy of the game, we've come away with a more complete picture of what you can expect this October.

The game begins with Jimmy getting dumped at Bullworth by his serial-marrying mother, and after some violent new-kid hazing by the school bullies, he's befriended by a twitchy, overmedicated little Svengali named Gary. Gary's obsessed with "taking over the school," and he represents what everyone seems to think Bully is about: remorseless, sociopathic hatred. So it's fairly obvious even from the start that he's destined to be the game's villain.

Until then, the first chapter ping-pongs between helping out with Gary's cruel pranks - which help familiarize you with the school - and protecting a clique of nerdy kids from the school's jocks and bullies (for a fee, of course).