Bully is played out through a series of choose-your-mission mini-stories that piece together a grander plot. As Jimmy Hopkins, the fifteen year old with balls of steel and a heart of gold (sort of—play the game, you’ll get it), you’ll set out to both solve and make problems all over Bullworth Academy and the surrounding town. And here it is—what makes Bully so attractive—the setting.
But behind all this somewhat predictable setup is such a charm and wonderful artistic style— not to mention one of the best leading characters to be seen in a videogame for long time—that grants Bully an almost impossible quality among videogames: it is timeless. The laughs to be had hearing the principal tell you that in his day it was “nothing to castrate the new boy,” or the satisfaction you’ll get from thumping a bully that’s picking on a little kid will keep you going through Bully and have you coming back for more even after the story wraps itself up. Bully gets you into the anti-hero role of Jimmy and gets you to care about the people he cares about, and hate the ones he hates too. You’ll be playing ‘just one more mission’ for hours to find out how Jimmy will get back at whoever, and you’ll be completely surprised each time by how he, well you, do it.
Back this awesome story and gameplay up with easily the best soundtrack of any game this year and you have a clear winner. Bully is fresh, funny, addictive and, despite first glances, definitely not just another empty sand-box. Rockstar has come through with its most mature, rewarding and arguably best game yet.