Game Description: For Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, it is the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity. As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by a series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them and a living nightmare for those who don’t.
Liberty City is so dense with culture, from its varied architecture to its faux-internet websites and range of satirical television and radio programs, that it is easy to forget the boundaries the game has set and easier to get lost within it. The improvements on graphics, sound and design were always going to be a given though it is significant that the game controls are now adequate enough to foster a sense of empowerment in every shootout or cop chase.
Game Description: Retaining the wit and deep gameplay of the previously released PS2 Bully title, Bully: Scholarship Edition takes place in the fictional New England boarding school of Bullworth Academy and tells the story of 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins as he experiences the highs and lows of adjusting to a new school. Capturing the hilarity and awkwardness of adolescence perfectly, Bully: Scholarship Edition pulls the player into its cinematic and engrossing world set in the most vile and sadistic setting yet in a Rockstar videogame: the schoolyard. Laugh and cringe as you stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, play pranks on malicious kids, win or lose the girl, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the fictitious Bullworth Academy.
I attended what I would consider to be a pretty typical public high school. We had a wide range of personalities and social cliques. There were occasional fights and pranks and general instances of trouble making. A few of the teachers seemed a bit strange. But for the most part, the students were reasonably well behaved and the teachers were, by and large, competent and conscientious. In short, my high school was absolutely nothing like Bulworth Academy, the setting for Rockstar's Bully: Scholarship Edition.
A while back I went to see the film Juno. I'd heard good things, and Jason Bateman was in it, so "what the hell", I thought. Then, just a few minutes into the film, someone (I don't remember if it was annoying girl or slutty friend) said "Honest to Blog". And then all I could feel was hatred, eating away at my soul and humanity. I turned to the friend sitting next to me and said "The only way this won't be the worst film I see this year is if, by the last ten minutes, it's somehow become a movie about Werewolves with rocket launchers battling Robots on motorcycles." Needless to say, this did not happen, and the film went on to be depressingly dull.
Why am I writing about this here, on a game review site? Well, allow me to post this picture from the Magic Box, the only place to go for pictures of Japanese games that may never come out in North America:
You're not seeing things. That's a werewolf with a rocket launcher. When I first saw pictures of this game late last year, it was like all my fondest dreams of werewolves launching rockets were coming true. According to my therapist, those dreams represent my contentious relationship with my grocer. I suspect my therapist isn't very good at his job.
Some of GTA4's problems can be attributed to the developers' desire to hold features over from previous incarnations, and the rest seem to be caused by the understandable lack of focus that results from attempting to create a truly epic game world. All of these problems are outweighed by what the game gets right, both in the superlative story it tells and the unprecedented freedom the multiplayer mode offers.
Experiments are a necessary part of the development of game design. If some industrious soul hadn't invented the life bar and health pack, we'd be stuck with one-hit death. And if another, even more industrious soul hadn't invented progressive health, we'd still be stuck with the life bar and health pack. Of course, not every experiment is a positive one, and not every change is for the better. The Club is a perfect demonstration of that concept.
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