Reinstall: Bully

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Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. Today, Sam Roberts brushes up on his high school etiquette for a return to Bully's halls of mischief.

Bully starts with the shitty experience of going to a new school and ends with a subculture civil war. Certain media outlets flew off the handle when Rockstar announced they were making a game titled Bully, given their traditional adult subject matter and the context of the story, but the irony is that this is Rockstar’s softest and silliest game, with the warmest heart.

The GTA open-world template is borrowed almost in its entirety; even missions and distractions are similarly represented on the map. Instead of matching the earlier San Andreas’s scale, however, Rockstar Vancouver pursued detail and intimacy: the town of Bullworth feels about the size of an island in GTA III. What you get instead is an environment that shares more DNA with a Deus Ex hub or Arkham City, where there’s logic behind the placing of buildings and a more handcrafted feel to the art direction. It’s a more experimental approach to open-world design from Rockstar. I see Bully as their passion project, the chance to take commercially proven game mechanics and apply to them to the sort of story no other developers would think of telling.