Total Reviews: 4
Average Overall Score Given: 7.87500 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 93

Bully: Scholarship Edition

Overall: When Rockstar came out with Grand Theft Auto it really created it's own genre. The open-world, sandbox style of gameplay proved to be quite popular with people and the series has gone on to garner great critical acclaim and sell TONS of games. I have always found the GTA games to be a bit overrated, but they are all still worth owning & playing. After the great success of the series, many companies started to copy Rockstar and put out open-world games themselves. Well I guess it's Rockstar's turn to rip themselves off as Bully is an obvious 'teenage' version of Grand Theft Auto.

Gameplay: If you have played any of the GTA games from the previous generation, you will know what to expect with Bully. The storyline is very different, of course. But the gameplay is almost exactly the same. You play the game as a 15 yr. old kid who gets dumped off at a strict boarding school by your parents because you have had some difficulty behaving in the past. Just like in GTA's city, the school in Bully has certain factions. Instead of Italians, Latinos, Russians, Blacks you have Bullies, Nerds, Jocks, Greasers, & Townies. And just like in GTA, you go through the game's story mode working for all these factions as different times all while looking out for your own agenda. Each faction will have different missions for you to do and it usually involves messing with one of the other factions. Along the way, you slowly work your way up the ladder and you are basically running the school at one point. Like I mentioned before, this type of game structure should make fans of GTA right at home. The whole time I played through the story mode, I felt like I was playing GTA 3 for 13 yr. olds. There isn't much swearing in the game and you can't kill anyone. There are no hookers, pimps, gangs, you can't drive, etc. It's basically like Rockstar thought they were getting a lot of heat for their GTA series, so they would make a game people under 18 could enjoy (even though everyone knows that people underage play GTA).

I don't mean to make that sound like a negative because the game is quite fun. In fact, I like the storyline here better than any of the GTA games on the PS2. And the missions have WAY more variety than ANY of the GTA games I have played. That includes the newer Grand Theft Auto 4. The game definitely has a certain charm to it that is hard not to deny. The game has many different things you can due while you are not working on the story missions. You can go to a carnival, go shopping, mow lawns for $, participate in bike races, kiss girls, run errands for people that will pay you $, but the biggest non-storyline related gameplay feature in the game are the cl@!%#*!es.

Each day you have to attend cl@!%#*!es, and you must be in them on time or you are truant. There are several different cl@!%#*!es, such as English, Math, Geography, and so on. When you go to one of these cl@!%#*!es, you then start a mini-game of sorts. Depending on how you do in the mini-game, you will either p@!%#*! or fail and have to eventually do it again. You get a bunch of nice little bonuses for completing each cl@!%#*! and the mini-games are actually fun. Some of them are irritating (Art cl@!%#*! comes to mind), but I really liked doing most of them even though you don't have to, technically. You can skip every cl@!%#*! if you want, but if the 'prefects' (school ground security staff) or cops catch you then you will get busted. To be honest, it would be in your best interest to do the cl@!%#*!es anyways, as you get lots of useful items and skills and the most of the games are fun.

You go to cl@!%#*! twice a day with a break for lunch in-between. The rest of the time in the day is yours to do whatever you want. Just like in GTA, this is where the open-world gameplay comes in. If you want to advance the story along, you can. If you don't, then you can go do some of the fun activities that the game lets you do. You do have a cerfew (which is 11pm) and if you aren't in bed by 1am, you literally p@!%#*! out where you stand, which gets you caught and you lose some of your items.

While the game is a fun and mostly positive experience, there are some glaring flaws that can't be ignored. The most obvious is the shocking amount of glitches in this Xbox 360 version. I had the game lock-up on me multiple times. I have my character get stuck in the ground without being able to move, so I had to restart from a save. As I was riding on my skateboard once, my character kept glitching in and out with his face replacing the back of his head and vice versa. Some of the achievements are very glitchy, which is obviously frustrating. These are just some of the instances where a frustrating glitch would take me out of the gameplay experience. This is obviously unacceptable and I know Rockstar released a patch fixing some glitches early on, but they obviously didn't fix them all.

Then you get to the game itself. Some of the controls are annoying, such as having to press my 'A' button over and over just to run faster. The handling on the skateboard and bikes can be twitchy. The game shows you a load screen for almost everything you do. The camera is god-awful at times, especially when you are indoors. And while I mentioned that the game is fun due to the different kinds of missions you can do, it still gets a little repetitive. It's not as bad as GTA, but it's there. The stuff you can do on your own time, which was really cool at the beginning of the game start to get a bit old after awhile and you basically get in a routine of a daily grind. You go to cl@!%#*!, kill some time, go to another cl@!%#*!, do a story mission or two, maybe do some other stuff, go to sleep, rinse and repeat about five thousand times. It does make it frustrating to try to get stuff done when the in-game clock moves WAY too fast, especially since you have to be in bed by a certain time.

Overall, the game is fun to play and any fan of GTA will probably like it. Almost everything you can do in GTA, there is a teenage version of it in this game. Ultimately, that is what Bully will leave with you: a feeling that you just played Grand Theft Auto made for kids. It's fun for adults, but it doesn't do enough to seperate itself from it's 'big brother'.

Graphics: Once you boot this game up, you will obviously notice this game was not made for this generation of consoles. Of course, if you are even playing this game you will probably already know this was a Playstation 2 title. And it certainly looks the part. You can tell Rockstar worked on the visuals a bit, but they are pretty poor overall. The good part is that you probably know this going into the game, so you shouldn't be expecting anything better. The game has a nice visual style even if the technology has long since p@!%#*!ed this game by.

Audio: I will commend Rockstar for doing another great job with the voice acting in a game. There are no big names here, but the game is outstanding in this area. There isn't much to say about the music, but it does the job. There are no licensed tracks like there is in the GTA games, but it's not something I really thought about while playing the game.

Suggestions: It's too bad that Rockstar released Bully in this sort of condition. This is a very good game hiding behind crappy visuals and numerous glitches. While I can excuse the dated graphics due to this being a budget game and I knew about it going in, there is no excuse for releasing a game that doesn't work properly. Because of that, the game feels like a quick and dirty port job to get people to shell out some more $. If you have played the PS2 version, don't bother with this Xbox 360 version, as the new missions aren't worth you buying this again. The game is fun and any fan of the Grand Theft Auto series will probably really get into it. I just feel it's more of a rental than a purchase due to the short length of the game and the unfortunate bugs that really hamper your experience with the game.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Culdcept: SAGA

Overall: Culdcept Saga is certainly not for everyone. If you haven't heard of this game before, I could sum up it by saying if you combined 'Magic: The Gathering' and Monopoly, then you get Culdcept Saga. It's a very fun and addicting game if you can get into it and if you have lots of patience. It's also one of the worst games for the Xbox 360, in terms of presentation. If you end up playing this game for any amount of time, it will be because of the excellent gameplay. It won't be because of the lousy graphics, lame story, or hideous voice acting. I know a lot of people won't be able to get past that problem. If you can, however, you will be in for a treat of a game.

Gameplay: Like I said in my opening, if you ever played Magic: The Gathering then this might be a game you will really get into. I wasn't a huge fan of Magic, but I played it a decent amount. And as soon as I started playing this game, I really got into the mix of collecting cards, making up a deck, and the mix of a board game similar to Monopoly.

The game basically goes like this: You start the game with a deck of cards. Each one has a certain 'element' that it's @!%#*!ociated with. Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind are the four elements. You can then mix up your deck with any fifty cards you want. In those fifty cards, you can mix between creatures, items, and spells. It's up to you how to use those cards and which cards to mix in the deck with others. Some people prefer to just take all the best cards they have, but those might not mix well together. Others may want to focus on just bring with cards that help one or two elements and blend together well. For instance, the Fire and Earth cards tend to work well together. It's all up to you and it's fun to mix and match to find a deck that fits your play style.

After you have made a deck you like, you are then placed on a board that is very similar to the board in Monopoly. As you roll the dice, you will land on certain spaces that correspond to the elements that you carry in your hand. If you land on a red space, and you have a Fire creature then you can place it on that space. You can place conflicting elements on colored spaces if you want, but then you don't get an element bonus. Or if you do put, say a Water creature, on a Fire spot on the board, you can always change the color later by spending some 'magic' (the game's form of currency). As you work your way around the game board, if you land on someone else's creature, you either have to use another creature to defeat the defending one or pay the 'toll' (same thing as rent in Monopoly) that is on the land. As the game goes on, the owner of the land can level it up and the toll goes up with it (again similar to buying houses and hotels in Monopoly). And just like in Monopoly, when you p@!%#*! the starting point ('Go' in Monopoly, here it's a castle), you get more magic to spend, etc.

There are lots of other little things I could get into and go on for awhile here, but that basically sums it up. You can also use spells at the start of a turn, use items when attacking/defending a land, and there are other special lands on the board that do a variety of different things depending on the map. It's a very fun and addicting type of game, but it can be frustrating because some of the game relies on luck. Of course, with any game that a dice is involved with, you will have to deal with the luck factor. And it can especially frustrating when the CPU seems to have MUCH better luck than you.

In fact, some games can take up to three hours to go through and your only reward for losing is that you receive several random cards for your deck. If you win, you get many more. As I mentioned before, you will have to have patience to enjoy this game and this is exactly what I meant. A lot of people will not be happy with playing a level for three hours, only to lose to the CPU when you thought that they got a bit 'luckier' than you. Thankfully, the game is very fun and it's not the end of the world to replay the same level again.

In the single-player game you get a story in between levels. This story is actually pretty lame and you won't give a @!%#*! about the characters or the story in general. You can skip through the scenes if you like and you won't be missing much if you do. The storyline is certainly not one of the strong points of the game. In fact, the presentation as a whole, is NOT a strong point in the game.....

Graphics: To say that the visuals in Culdcept Saga are last-gen, would be giving it a compliment. This looks like a lousy looking PS2 game. Now while I didn't expect the graphics to be great, by any means, I was expecting a little better than this. In fact, the only reason I didn't score this game higher than an '8' is because of the graphics and voice acting. The poor visuals really didn't bother me too much, but it might be a big deal to some other gamers.

Audio: To listen to the voice acting in this game, I find it similar to what it would be like to listen to the sound of 'nails on a chalkboard' for about eight hours straight. It's terrible. Like the visuals, this was clearly not a priority when bringing this game to the Xbox 360. Once again, that will disappoint a lot of people, but I wasn't expecting it to be much different. This is a budget game and as long as the gameplay is solid, I was happy. The music isn't too bad, but it's nothing that will be in your memory for any amount of time after shutting the game off.

Suggestions: Sure the presentation blows hard and the story is crap, but this game is all about the gameplay. And that is where Culdcept delivers if you are interested in the premise of the game at all. I would love to see what a bigger budget version of this game would be like, and I am hoping the next game in the series will give me that wish. I would highly recommend this game to anyone with patience and was into Magic: The Gathering at all. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but this is the type of game that will garner some hardcore fans and could end up being one of those 'cult cl@!%#*!ics' that people might be talking about years down the road.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Project Gotham Racing 4

Overall: When I first tossed PGR 3 into my Xbox 360 a couple years ago, I was floored by how polished and fun that game was. I was one of the few people that had never played this series before, as I stuck to the more Forza-style of racing game. I just found PGR 3 the perfect balance between the arcade style racing game and more 'sim-style' (such as Forza or Gran Turismo) racing game. The only problem I had with that game, and for this genre in general, is the repetitive nature of the single-player game. While Project Gotham Racing 4 tries to change up the single-player experience in this release, it still comes off as repetitive and might even turn some people off to the game. And the addition of motorcycles really didn't do much for the gameplay either. So what we have here is PGR 3 with a new, fresh coat of paint and a lot of weather effects.

Gameplay: As I stated, the single player side of PGR 4 is spend in the new career mode. This mode is a bit different than most career modes in racing games. It's built around going through a 'season' much like in Nascar racing. For each tournament that you participate in, you gain points depending on how you do in the tourney. The better you do, the more points you get. As you go through seasons, you move up the rankings and eventually become the #1 ranked racer in the world. Along the way, you ac@!%#*!ulate tons of the game's trademark (Kudos, of course) that you can spend in the shop to purchase new cars, tracks, etc.

I will give Bizzare Creations credit for trying something different here, but it doesn't really make a repetitive career mode structure any better & there are some people who will really NOT like this. The main difference is that you can't go back and redo races after you have finished them. You can in the arcade mode, but not in career mode. So for you guys who loved to do a race and then give it another shot on a higher difficulty after, you might get irritated with this. I actually found it nice to have it this way, but I really didn't like it enough to forget about the fact that I am still going from race to race just like in PGR 3.

And due to how the mode is structured, you don't even have to win many races to move up in the rankings. You could just finish 2nd, 3rd or whatever you wanted and you still get points. Sure it would take you longer to move up in the ranks, but you will move up steadily. The game also really pushes you past the need to use the lower ranked cars in the game. I have used maybe ten cars and motorcycles total in my whole time playing the game. Oh and about those motorcycles.....

This was an obviously much-talked about addition to this game, but I didn't really think it changed the game all that much. Sure it was fun to use them, at first, but I liked using the cars better. The funny part is trying to see how much it takes to actually knock someone off their bike. I would sideswipe walls many times only to keep on driving. It almost takes someone running you down or you going face first into a wall going about 80 mph to get you off your bike. While that is kinda nice due to how people would smash you all over the track online, it's very unrealistic. And the only real advantage of using the bikes is the huge acceleration and nice cornering, but they lose on any track that has long straight aways due to the lower top speed. In general, they are fun to use but don't bring a whole lot to the game.

Another addition is the new weather effects. Now these actually DO change the way the game is played quite drastically. They also look fantastic, but more on that later. As you are playing through the game, you will run into different kinds of weather that really change the way you race and even what car you should use. If you try taking a hard-to-handle, low-grip car out on an icy are going to be in trouble. I think the coolest effect are the puddles you hit while going along that make your car hydroplane when you aren't expecting it. It can really change a race, as the CPU (and other humans, obviously) can catch up quite quickly if you go into a wall due to hitting a large puddle at 150 mph.

As usual, the online play is pretty good and will keep you busy for awhile if you get into it. You can also take pictures and have them rated online. You can do the same with video replays. And you can't beat walking into your garage and finding a new 'Geometry Wars' game to play. Of course, it kicked my @ss more than 'Evolved' did. Here's hoping the game comes to XBLA soon.

Graphics: As for the visuals, the new weather effects look outstanding. The rain, in particular, is absolutely distracting as you watch it on your hood. The game, as a whole, looks very nice. It's not the jump in quality I was hoping for, but the game looks nice overall. The cars could use a little more work and will we ever get real damage on these vehicles?!! The cities also looked good, but a lot of the time, I felt like I was playing PGR 3 again due to some of the same tracks making another appearance here.

Audio: The audio in the game is somewhat disappointing. The sound of the cars and the effects while racing are all solid, as usual. My problem is with the music selection. Now while I am happy we don't get the "we sell our souls to the devil to get crappy licensed pop-punk & crap hip-hop" kind of soundtrack that EA keeps shoving down our throats in the Burnout of myriad of mediocre sports games they release, I wouldn't mind a FEW catchy tunes tossed in there. I know a lot of people have praised the audio in this series due to the 'fun' of listening to a 'Disturbed' song one minute and then a cl@!%#*!ical music song the next, but I wasn't impressed. I wasn't impressed with this area in PGR 3 either, so it's not just this game.

Suggestions: I hope that Bizzare Creations really finds a way to shake this series up with the next game. And if they can't, I hope they stop making these games. It's not like this is not a quality game, but I got the feeling with PGR 4, that Bizzare was in 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' mode here. I know they restructured the career mode, but it's not any better and not much different. The addition of motorcycles was nice, but has minimal impact on the game itself. The weather effects are great, but I need more than that to get me to drop another $60 on a sequal. Bizzare Creations has created a great racing game series that manages to perfectly blend the arcade and 'sim' styles of racing, but the series is starting to feel stale. Hopefully the next game will change that feeling.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Grand Theft Auto IV

Overall: Hype can sometimes be a tough thing. In the world of video games, there is no other franchise that is more hyped than the Grand Theft Auto games. To be fair, however, Rockstar usually delivers when it releases a GTA game. I haven't been as big a fan of the other GTA games as many other people have, but I still find them fun and definately worth playing. The hype surrounding this game was beyond crazy. And then after many, many major publications/websites gave the game perfect scores.....well, yea my expectations were through the roof. Unfortunately, the game didn't live up to that '10' score that many reviewers gave it. But like the other games in the series, it's still fun and definately worth playing.

Gameplay: If you have played any of the past three Grand Theft Auto games, then you will know what you are in for when it comes to gameplay. The storyline is actually pretty good this time around, well at least for the first part of the game. After several hours into the story, you are basically running around doing errands and being a 'hitman' of sorts for all kinds of underworld crime bosses. The Irish, Blacks, Hispanics, Italians, and even your fellow Russians have people for you to go @!%#*!@!%#*!inate or other tasks that are very similar to what you have been doing in the last three GTA games.

That's not to say the game is not fun, because it is. It has that same addictive nature as the last few games. The problem I have with it is that it gets VERY repetitive & apparently Rockstar really couldn't come up with much else to do all these years. Sure it's fun to go play darts, shoot pool, bowl, go out on a date, etc. You can even watch TV for as long as you want while sitting in your apt./safehouse. It's those little touches are what makes GTA 4 get a score above an '8', in my book.

As I was saying, however, there isn't much to do in the way of missions except for running around killing everyone you are told to kill by whomever is paying you to do so. Some of the missions are quite aggravating due to the horrible 'aiming while driving', shooting sequences. But other than that, it's mostly just meeting with your 'boss', then driving to destination on mini-map, and killing the little red dot. Then you get paid. That's pretty much the bulk of the game. Now the beginning and the end are actually pretty cool and give the story it's meat.

The game is very fun, but this series needed more of an overhaul. This just feels like Rockstar perfecting everything about the last three games (including the new aiming controls, which are WAY better) and adding in some new little things, like I mentioned before. Sure it's fun to get a call from one of your 'friends' (another new feature), pick him up and head out to a strip club to get a lap dance.......but it gets old after a couple times and really doesn't add THAT much to the game.

If you did like the last three GTA games, you will probably like this one. And you will might even like it more than the last ones, but it's not a revolutionary game or anything close.

Graphics: One thing that really bugged me about the last couple GTA game were the visuals. It was clearly an aging graphic engine, and thankfully Rockstar really did a good job with the visuals in GTA 4. Some of the characters do look and animate a bit goofy and there are a lot of things in the enviroment that look 'last-gen', but the game looks great as a whole. The city is absolutely huge and looks outstanding at certain times of the night. You will get nice touches like thunderstorms and rain, which both look great.

I should mention that I did run into some pop-up and draw-in at times and it happened right next to my character a couple times. That shouldn't be happening on a system like the Xbox 360 & this far into the system's lifecycle, but it wasn't anything that ruined the game for me.

Audio: This is going to be shocking to type, but I am actually somewhat disappointed by the audio in this game. The voice acting is all very good and actually hilarious in some cases. It really saves the audio score for me. I was very disappointed in the selection of music here, though. I remember driving around in GTA 3, listening to the soundtrack to the movie 'Scarface'. Or doing a drive-by shooting in Vice City while laughing with some Phil Collins on the radio. I didn't really have any of those moments here in this game. I did find it hilarious when the song that the serial killer from 'Silence Of The Lambs' listens to in that creepy scene (if you know what I am talking about, yea it's creepy as hell) popped on the radio in GTA 4. The song is also in a hilarious scene in 'Clerks 2' invoving Jay & Silent Bob, for you movie-buffs out there.

Suggestions: What I would like from the next game in this series is something completely different. I don't want to spend another 30-40 hrs. driving around a huge city being a errand boy for every gang in the city. Each game in this series has to live up to a crazy amount of hype, and it's not like this game is not fun or worth owning. I am very glad I purchased this and it will probably keep me busy for quite some time. But I can only play this for a couple hours and then I get bored. It's because the gameplay is repetitive and the story takes a backseat to that repetitive gameplay after the first part of the game. That's a shame because I really liked the story towards the start of the game.

If you are looking for a really kick-@ss version of the last three games in the series and fancier visuals, then this is your game. If you didn't really like the other GTA games, then I wouldn't bother with this one either. Either way, I would give it a rent and find out for yourself.

Overall Score: 8.5 / 10

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