Canis Canem Edit
Bully! That was the original title of Canis Canem Edit, a change which not only showed Rockstar folding for the unnecessary negative PR of a couple of frustrated teachers, but also that they tend to take into account the opinion of the larger audience. Did they also show that games can’t be art, but are purely consumer products like shampoo and salami?
I’ll leave that ethical discussion in the middle here, but I do have to say I’m disappointed in the so-called rebels of the game development industry. Are they after all only after some good old controversy to sell a couple of extra games? You could almost think so.
They don’t need it though. Bully is more than strong enough to stand its ground. The storyline surpasses the leafs normally used to hang around an open-world game, and the original location, a boarding school, succeeds easily to create a unique attraction in which it’s nice to play and learn.
Jimmy gets left by his mom at Bullworth Academy where he’s got to stay for a year while mommy and stepdad travel around the world. As always when you arrive in a new class, Jimmy is a bit unconfident and your first mission will be to make a name for yourself and being in a good book with the different types of scholars (tough guys, nerds, popular chicks, etc). Teachers and other employees are nicely cliché but that makes the story recognisable and refreshing.
Just like in a real boarding school you start in the morning with the classes and also get a second hour of teaching in the afternoon. In the evening it’s time for relaxation before you have to get into bed, with your hands above the pillows. For those that dare and can avoid the necessary guards you can stay up until 2AM, but then you get teleported to the bedroom without discussion.
In class things are equally fun as outside though. In the gym you can learn new fighting moves, English class teaches you new excuses and during Chemistry you learn how to make a stinky bomb. Next to that you also get BMX-ing during technical education and you can follow photography in the art class. All these in reality consist of mini-games and if you’ve finished all five levels you won’t be punished anymore to skip that class and are also a lot of attacks, items and moves richer. Learning is good for you! Who would have though to get that message from Rockstar?
After class you can concentrate on the missions and the storyline in which you have to take on a new group of school. You’re the cool dude and will have to use your handyness, intelligence and brains to defeat the leaders. Some fun examples are sneaking in with the girls, working together with the nerds to bully the tough guys, helping a drunk teacher English or stealing some clothes. As you see, the missions are very varied and not of the kind you’ve done a thousand times already.
Of course there’s also some fighting to be done but you wont’ find any bazookas or uzis at the academy. What you will find in the pockets of your pants are catapults, stinky bombs, itchy powder and a potato canon! The combat system is friendly with a handy lock-on, but you also have some other possibilities like grabbing your opponents, blocking, and hitting high and low.
Graphically, Bully isn’t the leader of the pack but we can hardly put that against our friend. The Playstation2 is technically loosing its breath compared to the younger garde, but when it comes to animation inspiration and creative cut-scenes the game doesn’t disappoint. The same goes for the sound with good viocing and suitable music.
Canis Canem Edit is not quite the game we had expected. The gameplay is rock solid and the controverse meter remains between innocent and some fighting. Thanks to the wide variety of missions, the fun story and the well worked out characters everyone looking for an original game with the necessary freedom will no doubt find his/her thing. The somewhat less advanced technical finishing is easily covered with the love we have for the game.