Hopefully there is not anything important in your life going on, because once you pick up Rockstar’s newest hit, Bully, you will not put it down. From the makers of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto series, Bully uses the same graphical and controls engine but is otherwise completely dissimilar. With great graphics, high-quality voice acting, a banging soundtrack and awesome gameplay Bully slaps a kick-me sign on your back and takes you for a kick-ass ride.

Playing as Jimmy, a troublemaking but not particularly bad kid who is sent to a boarding school known for its troublemaking kids, Bullworth Academy. Right away Jimmy gets beset by a group of bullies, but fortunately Jimmy has some fighting skills of his own. Being only a 15 year old kid, at school, Jimmy has to go to class, there he learns how to taunt and insult people and get out of trouble (English class), acquires stink bombs, itching powder and other projectiles (Chemistry), fighting moves (Gym) or how to attract girls to kiss (Art.) As the game goes on, Jimmy takes several more classes, each with their own various upgrades and benefits.

Jimmy goes up against the various cliques in school, from the geeks and preps to the jocks and the greasers Jimmy takes them all on in his attempt to unite the school behind one person, him. It is not easy though, between the cliques, school prefects who are looking for even the slightest infraction and police officers in town there is always someone ready to haul Jimmy in and bust him. Fortunately, Jimmy has some tools at his disposal, (the stink bombs, firecrackers, potato gun etc.) that he acquires along the way as well as his skateboard which he always carries and can use at any time. Even though he cannot drive a car, Jimmy can grab any of the bikes that people have left all over town and use those to get around as well.

With a ton of missions the game is relatively linear, although, like the GTA franchise there are plenty of interesting and fun side missions and tasks that provide a nice break from the story. The storyline itself is interesting and fun, with plenty of challenges and as you succeed through the game you will find trophies commemorating your success in Jimmy’s dorm room.

Unlike GTA though, Jimmy has limits, he’s only a 15 year old after all, if Jimmy is not in bed by 1 AM, he’ll pass out, no matter what he’s doing. Attack adults and you’ll have the cops on you right away, start bothering some of the girls and you’ll be in a world of trouble. Do not worry though, so long as Jimmy is not fighting the girls there is a good chance they’ll find him attractive. Once that happens, Jimmy finds a myriad of girls who are down for some kissing action. Kissing girls restores health and hey, its fun. Rockstar is not homophobic either; certain guys around campus and Jimmy have a connection too and are ready for some smooch action.

Utilizing the control and graphical engines from the GTA series, anyone familiar with those games will find it extremely easy to navigate their way through the game, and if you are unfamiliar it will not take long.

Unlike most of Rockstar’s games, Bully does not feature a time-specific soundtrack. Featuring all original musical compositions with upbeat guitars and drums the music is never the main focus but always adds to the game. It also furthers the notion that the time period of the game is never fully determined, it could be now, it could 30 years ago, it could be anytime which only adds to the quality of the game.

Graphically the world is highly rendered, with even more detail than the GTA environs, albeit in a much smaller scale. While the world itself is smaller, the detail is exquisite and the action is much closer. Even more the different areas each of their own characters and personalities and of course, the Rockstar sense of humor. Whether its creeping around the mental hospital, hanging out at in the rich part of town or going down by docks of the industrial zone, each sector of the world gets its moments and has plenty for you to do.

Bully is one of the best games of 2006 and one of the best for the PS2 to ever come out, it is addictive and it is enjoyable and you will love it. You’ll find yourself pining for it when you cannot play and wanting more and more when you are. With plenty of gameplay hours in it to keep you entertained and the always fun possibility of 100 percenting the game you’ll stay involved even after you have finished the story. The graphics are high quality; the soundtrack rocks and this game will push you to the ground, steal your lunch money and keep you coming back for me. Play it right now.

Gameplay: 9.9
Graphics: 9.7
Sound/Music: 9.7
Overall: 9.8
Learning Curve: approximately 10-20 minutes

Bully is available exclusively for the PS2 and is available everywhere now.