Ever since School Shootings made headlines in the late 90’s continuing to the year 2000 and following all the way up until now, violence has been towed through media on a short lease. This year alone, we have already had many high attention school violence incidents in this country and also in others, more famously in Montreal. In the past month there was an incident not far from my home in Delaware in the Amish Country of neighboring Lancaster, Pennsylvania; in this incident a sick man decided to kill some innocent female students. Like it or not, incidents such as this and the most notorious of all school violence incidents – Columbine, are headling grabbing and make those who do not understand video games and the nature of todays adjustments to viewing and playing violent entertainment titles, have something to aim the blame at.
Shortly before the release of Rockstar Games latest title, Bully, A Florida Attorney, Jack Thompson, went to a judge trying to ban the release from sale to teenagers, though he eventually failed, he made the statement that this game is a “Columbine Simulator.” Though I was not a student at Columbine, I am a friend and Co-worker to one of the people to come out of the Massacre, survivor and activist Brooks Brown (D-Fens to our FLH viewers). Recently Brooks wrote his thoughts on the game in the form of a review, and those can be seen directly bellow this review.
As a friend of Brooks, I know he is an avid gamer and is really involved in the School Violence/Media debate scene, having appeared in Michael Moore’s award winning documentary BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE battling Kmart and ultimately helping to eliminate the sale of bullets from the store, appearing on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX,MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, basically all the major American media outlets, and he even wrote a book about Columbine, “No Easy Answers.” Brooks lived through Columbine. for those who want to know his story buy his book. His thoughts come from two different perspectives; the survivor and the gamer, but wined up at the same conclusion, The Game is flat out Great!
Is the game a “Columbine Simulator”? Well, technically Yes, But if it is to be considered a Columbine Simulator, it must also be considered a St. Elizabeth Elementry School Simulator, or a Edison Academy Simulator, or a Joe Blow Boarding School in Butthole, Illinois, because in the end the series of events and storylines in this game are the same you will find in any school in America. The game almost feels like it was ripped directly out of our collective childhood school experiences and put on top of the Grand Theft Auto Engine. Is it a Columbine shooter? Not in the sense that many would think because of the alternative meaning of Columbine Highschool, but it is also plainly A VIDEO GAME. That is how it should be looked at, not politically but from an entertainment perspective.
The Game is simply terrific in almost every aspect, From the graphics, the playability, the movements, the music and the adaptation. The Graphics are nothing ground breaking but they are simply top-knotch and some of the best a PS2 can derive. The Playability of the game is phenomenal, as is the case with most Rockstar Releases. The open roaming environment is one of the best aspects of the companies games and it continues with this release, starting off with a restricted access world, as the game continues on you earn new turf to play through, making the game so much more entertaining and at times addictive. Just as the game gets a little repetitive, new areas are opened up making way for a new injection of fun into the game. The worlds are vast and with that the player will need to take it easy on the feet – thus comes the usage of Skateboards, Bikes, Motorcycles, Cars, and Mopeds. These tools really make the game even better because instead of walking over vast lands and nearly being caught by your shirttail by a prefect, you can escape quicker and get to where you are going faster.
The game continues in typical Rockstar format, as there are main missions, there are also optional objectives and submissions. So if you are getting bored with the Main Objectives you can go ahead and do something else, like deliver food, run errands, break into lockers, be a bodyguard. Or even….go back to class?
There are so many features in the game it is almost difficult to break down the game because you don’t want to leave anything out (thus why we did 2 reviews), Other great features about the game include the characters, who all bring different personalities to the game from a Big Ape of a bully to the resident Hobo, to yes, a Lunch Lady!
One of my favorite features of the game is the Music Score. The music goes extremely well with game play and is actually very simplistic, a far cry away from the million dollar soundtracks in the latest version of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. This Music brings you into the world you knew as a kid, the soundtrack that would play in your head, a soundtrack without words, music. I feel like I am wrapped inside a Teenbased Disney Movie at some points listening to this soundtrack, I feel at any given moment my pet alien will gravitate my bike and I will flyer over the moon. (10 nerd points for me throwing in an ET throwback)
Many outsiders take the game from a literal standpoint based off the title, the misconception is that the main character is a bully and all you do is go around and beat up defenseless nerds and women, this could not be further from the truth. As you play the game you can (as ironically life is) go either two ways, the path of the righteous man or the path of the wicked man; You can be either a Bully or a Protector. As did Brooks, I took the path of the righteous man and became the savior of the nerds. The Media world perceives games to be either EVIL or useless, they never look at it from a positive perspective, this game could actually work as therapy to children who are bullied – this can be clearly seen in the fact that with great ability to be evil, comes a warning that if you do bad you will be punished, this is seen in the feature “Detention.” When you do bad you serve it, as you would in any school. You do the crime, you do the time.
Another misconception about the game is that, all it is about is Killing people and objectifying women and children. There is no massive bloodshed or death in this game, infact even when you fight, the end result is nothing more than a NPC rolling around on the ground in agony. There is no use of deadly weapons in this game, rather in place of a gun, is the less harmful SlingShot. So members of the media, what is this game teaching our children, to play with a Slingshot instead of a gun? I’d rather take my chances with the first.
The Bottom Line: EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! Rockstar games creates another terrific game. Hands down one of the best games of the year, A thorough and intelligent game, mixing the best of both worlds in the action and adventure genre’s. Who thought, a game named Bully wouldn’t need tons of Blood and Death to work?! The Media and Mr. Thompson are blowing smoke up your ass if they want you to really think this game is dangerous, as the judge ruled guys, Its not more violent than turning on the TV. Pick this Game up, and for a continuation please read BROOKS personal review below!