bitparade: Canis Canem Edit (PlayStation 2)

Canis Canem Edit, or Bully as the general public know it, has already stifled up alot of controversy because of that particular former title, that Rockstar have decided to still use in the ol’ US of A. It’s actually becoming a case of wondering if Rockstar are actually paying these people to name drop each of their titles in a “All Publicity is good Publicity” manner.

But in Rockstars favour, none of the games that have been criticised by the anti-violent videogames parade have been truly awful. With the Grand Theft Auto being the main series that gets the attention.

Canis Canem Edit is very much GTA “Lite”, it’s not as brutal, the playing area isn’t as big and the characters are much younger, which is unsurprising considering the games setting. But unlike most “Lite” products, the flavour is all there, Canis Canem Edit doesn’t suffer, in fact this particular author feels its a more complete experience than Rockstars seminal series, purely for the fact that its not so big as to make you feel like its impossible to finish. It’s much like dating the stunning but gorgeous Prom Queen, then after that’s finished or she’s dumped you for the latest trendy guy, dating her almost as pretty sister who you can actually hold a conversation with without having to flatter every five seconds, and less likely for you to want to start force feeding her a dozen hamburgers or something.

From the off, you can tell this game is incredibly similar to Rockstars leading franchise, Jimmy has the same attitude and swagger of the lead characters in the Grand Theft Auto series, the missions are along the same lines of “go fetch”, “go fight”, etc. But how it differs is in its structure and in the ways you can get into trouble. Merely staying out past a certain time can have prefects (and even police officers) on your tail, as can truancy.

there’s always something to do. Lessons (as previously mentioned) can be missed as you feel like it, but each time you only delay getting another reward for completing each lesson, you can return to them any time that particular lesson is available (it all works in a similar way to a normal school time table). But each time you attend, and manage to complete the various different mini games that each lesson is made up of (English for example involves you making words out of a certain group of letters, Gym see’s you taking part in wrestling to learn new fighting moves or playing Dodgeball) you are rewarded with various things, as previously mentioned, Wrestling gives you new moves to use when fighting, Shop earns you a new faster, better handling BMX bike to use from the school garage. These also in turn open up new things to do occasionally, for example, unlocking the BMX allows you to partake in bike races in the neighbouring towns. These in turn earn you more and more cash, which you only really need if you’re wanting to collect every single purchasable item in the game, as you earn enough money from missions to buy the odd outfit and haircut, chocolates and flowers for wooing the girls and cans of coke to heal you.

All the controversy surrounding the game would lead you to believe that Canis Canem Edit is a despicable experience that glamorises bullying. All of this has come about because of the games former title and the fact that those in “higher up positions” only really hear what they want to hear, The game tells the tale of a boy who’s been expelled from a number of schools, mainly for violence, being dumped at Bullworth Academy by his money grabbing mother who’s just married another rich man and his heading out on her 58th honeymoon, which happens to be the same length of time as a school year.

Once there, you are befriended by a boy called Gary, who wants to use your strength to bring down the bullies and various factions within the school, as he story progresses though, it seems he was simply using you for his own gain. By the final chapter, the schools in chaos and only the normal final confrontation can fix things.

Surprisingly, the story is quite compelling, and easy enough to imagine going on within any school, you feel increasingly pleased as things seem to be going your way only for it to completely rubber band in the opposite direction. The gangs system of GTA 2 and San Andreas appears in the various forms of the school factions (Jocks, Geeks, Greasers, Preps) and doing one thing for one faction will only piss off another, although each chapter is set out to try and win a particular faction over to your side.

Many will complain that Canis Canem Edit is too short, and compared to its older siblings, this could be seen as true. But with the story complete after around 14 hours and 70% of things done, there’s still plenty there to keep you going for at probably another 6 hours. Enough for anyone to be able to complete it 100% without feeling like your not getting anywhere and getting bored.

If you’re a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, you will have no doubt already have purchased this, if you’re not a fan, I still think this is a worthy purchase, in fact I’d go so far as to say its a better game than the infamous crime-Sim. The smaller elements that bring fun are alot more innocent than they are in GTA, I for one spent alot of my time pinching girls bottoms, snogging girls and waiting for a pupil to enter one of the cubicles in the boys toilets before throwing a firecracker down the neighbouring toilet.

Canis Canem Edit is incredibly well presented and acted, its a really fun game with only two minor niggles, both of which lie with the controller and exist in most games of this type.

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