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About AK-1138

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    Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma
  • Birthday August 1

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  1. Obviously, I trained a highly astigmatic naked mole rat named Viscount Ephialtes von Schlotterstein XXVIII to pick them out of a hat using ki-powered telepathy. The fact that five out of ten of them are among the best games ever made, is a happy coincidence.
  2. Gap Master Right, so I'm the Gap Master... does that make me manager of a Gap outlet store, or the overlord of the outcasts of The Gap from the Beneath a Steel Sky-verse (I really want Beyond on the PS4/5)? Anyways... not at all as bad as I envisioned. The real stumpers were few and far between, and most of those were borne of glitches and poor programming. Playtesting must have been verging on the nonexistent... wish they'd focused on this aspect before chucking reflective shaders everywhere and what-have-you. All too much of the gameplay feels like an afterthought. Pro(skater)tip: Using a Boneless late into your jump will mitigate the difficulty of many of the trickier (meaning, they don't appear to have been designed with the revised physics in mind at all) jumps such as the NY fountain jump or the VB roof gaps. Oh, and obviously, since I'm crazy but not insane, I used the "mods" (they're still cheats to me, damnit!) and consulted both text and video guides. I probably could still do 'em without perfect balancing and the like, but it wasn't enough fun for me to bother.
  3. I have a weird and quirky aversion towards modifying characters' default attire unless it somehow provides suitably agreeable beneficial effects... doubly so when it's something as genuinely iconic (and not forced and stilted Ubisoft Iconic™) as Ezio's whiter-than-a-baby's-conscience robes. Basically... I don't dye. My enemies do.
  4. Platinum #575: Difficulty: 2/10 Playtime: 4-5 hours Enjoyment: 7.5/10 In the quaint little town of Darkestville--famous for being a touch darker than Darkville or Darkerville--there lives a skellington demon man named Cid (no, he doesn't own or operate an airship), who, when he isn't off winning 4th prize in tri-state Haytham Kenway cosplay competitions, terrifies the townsfolk with delightfully devilish japes, pranks, and other assorted jackanapes. Through the vicissitudes of fate, he ends up unleashing a horde of infinitely more terrifying--and, let's face it, infinitely less ineffectual--demons unto our mortal plane... and by way of the time-honored tradition of obscure puzzles and unfettered kleptomania, he must travel to the depths of the Underworld to save everyone... because he'll be damned if anyone terrorizes folks but him! So it's a pretty crackin' good adventure game, all told. Even in the oeuvre of throwback point and clickers, all too rarely emulated is the distinctively lush asymmetrical art style of Curse of Monkey Island (the objectively best MI, as we can all agree), and the end results verge on the impressive for such a small dev team. And that's not all, COMI's indomitably chill vibes are also reflected in the reggae-inflected (if slightly spookified) soundtrack. The writing is just about sharp enough, even if a few jokes fall kind of flat and/or repeat themselves. They don't overdo it with references, be they pop cultural or metatextual. The main focus rests on highlighting character quirks, and a distinctively off-beat and unpredictable sense of humor. We definitely coexist on the same creative wavelength, as I found myself pleasantly surprised with how often my brain would concoct some punchline or other, and the game would arrive at the same exact result. That's the kind of synergy you can't buy. And it's all enhanced by a great voice cast, with particular praise going to Mr. Stephanos Rex (if that is indeed his real name) for not only putting in a shift with the main character, but an eye-watering 20+ others! A really high benchmark of quality; indie or no, it can't be denied. Somewhat patchy and anticlimactic storytelling aside, it's just got this intangible winsome quality that is truly evocative of days long past. The developers' love, passion, and knowledge of the genre is evident from the word go, and though slightly derivative, it never becomes a crutch or a source of creative laziness, as can so easily occur. Just read the game's description on the PS Store and see if you don't feel at least a little bit enticed to buy it. It's even a quick and fulfilling trophy hunt on top of everything else, so be ye a devotee of this hallowed art form or no, it's a good investment that'll be going to talented people. For my own part, this as a self-styled historian and curator of everything adventure gamey, this has my gubernatorial stamp of approval!
  5. It's fitting, because Bethesda belongs in a museum. I'd rather have some remasters of Emperor's Tomb and Staff of Kings.
  6. Pretty sure you can change save slots? You can also back up your save file to a USB (or the PS+ cloud, if you're subscribed). Whichever way you go about it, start a new DLC savegame, get the trophy, and redownload your old save, and you should be pure mithril, mate!
  7. Platinum #574: Difficulty: 2/10 Playtime: 3-4 hours Enjoyment: 5.5/10 The grim spectre of Death itself (hey, I'm not about to assume Death's gender, 'kay?) has come to the quiet retirement village of, umm, Shady Valley or whatever it was... and they ain't here to collect something normalish like stamps, unopened sets of Sylvanian Families, or decanters shaped like Elvis out of whose neckhole you drink. Nope, Death wants SOULS... and, uhh, West Hangleton is full of 'em. But, for no real reason, Death, in its unending magnanimity, allows the residents a chance to--ahem--Dodge their Coffins so long as they can beat him in an elimination-style kart racing tournament! As you do. So basically what I'm saying is, it's another mediocre Mario Kart bootleg. Right, so my first impression of the game is that it must have been programmed by actual senior citizens with calcified ear canals and that, because it has easily the loudest default audio output levels I have ever heard in a game! Even lowering it to level 2 doesn't help much. Under those circumstances, the game is actually pretty good, considering the programmers probably worked on it for three hours a day at best (half of which was spent on the toilet because the human body has some serious design flaws, akin to this very game). Even though this is completely conjectural bullshit to pad out my mini-review here, I'll give 'em an extra half a rating point anyways, 'cause I'm just a wild and crazy guy, I guess! So yeah, it's a janky mess. The controls and physics have no finesse or learning curve to 'em... best you can do is to avoid crashing into things, because, as there is no rubber banding whatsoever, so long as you can just keep your speed up, you'll win 9.93 times out of ten without your competition anywhere in sight when you reach the finish line. Of course, being as this is a broken mockery of good design, this swings the other way as well. Should you fall behind early in the race, you'll have a tough time catching up, and if you're unlucky with what pickups you get, you're unlikely to stand a chance however well you play. Said pickups, too, are largely unreliable; the Uzi in particular has a large chance of not even registering hits when you use it. Oh yeah, and to prevent "cheating", the game doesn't allow you to restart a race, as such... but it does allow you to quit and redo it that way. I know it's easy to miss a spot check or two or twenty-three with deflicted ancient eyes and all that, but, bruh. There's also an EXP system that I never could figure out whether actually had any kind of effect on the game. Best things I can say about it is, it's fun to try and wipe out your competitors with your cane at the start of a race, and on the rare occasions you get zombies in a level (there is no discernible rhyme or reason to 'em) it can be a bit of a dopamine rush to try and run over or shoot them... they result in tons of the aforementioned useless EXP points! As a bit of a crescendo to this game's generally gormless nature... Death will usually comment on your race performance in terms most belligerent. When you play as Death during your second story run, they do the exact same still! Who knew Death was so mercilessly self-critical? It verges on the depressing; almost feel bad for giving them the worst day on the job ever. In summation... on a scale of racing games from The Zoo Race (look it up; thank me later) to Mario Kart, this is about as dead-center middling as you can get. If you're not in it for the trophies (slightly grindier than they need be, but quick and easy overall) you're best served just letting this one rest, in peace. And even if you are, please wait for a sale... these old folks have no use for money anyways; they actually had good and feasible retirement plan arrangements back in their younger days! Haha, we're so screwed, guys! 😶
  8. Platinum #573: Difficulty: 3/10 Playtime: 10-15 hours Enjoyment: 8/10 Right, so it's time to talk about Bugsnax! What is a Bugsnak, you ask? Well, it's not quite a bug, not quite a snack, but mahahahahahahahaaaaannn...! ...So, to answer your question, I don't know. Nevertheless, these tasty-lookin' bug/snack hybrids are the object of the game, as well as the object of desire for Grumpuses, the odd-looking and seemingly invulnerable Muppet-like (don't ask me what a Muppet is... I ain't making that reference twice!) beings what populate Snaktooth Island. Bugsnax just so happen to mutate their bodies into what they've been fed, but they don't care! It's like I said when the first trailer dropped, ain't nothing more next-gen than Australian-accented walrus people with food for hands... which is, of course, why I'm playing it on the PS4. Failure to ascertain one of these goddamn marvels of modern video game engineering has nothing to do with it! So... the gameplay is mostly fun, seeing you identify and capture these abominations of nature with a variety of traps, tools, and condiments with which to lure them. And where state of the art technological advents of Grumpuskind may not, shall we say, avail you, there is always potential for turning Snax against their own kind... wow, you'd think a novel gameplay concept like this could blow up into a worldwide franchise or something. Amazed it ain't happened yet! Still, for all that the proceedings allows for a fair few Eureka moments of clever experimentation, there will be times at which the unfettered sandbox physics will betray you and spoil the fun somewhat. Finding good spots for the tripwire tool can be daunting. And running around on fire again and again can get pretty tiresome. It did help me cheese (no pun intended) a boss one time, but still. Plenty of potential for refinement here; a balance could well have been struck between still allowing for experimentation while giving the player more aid from environs. Where the game really shines is through its surprisingly deep story and characters. Yes, the wacky comedic writing is as sharp as the Grumpuses are cuddly (at least until you turn one into, like, a giant baked potato with carrots for hands or something), but that's only half the story. The multifarious nature of the human experience is made manifest with heart and verve in these little bundles of... something. The inhabitants of Snaxburg are multi-faceted, complex characters with plenty of things to hide (except my boy Chandlo, dawg!), and getting to know them better, warts and all, is a thing of true joy. There's even the odd non-heteronormative romance or two going on, without any hint of tokenism! You know you're onto something when you can make anguished declarations of love resonate even when the person speaking has a potato chip for a nose and a name resembling a Don Martin onomatopoeia. Truly, there is no greater compliment I can give... and we have much to learn from the Grumpuses. Even Beffica! Developers Young Horses display an impressive array of rare and dynamic qualities they should double down on in future, whether through a sequel, or something entirely new, as their potential is vast. Yes, the load times and framerate can be unforgiving, and the objectives HUD is always displayed, to the point of distraction...but Bugsnax comes tantalizingly close to approaching true greatness, and even with some flaws, it's truly a singular experience not to be missed! If something as superlative as this is not among the best PS5 launch titles, I shall be suitably impressed indeed. Give the devs their humble and well-earned recompense, and may you have as a rewarding an expedition to Snaktooth as I! More than a snack, this... a three-course dinner, more like! And I'm already looking forward to a second helping on the PS5...!
  9. In descending order... Tier 💩: Unity Tier C: Origins Odyssey Tier B: Freedom Cry Chronicles * India * China * Russia Liberation ACII Tier A: Revelations Brotherhood Tier S: ACIII Rogue ACIV Syndicate
  10. Platinum 572: A Tale of Paper Difficulty: 2/10 Playtime: 1-2 hours Enjoyment: 7/10 DON'T YA KNOW ME? I'M YOUR PAPERBOY, THROWING BUNDLES OF NEWSPAPER JOY! THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD'S A LOONY BINNNNNN, I'D RATHER THROW THE NEWS IN COMPTON! Ooops, err, wrong paperboy... or more specifically, telepathic humanoid origami bunny man. It might be Frank from Donnie Darko, who knows? And, err, this is his tale, I guess? Oops, did I just assume the gender of a telepathic humanoid origami bunny creature? Whew, this year is starting off on the wrong foot... let's try this again: Ahem. A Cellulose Story is a slightly puzzley 2.5D platformer that sees you traversing a variety of environs on a heavily allegorical quest to somehow fulfill the dreams of your creator. If this doesn't strike you as the most original premise in the world... you wouldn't be wrong. But by way of impressive graphical fidelity and skillful art direction, it creates a pervasive atmosphere that makes it stand out among its peers. It's a shame the overly repetitive (and reverby) musical score isn't held to the same standard. Doesn't make it much further than distracting background noise. Gameplay is pretty fun, granting you a number of transformations with which to traverse and master your surroundings. The large field of view can sometimes make it difficult to see where you are in terms of depth, which combined with a shedload of thin plank-based platforms, can sometimes lead to not fun times. Largely though, it's pretty much a breeze mostly free of undue encumberance. Though a short experience, it strikes an admirable balance between telling a memorable tale, and avoiding the overstaying of its welcome. A balancing act that many before have failed, and many more will again. Definitely more than your average easy platinum game. There's potential here for greater things, and it's impressive to see what the devs achieved on a budget. Though I deem it somewhat more expensive than it's worth, at least the money will be going to people who could do good things with 'em. And hey, how many other games sees you jumpscared by a demonic Roomba?
  11. Platinum #571: Difficulty: 4.5/10 Playtime: 250-300 hours Enjoyment: 9.5/10 So... yeah. Me and this game didn't start off on the best of terms. Blah blah blah, hype, blah blah, overwhelming amounts of content, blah, broken gold medal requirements, blah blah, mental blocks, etc. I had no choice but to just leave it and learn to live with the disappointment, perhaps never to finish it; forever a mocking spectre atop my backlog. Then, this year, I decided to randomly give it a go, and something clicked where it hadn't before. Like the thawing relationship of Arthur and John, I guess we just had to take it slow and let time do its perfect work. Time can steal away happiness, but time can take away grief. Now, I couldn't be happier to have given it a second chance; or, a chance for redemption, if you will. I couldn't think of a better way to round off another great trophy hunting year. Now, my heart will seemingly always belong to the original Redemption. I just think it's more fun to actually play... and no kidding, cheating at poker is half the reason I go back to it every now and then. And the disappointingly laidback and repetitive score feels like a misguided step back from the whiskey-drenched Spaghetti Western garage rock dynamism of the first. But I will say, the perfect Red Dead game probably exists only within the center of a 1-2 Venn diagram, as there are plenty of inspired gameplay innovations I would gladly see implemented into RDR1. That's as it should be. Though initially hesitant towards many of the changes made from game to game, eventually I learned to admire and respect the developers' attempts to make the two feel unique yet familiar. Once you just learn to slow down and breathe in time with the deliberately slow and atmospheric pace of RDR2, it truly is an amazing experience not to be missed. Hands down one of the most luscious and beautiful game worlds ever created, and given such polish as to hardly ever break its beguiling spell through technical mishaps. Truly staggering for a world of this ambition and scope... even the arduous temerity of some of the more exotic tasks like hunting birds is mitigated by the sheer beauty of it all. My biggest problem from a design perspective is the lack of any meaningful in-game method of finding the all-too-copious collectibles; I realize it's a problem many games have, but especially here it's an unnecessary break in immersion to look stuff up on the internet... and let's face it, you did it too! Ain't nobody can do something as inintuitive as this blind, sure as shootin'! The writing and worldbuilding is another high watermark for Rockstar. The stars of one of the greatests casts in video game history, our inexplicably lovable gang of outlaws are filled with nuances and hidden depths, ensuring investment into their trials and tribulations from beginning to end. An emotional rollercoaster in its own right, and one that further compounds the events of RDR1 in surprising and satisfying ways. I usually don't care much for prequels--the ink is dry, and all that--but this is truly one that makes it count. Tell you what, I could sit here all night and wax lyrical about this singular experience, but you've really got to experience it for yourself. Even the multiplayer portion was a lot of fun, just the thing for me and my proclivity towards grinding and collecting things. I even went the extra mile and completed the compendium just for added catharsis factor! That last ride I had just traveling through the world, compass disabled, paying tribute to the fallen ones with a dram of whiskey, is a special memory I will treasure forever. Its meticulously measured charms are not for everyone (as indeed it wasn't for me for almost two years there) but I'm beyond thankful I was able to somehow get over myself and enjoy it for what it is. Now all that need happen is for a certain young Mr. Marston to get his own redemption... God willing, may we all meet again in Red Dead Redemption III: The Search for Jack Marston's Meaning in Life! And have a Happy New Year, you filthy animals!
  12. Platinum #570: Difficulty: 5.5/10 Playtime: 45-50 hours Enjoyment: 7.5/10 So here we are at the ol' trilogy capper! Never played it proper back in the day... for no real reason, really. I seem to remember being on a mad RPG binge around '04-ish so that might explain it. Anyways, it just never happened... until now, that is! Can it close out the trilogy on a high? Well, you already saw the Enjoyment Score up there, so suffice to say... nah. More than anything, San Andreas comes across as a bit of a desperate attempt at shaking up the status quo with new mechanics that turn out half-baked more often than not. The light RPG/simulation aspects in particular feel tacked on just for the sake of applying a new paint of coat, and mostly get in the way of the fun. The relationship stuff is so repetitive and grindy I didn't even bother after half an hour. And even though the controls are a lot better than before, the game contains some of the most frustrating and poorly designed missions in the series (as well as some of the best ones, credit where it's due!) that stops your sense of progression (and enjoyment) dead in its tracks for almost every third mission played. Though, speaking of tracks... I actually found the infamous "follow the damn train" mission (one of the only things from this game I was aware of beforehand) to be deceptively easy. And the less said about the needlessly large and hard-to-traverse game world, the better. I gotta give Rockstar some plaudits for being at least somewhat aware of their increasingly tired formula, but this is not the way to brighter future. The franchise's original sin of bogging down their games with simulation and po-faced "realism" began here, which eventually killed my interest in the series altogether. Just not what I want out of my grand and thefty autoing. The Spike Lee-esque early '90s gangland setting is not really my bag at the best of times, not at all helped by the writers' lamentable failure at trying to inject some heart and emotional depth to the story told. Honestly, that kind of thing is just fundamentally incongruous to the spirit of the series in my view, and comes off as both inept and disingenuous, at least with this attempt. The genuine pathos of Red Dead Redemption still feels as far away and unlikely as in III. Not that it really matters or nothing, but it also feels somewhat uncomfortable playing a game involving corrupt police officers, riots, and gang wars when so very little has changed in almost thirty years. Maybe I'm just too much of a comparatively sheltered white boy to be able to relate too much to the goings-on, I don't know. At its core though, it's still business as usual, and it's a credit to the solid FUNdamentals of the series that I still enjoyed it a lot despite my misgivings. Cheating at the triathlon thingy was genuinely one of my most thrilling gaming moments of the year. Playing it also inspired me to finally finish up my '90s Spotify playlist, which really came in handy when transporting cars around the excessively large game world, lemme tell ya! I'm very thankful you don't have to 100% it for the platinum, because that would be actual hell... and grinding those kills--especially when your game crashes from time to time, ruining your progress--already is not a walk in the park. I've kinda had my fill of GTA for the time being, but if fancy takes, I'll probably do the PS3 stack down the line, as I hear it's a lot less frustrating. After all, time has already softened my opinion of the game... that score wasn't always 7.5, my dude! Overall, I'm pretty impressed with how well the trilogy holds up so many years later, and you kind of owe it to yourself to take a deep dive into one of the most influential series of games ever. Largely, it was a joyride with emphasis on the joy.
  13. Platinum #569: Difficulty: 5.5/10 Playtime: 30-40 hours Enjoyment: 9/10 One of the longest gestating trophy hunts of my life, at some 5+ years, concluded today... and I wasn't even holding my controller when it popped! I'm not saying I've mastered the art of telekinesis or anything, but...! Yeah, it's a little ironic that I should take such time with such a beloved game, but the whole criminal rating stuff really put me off for years and years. Small matter now I'm the finally the Kingpin! I'd best invest in some anti-anthropomorphic arthropod security measures, post-haste! Yeah, so Vice City is something pretty special to me, so my going off on a perfunctory nitpicky tangent ain't happening tonight. Those crazy neon-streaked nights of murder, debauchery, and tunes with a capital "Ch" helped turn me into an '80s devotee for life, even moreso than before. Everything is taken a step further than GTA3, in a much more confident and adept manner. It is very much the best kind of sequel, and as close as any GTA will ever come to being a masterpiece, I'd wager. The most impressive improvement of all, considering Rockstar's chequered history of said, is the perfectly measured writing, mixing pastiche and satire with a genuinely entertaining rags-to-riches crime story that never takes itself too seriously. Rockstar's penchant for psychopathic neurotic assholes couldn't be a better match for that infamously "snowy" decade of yore. It's the best Scarface game we'll ever get. For once... it just works. The radio skits, in particular, are a howling delight, evoking the more negative aspects of the values of the age--for better or worse--without ever descending into directionless misanthropy for its own sake. As a game, it is much less broken than 3, but also slightly more genuinely challenging to make up for it. Some poorly implemented mechanics still remain, and you will die an unfair death or two or seventy-three... but I managed to do this one cheat-free without too much hassle, and that about says it all. In fact, this is the first time I've ever completed the thing to a hundred percent; my previous playthroughs (on PC) were hampered by save file corruptions that prevented the game from launching. Whether rising through the ranks through the game's inspired and varied set of missions, or just pissing about on a scooter blasting "Self Control", Vice City remains a high watermark of sandbox gaming, and a pitch-perfect period piece on top. As big as '80s nostalgia is right now, few things have come as close to the real thing... or at least, what media tells us the '80s were like! Man, I bet people playing their Degenatrons back in 'day never saw something like this coming, eh?
  14. Platinum #568: Difficulty: 5/10 Playtime: 30-40 hours Enjoyment: 8.5/10 Here it is... the Sand(box)daddy of 'em all... well, at least the one that popularized this design ethos that is as relevant now as it was then, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Got more nostalgic memories than I can count, not least because it was one of the few games that my "cooler" schoolmates were playing at all. None of us had a memory card, though, so we had to play the opening mission about six million times one summer. I never even managed to get to the second island before Vice City came out and everyone moved on! Yes, it's truly amazing how your brain can generate nostalgia even for games predicated on brutal fucking murder and other proactive sociopathy. Felt like playing it outta nowhere (already owned it as part of the Trilogy bundle) so here we are. Even with the aforementioned inexorable nostalgia blinders, GTA3 has held up exceptionally well in my view. Its brash and confident scope is still impressive, and like all classic works, it feels like it's always existed. 99.3% of all open world games since owes it a debt of incalculable gratitude, and that says a whole lot. Sure, the controls aren't always the most accommodating, and there's plenty of frustrating mechanics, but once you get settled into the flow of things, it's still a great time to be had as a pure sandbox game, with a variety of things to do. Plot is decidedly its weakest point. Even as an unapologetic hodgepodge of superior pop culture derivaton, it's a flat and exploitative crime story mostly devoid of story progression or beats. A silent protagonist in a game like this is a poor choice at the best of times. It's not quite an excuse plot, but it's ballpark. Inasmuch as my dislike of the series post-San Andreas is well documented elsewhere, those games at least certainly aren't written as dryly as this one. Honestly, you might as well skip this whole aspect of the game... I certainly felt like doing it before long. Oh, and full disclosure; this game is almost broken if you try to get the trophies without cheats. Sad, but true. It wasn't a walk in the park even with 'em. I tend to keep things clean even with the option available, but this is just too much. Timed side missions, fragile vehicles, and unpredictable traffic do not make for a pleasurable challenge sandwich. Props to the people what made it without, but it's not for me. Hell, if cheats disabled trophies, I probably would have just played the PC version. Forgive me, but I didn't do anything wrong, so sue me! It does seem somewhat like my criticisms outnumber my compliments, but like I said, when you're just playing and vibin' to the game's collection of crackin' tunes, it's still as fresh an experience as it was almost twenty years ago, and finally finishing the thing to 100% was immensely cathartic for someone who never got far back in 'day. Maybe I'm just protected by calloused nostalgia and all that, but it's still a massively enjoyable game to play, even if its immediate successor would pretty much improve upon anything and everything. But that's another story for another time... (Just noticed this was my 666th post! Fitting, considering how many moral guardians proclaimed this the work of the devil back in the day. Go deepthroat a flamethrower, Jack Thompson! 😈)
  15. Platinum #567: Difficulty: 3.5/10 Playtime: 20-25 hours Enjoyment: 7.5/10 Better known as Canis Canem Edit in my part of the world, though what they edited out is anyone's guess 😏 But what's in a name, right? That which we call a slightly toned down boarding school GTA, by any other name, would still be about as much fun as you'd expect. This one passed me by way back when, but I'm a sucker for a game with seasonal settings (my playing it during Christmas was no coincidence) and it's kind of been my year for a good Rockstar game anyways. More to follow, on that score... So yeah, Bully is a lot more fun than the real thing. Its chief conceit sees the GTA sandbox formula deftly melded with inspired outside-the-box mechanics like school classes and curfews. Armed with an exotic arsenal of prank weapons that'd make Bluto Blutarsky cream his toga, it's up to you to help our inexplicably likeable anti-hero James Cuthbert Hopkins navigate the choppy waters of cliques, corrupt teachers, and townie dropouts... and restore some semblance of stability to the volatile melting pot of higher education that is Bullworth Academy and the surrounding town. Plot is a bit of a letdown, though. The mission intro and cutscene banter is on point, but the focus on the main plot isn't great, to the point of being underwritten and underwhelming. And like pretty much any Rockstar game, the mission pretexts can become somewhat flimsy and repetitive, as can the seemingly prerequisite relentless misanthropy. Less is more, as they say. I'm not seeing a dev team learning much from their flaws here... and RDR is just some scant four years away! And boy, I gotta tell ya... I hate it when a game railroads you into a canon romance, especially when you've got a top tier classy lass like Beatrice in your game! And I'm not even the type to care much for shipping and the like... No joke, it tends to actually play better than the vaunted trilogy of games from which it was spawned. The controls are slightly less stiff, and they seem to have got most of the more janky mechanics out of the way at this point, resulting in much fewer bouts of design-induced frustration. Though the smaller game world allows for a lot less emergent gameplay than you'd expect, tightening in other areas such as missions and side quests makes this a mostly negligible issue. It's not as if the formula wasn't ready for a shakeup anyways. Though still a fun and solid game experience, Bully doesn't quite get top marks in terms of capturing the potential of its novel concept, and thus I am still waiting for a game that truly captures my memories of boarding school. It rests a smidgeonette too slovenly on the laurels of the increasingly stagnant GTA formula to earn too many plaudits for ambition or originality. And dude... where's my Beatrice?