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Nov. 4, 2006
Canis Canem Edit (aka Bully) - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
27/10/2006Take TwoRockstar Vancouver1MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
271KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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Disaster in the science lab.
In case you are unaware Canis Canem Edit is Bully. Rockstar changed the name for Europe and Australia, but left the somewhat controversial name for the American market. Why did it change you ask? We don't know for sure, but it's almost certainly due the uproar the game was starting to generate from those seeking unwarranted attention. In fact the bruhaha started almost as soon as the game was announced, and well before anyone had actually seen it in action. Still, I can understand why it generated some controversy (hell, any publicity is good publicity though right).

The premise revolves very much around bullying on a school grounds, and surrounding suburbs. We can tell you though that Canis Canem Edit is surprisingly tame. Yes, there is taunting of students, there is some violence and the occasional bit of low-level swearing, but there's no blood, the range of weapons is limited and there's nothing here that anyone reading this wouldn't have experienced in real life. I guess that's why the game has only received an M rating here in Australia.

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Lining up a food fight!
So what's it about then? Well Canis Canem Edit takes place at fictitious Bullworth Academy, a corrupt and crumbling cross between a boarding school for rich kids and a reform school for delinquents. As a troublesome schoolboy Jimmy Hopkins, you’re the newcomer with a bit of a reputation. Your mother has just dropped you off at the gates to the school on her way for a year long honeymoon with her new husband. As Jimmy you'll have to not only watch out for you teachers but also stand up to bullies, play pranks on kids, try to win the hearts of the girls, and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the fictitious reform school, Bullworth Academy, and the surround streets.

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Looks like the mascot is in trouble.
Developed at Rockstar Vancouver Canis Canem Edit is basically a free roaming third person action title in a similar vein to Grand Theft Auto (indeed the game runs off a modified GTA engine). It's true that the game world is quite a bit smaller, although it's not so small that you feel restricted. Bullworth Academy is made up of several buildings including the school building which includes classrooms and the principal's office, girls dormitories, boys dormitories, a gym, library, sports field and surrounding grounds. While you start out on the school grounds after a couple of hours play the game opens up and gives you access to the surrounding suburbs. The school environment is home to several different types of people as well. As is the case in real life you have everyone including jocks, townies, nerds, preppies, greasers and prefects. Each of them will gain or lose your respect depending on your actions in the game.

Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable aspects to this title is the wide rage of activities which Jimmy can take up. This includes trying to impress the girls (and guys), undertaking a paper round, playing arcade games, entering bike races or skateboarding around the town. Perhaps most interesting is the need to attend classes in the school. These play as a series of mini-games but by completing them you will obtain new skills. Pass English and your ability to apologize to enemies (and avoid a beating) is increased, pass science and you'll soon be able to make some Stink bombs or Itching Powder, pass the Art classes and your kissing abilities increase.

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The trusty slingshot.
Canis Canem Edit includes around 50 main missions, and plenty more side missions to keep you occupied with a game time of well over 40 hours, and probably a lot more should you attempt to complete everything in the game. The missions themselves include tasks such as escorting someone past some bullies, locating items around the world, delivering packages, using the slingshot to knock out windows or people, and of course taking on bullies with your fists.

What makes this game so special is the way in which it captures school life. Do you skip classes, avoid the staff patrolling the grounds to spend a bit more time completing a mission, or running riot by breaking into lockers around the school, or perhaps getting into some fights. Naturally kissing plays a part in any teenage life and this game is no different. As you may have read on the internet - yes, you can kiss boys! Hooray for true freedom in games.

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Getting violent.
Where this game absolutely trumps Grand Theft Auto though is with the combat. While you don't have the option to pick up some submachine guns or similar as weapons Jimmy can certainly use his fists. The range of combat moves is pretty impressive, and it's even possible to taunt your opponent as a finishing move. As you progress through the game you will gain a number of items to use including a slingshot, stink bombs, itching powder, and firecrackers.

There are so many other smaller touches and surprises in store too. The game includes a full day/night cycle with times when you should be in class (twice a day), times when you should be in bed asleep and times when you can roam around freely to do missions. Roaming around when you're meant to be in class, or asleep will see school teachers, and later police trying to stop you. Similarly if you're in a fight they'll try to break you up and drag you to the principals office. The game is littered with hidden items too. The game world includes 75 rubber bands to be found, and 25 garden gnomes. It's another way to wast many, many hours in the game. For those that love stats the game, much like GTA has tracking for many of the activities you perform.

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Are those skills real?
One area that did surprise, in a disappointing way, was that Rockstar Vancouver weren't able to remove all the loading in this game as was a big selling point in Grand Theft Auto. The loading occurs when you change from interior to exterior locations or vice versa and also before cut scenes and some missions. They're not earth shattering long at around 15 seconds, but enough that it does become a slight frustration.

Having to attend classes in the game is entertaining for a while, until you skill Jimmy to his full potential then they are put to the wayside. It's a bit disappointing that the developers didn't include more classes even if they didn't have an impact on the gameplay, or give you new items or abilities. The final issue we have with the game is the way in which you earn respect with each of the different groups of students. It has some impact on the game, but not as much as we would have hoped or expected with your respect determined more by the main missions you've completed rather then smaller tasks.

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Jimmy's hiding in the locker.
Graphically Canis Canem Edit, for the most part, manages to impress with a large open world to explore, wonderful locations and some fantastic characters. Artistically the game is impressive. The school looks wonderful, the locations are varied. Jimmy looks as hard as nails, and is animated perfectly too be it for running around, talking in a conversation or while in a fight. The cut-scenes themselves are very impressive. Very well scripted and designed it's often their humour which makes them so special - from the most fearsome telling off from the principal, to some chat between a couple of school kids it's always engrossing.

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Ohhh.. nice flowers.
Rockstar Vancouver have recorded over 39,000 lines of dialogue for use in this game, but to be honest at times we were struggling to determine where they'd used those lines as there was quite a bit of repetition, particularly when you walk around and talk to the other characters in the game world. Jimmy Hopkins has been voices by relative newcomer Gerry Rosenthal, but he has done a wonderful job.

While there are similarities to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series this is quite a different title. It's done on a much smaller scale, but the combat is significantly better, the storyline is stronger and there is plenty more humour. Canis Canem Edit (aka Bully) is certainly worth adding to your PS2 collection this Christmas. Fantastic.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe game is great artistically. Technically solid but not grounbreaking.
SOUNDSpeech is great, can become repetitive. Music and effects also good.
GAMEPLAYWhere this game shines is gameplay - it's so bloody addictive and fun!
VALUENot as long as GTA, but longer then most other games on the market.
OVERALLWhile not quite up there with GTA size and scale, in many ways this title surpasses Rockstar's other efforts. There's a better story, better combat and much more humour. Canis Canem Edit (aka Bully) is certainly worth adding to your PS2 collection this Christmas.

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