Knocking out a ‘Bully’ with nothing to ‘F.E.A.R.’

Soldiers are subjected to bloody, bodies-strewn battle terrains in a foreign landscape. Death looms. Troops just want to come home alive.

This is the gist of “F.E.A.R.,” a remarkably spooky adventure of little battles. As a crack shooter, you are walking, always walking, firing away at enemy soldiers who appear from nowhere.

You wonder what you’re fighting for, except your own life. Any turn of any corner could put you face to face with a murderous foe. And you never have sufficient body armor.

“F.E.A.R.” is a cool, addictive, sleek pile of action. It’s also mildly creepy, but fear must be overcome.

Fear is also a motivating factor in “Bully”; you play as Jimmy, a newbie in a high school for delinquents and bullies. You can’t succumb to the intimidators or they’ll pummel you. It takes nerve to engage in what could be simply called domestic fistfights and slingshot battles.

“Bully” is made by the makers of “Grand Theft Auto,” Rockstar, which has yet to produce a bad game, as far as I know. But “Bully” is not a “GTA” kill-fest. Like “GTA,” you accomplish upwards of 60 main missions, plus dozens of side missions. You flip burgers, stop “Fatty” from getting beat up by jerks, break yard gnomes and vie for a carnival teddy bear for a date.

Also, you attend classes. In chemistry, you push a series of buttons to make firecrackers. In English, you play a form of Scrabble. Odd, yes.

Unfortunately for Jimmy, but fortunately for the fun of the game, you can’t escape punching nerds, preppies and jocks who terrorize you with fear mongering and tough shoves.

It’s all a big, cinematic entertainment that leads, unpredictably, to a more peaceful Jimmy. What’s that? Peace is the ultimate goal of a bloodless, violent video game? Yes, well, all self-destructive conflicts should end eventually.

Doug Elfman is an award-winning columnist who is also the TV critic at the Chicago Sun-Times.