Manhunt 2 to be Blocked From Sale in UK (Updated)

By Chris Remo, Jun 19, 2007 6:08am PDT The British Board of Film Classification has refused to rate the upcoming horror sequel Manhunt 2, in development by Rockstar Toronto for Wii, Rockstar London for PlayStation 2, and Rockstar Leeds for PSP. Without a BBFC rating, the game may not be sold within the United Kingdom. Today's ruling applies to the Wii and PlayStation 2 versions; the PSP version has not yet been submitted for classification.

"Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly," said BBFC director David Cooke. "Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

Manhunt 2 has generated a considerable amount of controvery for its level of violence. Among the game's detractors is ever-present gaming crusader Jack Thompson. Rockstar North's original Manhunt (PS2, Xbox, PC) saw similar criticisms, though the Wii version of the followup has taken heavier fire for its control methods; it uses the motion-sensing Wii remote to simulate the wielding of physical weapons. The game has been received favorably by the gaming press in pre-release play sessions.

Manhunt was rated "18" by the BBFC, though in his statements today Cooke noted that it was "already at the very top end" of that category's acceptable violence levels. He explained that Manhunt 2 crosses the line into unrated territory for its sheer uncompromising attitude towards violence and brutality as well as its unwillingness to allow the player not to participate in its virtual violent acts.

"The Board's carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors," Cooke continued, "and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public."

The rejection of Manhunt 2 marks the first time the BBFC has refused to rate a game since Stainless Games' kill-happy 1997 PC racer Carmageddon. That decision was appealed after publisher SCi issued a patch modifying certain aspects of the game, such as the color of its in-game blood, and adding a parental age lock. Wii features its own system-wide parental controls.

Publisher Rockstar Games has six weeks to appeal the decision, or it may resubmit an altered version of the game for reclassification.

Manhunt 2 is due for release in North America next month. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has not yet released its content rating for the game.

Update: The ESRB has announced that Manhunt 2 has been rated "Adults Only" in North America.

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  • I was once reading a report (that was posted on the Shack, I believe) which stated that violent video games can only "reinforce" violent behavior in naturally violent people, and not make nonviolent people violent.

    If anyone has the link you should post it, it was an interesting article.

    I personally agree with that assessment. My brother works with violent, mentally ill adults -- the creepy thing is that when their funding dries up (our tax money pays their bills and keeps them housed and in school), they go right back onto the streets. Most of them end up in jail after rapes/robberies, and even murders. People like this can play a game and get ideas and commit crimes and ruin it for the rest of us. If these watchdog groups put half as much energy into making the public aware of THESE TYPES OF PEOPLE, possibly we could avoid messes like this whole Rockstar debacle.

  • If I had to I'd probably move country if GTA:IV got banned (and I couldn't import a copy somehow).

    Manhunt 2, if it's as shit a game as Manhunt 1, I'm less bothered about. I do still think it's bullshit to ban it when there's no evidence at all that violent media causes actual violence (only hot-weather/ice-cream arguments and pure hysteria, like liking of Manhunt 1 to a boy's murder when it was the victim who owned the game and was being robbed (yet the BBC still repeat the allegation even today, even when the police said it's BS, FFS)).

    Maybe it's much better than MH1 and this actually is a loss, ignoring the free-speech issues? I have to admit that I would probably enjoy the gameplay of MH1 with the Wii controller, if they also improved one or two things. Call me sick but it'd be quite cathartic, at least for a while (MH1 got very boring very quickly, and then got ridiculously hard and badly designed at one point which made me give up on it.)

    One thing that *always* happens with banned media: 10 years from now the ban will be lifted and people will see it and wonder what the fucking fuss was about. Always the way.