The BBFC (the films classification board in the UK) has rejected Manhunt 2 for release in any UK store on the Wii. The decision was made by three of the head honcho's at the company. Meanwhile over in Ireland the IFCO have also made a prohibition order on the title.
The banning of Manhunt 2 follows controversy over the original game on the PlayStation 2 after a murder was thought to have been spurred by actions in-game.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
“Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material which contravenes the Board’s published Guidelines. In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. 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.
“Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the game’s unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was classified ‘18’ in 2003, before the BBFC’s recent games research had been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board judged to be acceptable at that category.”
“Against this background, 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, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public.”
Meanwhile the Director General of ELPSA, Paul Jackson has spoken about the ruling:
"A decision from the BBFC such as this demonstrates that we have a games ratings system in the UK that is effective. It shows it works and works well. Any decision the BBFC takes, it takes on the basis of its remit to rate on screen entertainment.
It is the first game to be banned however since Carmageddon in 1997. UK magazine, NGamer were the first and only magazine to review the game due out in a few weeks and rated the game 92% stating:
"A lot of people are going to be offended by it, for its copious violence and occasional sex scene, and somebody, somewhere is going to get a shock when they walk in on a friend laterally bisecting a hunter's head with realistic sawing motions. Manhunt 2 is what Wii's parental controls are for. The sticker on the box says it's for over 18s only and, believe us, it's not wrong."
The BBFC have been unable to recommend any cuts or removal of content that could make it suitable for sale on both Wii and PS2. Rockstar have six weeks to appeal and we'll keep you updated on progress.