The British Board of Film Classification today refused to give Manhunt 2 an official game rating. David Cooke The BBFC director said issuing a certificate for the game "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".
Normally he said, the board would "try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material that contravenes the BBFC's guidelines." but because the level of violence is so deeply entrenched throughout the game the BBFC couldn't recommend cuts that would allow Manhunt 2 a UK release.
“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." said Cooke.
Carmaggedon was the only other videogame to be refused classification by the BBFC and even this ban was overturned in 1997 after publisher SCi and developer Stainless Games appealed against the decision and an agreement was met by replacing the humans [which could be run over] - with zombies to make the experience less disturbing to others.
What is surprising about this ban is that the original Manhunt game - which was also deeply controversial sparking much controversy and which also featured brutal killings and extreme violence - was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC in 2003.
David Cooke countered this point remarking; "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".
Rockstar are still able to make changes and resubmit it or appeal the ruling so the fate of this game in the UK could still be up in the air. The game is still scheduled to be released on July 10th in North America and July 13th elsewhere.
Meanwhile we gleefully await Jack Thompson's seal of approval...