Manhunt 2 stirs yet more controversy

Leave it Rockstar to stir up the media, with recent reports coming in that child advocates are trying to persuade parents not to buy the company’s latest instalment in the controversial Manhunt series.

The title in question, Manhunt 2, is the sequel to the 2003 original, and takes place within a secret research facility. The protagonist, Daniel Lamb, is one of many scientists working on the "The Pickman Project" which is led by Dr. Laura Whyte and Dr. Pickman. The project deals with various controversial experiments and when the funding is cut, the facility is shut down. Dr. Pickman and his colleagues decide to continue either way and move the whole project underground.

Among some of the scientists still on board, Lamb agrees to become one of the many guinea pigs. However, an unforeseen defect appears in many of the subjects and they are sent to the Dixmor Asylum for the Criminally Insane. During his time, Lamb becomes confused and brain washed with paranoia questioning what part of his life was real or imaginary. Six years later, a freakish lightning storm knocks out the asylum’s power resulting in the whole security system to shut down. Lamb decides to escape, but isn’t the only inmate coming out of his cell.

The title goes on sale today, appropriately rated “mature” by the ESRB. Of course, that means it is only suitable for people who are 17 years of age and up. Manhunt 2 was originally given the rating of “adults only” and would have excluded it from bigger retailers such as Wal-Mart. Afterwards; producers at Rockstar Games submitted a modified version of the title later, which ended up with only the “mature” rating.

The ESRB stated, “This is a very clear and firm warning to parents that the game is no way intended for children.”

Unfortunately, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) recently said that the changes don’t “go far enough”, banning the game from release in PAL areas. The BBFC added, “The impact of the revisions on the bleakness and callousness of tone, or the essential nature of the gameplay, is clearly insufficient. There has been a reduction in the visual detail in some of the ‘execution kills,’ but in others they retain their original visceral and casually sadistic nature.”

Even the CEO of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that advises parents about TV, movies, internet sites, and video games that may be inappropriate for children, got a say in the matter:

James Steyer said, “In my opinion, it’s the most senselessly violent and offensive thing I’ve ever watched.” However, Steyer was referring to the original version that received an “Adults Only” (AO) rating, without having viewed the edited copy. The former contains more violence and sexually explicit content such has a scene where a man’s testicles are mutilated with a pair of pliers.

He continued to say, “It’s disgusting. It’s so violent; it struck me personally as a pornographic violence.” Funny enough, that scene isn’t in the official version although gamers can use pliers for torture.  A representative from Take-Two Interactive also stepped in, but to defend Manhunt 2, stating, “Take-Two believes in freedom of creative expressions”.

“We also believe in social responsibility. Not all of our products are intended for all consumers and we responsibly market our mature products to adults. We firmly believe that informed adults should be able to make their own choices about entertainment products for themselves and their families.”

The representative later acknowledged that Manhunt 2 was meant, “specifically for those players mature enough to appreciate it.”

Manhunt 2 is now available across North America for PS2, PSP and Wii.

Source: Associated Press