Manhunt 2 banned by BBFC

Written by Brett Thomas

June 20, 2007 | 08:01

Tags: #ban #carmageddon #manhunt #rating

Companies: #bbfc #rockstar #take-two

It's been a little while since we've really had to worry about the Ratings game rearing its ugly head. Bully passed into (and quickly out of) our lives with barely a whisper, and it's been quiet since. At least, until now....Manhunt 2 has been banned by the BBFC.

Banning Manhunt 2 marks the second time that the British Board of Film Classification has outright banned a game, effectively acting as censors for the British populous (the first time was Carmageddon, back in 1997). Without any rating, the game will now be illegal to acquire in the UK. David Cooke, the Director of the BBFC, explained the decision:

"Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

The Board's decision has thrilled the family of a Leicester boy who was murdered in 2004. His parents blamed the original Manhunt for his death, saying that the killer trained by playing the game. Granted, the police didn't seem to believe so, saying that the murder was a robbery gone wrong - but who has time for those little details?

They have campaigned actively to ban the sequel, calling it "morally irresponsible". The parents' voices have certainly been amplified by their MP, who called the BBFC's decision "excellent" and said that it showed "that game publishers cannot expect to get interactive games where players take the part of killers engaged in 'casual sadism' and murder."

Unlike in the US, the BBFC's mature (18+) rating is legally enforceable and selling the game to a minor would have carried strict punishment anyway. The game's developer, Rockstar, has six weeks to file an appeal and either modify the game's content to appease the board or agree to not market the game in the UK. If the BBFC maintains its ban, Manhunt 2 will be the first game that actually could not be sold - Carmageddon's ban was lifted after the blood colour was changed and other small gameplay tweaks were added to decrease realism.

Do you have a thought on the censorship? Does this seem like a sensible step to prevent the game's appeal to minors, or does it seem like outright censorship in a country known for its first-class freedoms? Tell us your thoughts in our forums.
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