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Manhunt actually getting released in UK

The perpetually banned Manhunt 2 will finally be released in the UK, after a lengthy battle against the BBFC. David Cooke, president of the BBFC stated: "As I have said previously, we never take rejection decisions lightly, and they always involve a complex balance of considerations. We twice rejected Manhunt 2, and then pursued a judicial review challenge, because we considered, after exceptionally thorough examination, that it posed a real potential harm risk.

"However, the Video Appeals Committee has again exercised its independent scrutiny. It is now clear, in the light of this decision, and our legal advice, that we have no alternative but to issue an '18' certificate to the game."

Rockstar must be relieved that their game can finally be released -- however, after all the legal battles, we wonder if anyone will buy the poorly-reviewed title.

[Thanks, Bill!]

PSP Fanboy review: Manhunt 2

Manhunt 2 has had an interesting development cycle. It's hard to think of another game that has been so steeped in controversy, politics and debate. But while the politicians and TV talking heads can go on and on about violence, corporate responsibility and protecting the children, the people who the game is actually made for (you know, gamers) are much more curious about how Manhunt 2 actually plays.

The game starts off with a massive lightning storm temporarily causing a blackout at a rundown and dingy insane asylum, which rather inconveniently causes all the cell doors to pop open, spewing forth a small army of violent crazy people. Your character, Daniel Lamb, suddenly snaps into consciousness while strangling an old female doctor as your cell door opens. Shocked at what you're doing, you drop her body and stumble out into the hallway in what segues into a mini-tutorial on how to sneak and kill. It also nicely showcases some of the ... questionable aspects of the game, since in the first five minutes you are peed on, spit on, and throw up twice.

Of course, the most controversial part of Manhunt 2 is not the urination -- it's the wide variety of grotesque ways you can kill people. While it is possible to engage enemies in normal hand-to-hand combat, this will almost always mean your death. The way you're 'suppose' to kill someone is by sneaking up behind them with a weapon and performing an execution. If done correctly, you will be treated with a short cutscene of you horribly eviscerating your opponent. Well, at least you'll assume you just eviscerated the perp, since Rockstar edited the cutscenes to appease the ESRB and ended up making them an unintelligible mess of quick cuts, bad camera angles, and blurred effects. Unless you're extremely squeamish, you're not going to be disturbed by the violence of the executions, but the cutscenes may give you epilepsy.

Gallery: Manhunt 2

Continue reading PSP Fanboy review: Manhunt 2

Rockstar fails to credit some Manhunt 2 developers

Amidst all the controversy over Rockstar's latest release, Manhunt 2, comes word that someone else is now upset with the developer. It appears that Rockstar failed to include the staff of more than 50 people at Rockstar Vienna, which worked on the title for nearly two years until it was closed down, and several other people from various other Rockstar teams.

Thankfully, Jurie Horneman, a former Rockstar Vienna producer posted the full list of names on his blog, but he didn't stop there. According to Horneman, the work him and the rest of his team contributed to the game made it into the retail release of the game.

"I am disappointed and outraged that Rockstar Games tries to pretend that Rockstar Vienna and the work we did on Manhunt 2 never happened - the work of over 50 people, who put years of their lives into the project, trying to make the best game they could. I am proud to have been a part of that team," Horneman wrote. While we've been behind Rockstar during the flood of media scrutiny over Manhunt 2 and its past releases, we can't, like Jurie, help feel a bit disappointed that it failed to properly credit the developers who spent so much time creating its new cashcow.

[Via IGN]

ESRB responds: Manhunt 2 will not receive AO rating due to PSP hack

The PSP version of Manhunt 2 is vulnerable to a hack that allows the graphic kills of Rockstar's controversial action game to remain intact, unedited. Surely, this will raise the eyebrow of the ESRB, which pulled Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas off of store shelves due to the "Hot Coffee" incident?

No. In an statement released to the press, ESRB president Patricia Vance said: "Manhunt 2's rating makes it unmistakable that the game is intended for an older audience. The unauthorized hacking into the code of this game doesn't change that basic fact. Parents need to be vigilant about monitoring what their children are downloading on the Internet and ensure that they are not making unauthorized and oftentimes illegal modifications to software and hardware that remove the controls the industry has so diligently put in place for their own protection."

The PSP isn't widely known for having the best security around, but it's clear that a bit more effort goes into unlocking the "unedited" version of Manhunt 2 as opposed to the PC version of Grand Theft Auto. "The Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "Hot Coffee" situation involved a scene that was a) fully rendered in an unmodified form on the disc (the Hot Coffee mod did not alter the content that was there, it merely unlocked it), b) not previously disclosed to the ESRB during the rating process, and c) easily accessible to all owners of the PC version of the game. Conversely, in the case of Manhunt 2, a) content that was programmed to be part of the game (i.e., visual blurring effects of certain violent depictions) is being modified, b) the content was previously disclosed to the ESRB, and c) unauthorized versions of software and/or hardware are required to play the modified content."

Take-Two acknowledges Manhunt 2 hack

After word spread throughout the internet of gamers hacking the M-rated version of Manhunt 2 to unlock its censored content, Take-Two has now confirmed the diabolical deed.

"Multiple edits were made to revise Manhunt 2 for its M-rated version. Hackers apparently have altered one of those edits to produce an illegally modified version of the game that can only be played on an unauthorized, modified PlayStation Portable handheld system," a Take-Two rep wrote to "All of the game material, and especially these specific edits, was submitted to and reviewed by the ESRB in accordance with requirements regarding disclosure that were enacted two years ago and any contrary suggestion is inaccurate and irresponsible."

Because the ESRB approved Rockstar's edits of the game, it will probably be safe from any actual lawsuits, but that probably won't stop some uneducated media members from blowing it out of proportion. We just can't wait to hear from dear ol' Jack.

From AO to M: the changes of Manhunt 2

You've seen the footage: the edited Manhunt 2 features toned-down kill sequences. Yes, they're still violent, but they had to be distorted in order to lessen the visceral impact. In spite of the changes, we think Rockstar did a fantastic job of still conveying the sadistic nature of a serial killer.

But that's not the only thing that's changed about Manhunt 2. A scoring system, which rewarded players for performing the most difficult (and most extreme) kills, has been removed. In an interview with MTV, developer Jeronimo Barrera noted that: "The scoring was a hold-over from the first game, and when we had the opportunity to make edits because of the rating, we decided to remove it ... We felt it flowed better without a score screen between levels."

With the game's release firmly set for launch this week, the developers are glad that people will finally have a chance to play their game. They certainly couldn't have anticipated the amount of controversy the game would receive: "There are conversations to be had about this game - intelligent conversations," he said. "That's what we want to do: get people interested in those [things], rather than ban this game because of X, Y and Z."

Manhunt 2 + pen = murder

Ah, so that's why it was banned ...

Rockstar's Manhunt 2, although edited, looks quite gruesome. Although the violence is covered by the dramatic use of visual filters, it still maintains the visceral feel that many (if not most) so-called-violent games are missing. Taking a cue from The Bourne Identity, we see our favorite anti-hero kill a man with a pen -- but for reasons unknown. Check out IGN for more brutality.

Manhunt 2 release impending, trailer on display

Holy s***!

There sure are a lot of masked gang members, strippers, dirty cops, and more in this launch trailer for Manhunt 2. This Wii, PSP and PS2 game garnered a lot of attention when it earned the much-hated AO (Adults Only) rating from the ESRB, and was effectively banned. It's been edited -- but it still looks like a pretty dirty romp to us. This trailer looks absolutely horrible ... and we love it.

Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions.

Uncut Manhunt 2 leaked, intro cinema revealed

Supposedly, a leaked version of an early "uncut" PS2 Manhunt 2 is making its rounds on the internet. To prove the authenticity of the leak, videos of the game can be found on YouTube, such as the game's sufficiently violent introduction. We don't see anything particularly "Adults Only" about the intro, which has us questioning the ESRB's original decision. Perhaps the game becomes far more gruesome later on?

See the video after the break. Because the game is rated M for Mature, you must be 17 or older to view the clip.

[Update: Rockstar has already removed the video from YouTube.]
[Thanks, bob! Via Maxconsole]

Uncut Manhunt to be released ... in Holland

Although Manhunt 2 will be censored in the US, an uncut, unedited version of the controversial Rockstar game will appear in Holland. In a letter to Parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said: "The current law is based on the principle that every adult is considered capable of deciding for himself which games he wants to play, unless it contains illegal material." He added that keeping a watchful eye on the content in games is "the joint responsibility of parents, the audiovisual industry and the government."

While we'd love for other nations to take an equally liberal approach to games, it appears that Holland is reconsidering its laws. According to MCV, the ministry was now examining whether new laws or policies were needed "to better protect the youth."

The game will be released in Holland uncensored, but there's no word on the fate of Manhunt 2 in the UK, where the game is still banned, according to Next-Gen.

Manhunt 2 gets M rating, releases Halloween

After receiving the much-feared AO rating from the ESRB, Take-Two Interactive had no choice but to delay Rockstar's Manhunt 2 and edit some of its more questionable moments. It looks like whatever they did, the ESRB is now satisfied enough to give the game a toned down, but still restrictive M rating. With an M rating, the game can now be sold in retail stores -- something the AO rating didn't allow.

"Manhunt 2 is important to us, and we're glad it can finally be appreciated as a gaming experience," said Sam Houser, founder and executive producer of Rockstar Games. "We love the horror genre. Manhunt 2 is a powerful piece of interactive story telling that is a unique video game experience. We think horror fans will love it."

With an M rating secured, Mahunt 2 will ship to retailers this Halloween, October 31st.

Six weeks later: Rockstar fights back

Six weeks after Manhunt 2's ban from the BBFC (and subsequently, an AO rating from the ESRB), Rockstar has finally formulated an appeal. The Video Appeals Committee (VAC) will have to analyze both the BBFC and Rockstar's position on the game, and choose whether or not to uphold the ban.

It's good to see Rockstar finally fighting back: hopefully, gamers will be able to see the version of Manhunt 2 Rockstar intended to make all along -- not an edited version created to satiate the meek.

[Via 1UP]

Manhunt 2 release "temporarily suspended"

Well, we can cross off one more game off the already-crowded PSP summer release calendar. Manhunt 2 was scheduled for release at the beginning of July, but due to its recent AO rating from the ESRB, Take-Two must reconsider. In a statement to Gamespot, Take-Two stated it has "temporarily suspended plans to distribute Manhunt 2 for the Wii or PlayStation platforms while it reviews its options with regard to the recent decisions made by the British Board of Film Classification and Entertainment Software Rating Board."

It seems like an edit of the game is most likely. However, they also admitted that "We continue to stand behind this extraordinary game. We believe in freedom of creative expression, as well as responsible marketing, both of which are essential to our business of making great entertainment." Let's hope the game doesn't undergo too much of a drastic change.

[Via Joystiq]

Manhunt 2 gets AO rating from ESRB

After being rejected by the BBFC in the UK, Rockstar's Manhunt 2 is seemingly getting banned in America as well. According to Game Politics, the "murder simulator" is getting an AO (Adults Only) rating, which effectively bans it from all major video game retailers.

Take Two games will certainly fight this decision as fiercely as possible in the coming days. Remember, the game's release is supposed to be only a few weeks away ...

[Via Joystiq]

Manhunt 2 rejected in UK

The hotly anticipated Manhunt 2 may not see release in the UK, due to its rejection from the BBFC ratings board. David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: "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."

"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."

The Video Recordings Act allows game distributors to appeal the decision, which we're certain Rockstar will want to take advantage of. This is a monumental decision in the games industry; the last video game to be refused a classification was Carmageddon in 1997 (which was later overturned by an appeal).

Gallery: Manhunt 2

[Via press release]

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