"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.
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.
This is getting the push because of the bad press the game has received the last couple of days, member Dr. Finger advocates. Who knows, perhaps its the violence that can be unlocked as well. Either way, this is a complete rumor until a lot of people actually start looking for games in Target. A few sold out stores here or there aren't proof positive. Not yet.
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.
"Even though some people may consider Manhunt 2 to be only a game, it unfortunately perpetuates and reinforces cruel, inaccurate perceptions that people who live with mental illnesses are violent, NAMI executive director Mike Fitzpatrick stated in a press release. "Concern over the violence reflected in the game up until now has not yet been extended to include the outrageous portrayal of the 54 million people in the United States who live with serious mental illnesses. We do not favor censorship, but we do ask for responsible exercise of creative rights when serious public health concerns are at issue. It is our right to demand a higher standard."
While we can somewhat understand Fitzpatrick's concerns, all forms of media have long perpetuated stereotypes and myths about not only this issue, but a myriad of others, as well. It only takes a few working brain cells to understand that every mentally ill person isn't going to rip your scrotum off, but hey, if you're crazy enough to believe that, you may need to have your head examined.
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 GamePolitics.com. "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.
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."
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.
"We recognize that the distributor has made changes to the game, but we do not consider that these go far enough to address our concerns about the original version," said David Cooke, director of the BBFC. "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."
Cooke said the BBFC made even more suggested changes that went ignored, which caused the second rejection. It's interesting to see the BBFC's latest decision as the ESRB recently awarded the revised Manhunt 2 a Mature rating after it initially rejected it, too. Take 2 has the right to appeal the decision, and frankly, we hope they do.
The title was getting produced right along with Timbaland, so we'll assume both of those are pushed to 2009. It's all right, though, we'll find a lot of other things to tide us over until these games come out. Either way you look at it, though, 2009 is a long ways off, especially if you calculate time using the Blog-o-scheduler, which is approximately fourteen human years.
"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.
However, Leeds isn't done quite yet with the portables. "It's not over for handheld for us - there's more coming there - but our new focus will be on the new formats." Hopefully, we'll see one more incredible project out of Rockstar Leeds for the PSP before they move on to greener (and more powerful) pastures.
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.
"We are very proud of Manhunt 2 and believe it builds on what the team accomplished with the first title in the series. The game was developed as a horror experience, and to be an M rated title, aligning it with similar horror content created in other forms of media. Unlike many other people, we do no think videogames should be singled out for special treatment from authorities. We hope to have more information for you soon, but in the meantime, we wanted you to know how much we value all of your messages of support."
We couldn't agree more, all forms of entertainment should be held to the same standards. Let's hope it isn't long until that ideal becomes a reality.
[Via Games Radar]