The British Board of Film Classification, the body which gives games (and movies, obviously) their age ratings in the UK, has refused a rating to Manhunt 2 for its “unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying”. This means that the game may not be legally supplied to anyone in the UK.
The BBFC went on to say:
“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 last game to be refused a rating by the BBFC was Carmageddon in 1997, the developers got around that ban by changing the human pedestrians into zombies and making their blood green. The original Manhunt was released with an 18 rating in 2003.
Manhunt gained notoriety in 2004, when it was blamed for the brutal murder of 14 year old Stefan Pakeerah by Warren Leblanc, a disturbed 17 year old who was said to be obsessed with the game. Warren lured Stefan to a local woods near his home in Leicestershire before battering him around the head with a hammer and stabbing him. The claim was made by the victims parents that Leblanc was emulating the 18 rated game but police have said that the motive was robbery and nothing to do with Manhunt. Even if the game was somehow responsible, the fact that Leblanc is a disturbed individual is, in my view, blatantly obvious, and also being 17 he shouldn’t have had access to the game in the first place. Leblanc was given a life sentence in 2004, though he is only expected to serve 13 years of that in prison.
Edinburgh based developer Rockstar North, who created the game, have six weeks to appeal the BBFC’s decision. (From The BBC.)