After the British Board of Film Classification's announcement today that it has rejected Manhunt 2 for rating in the UK, the Entertainment Software Rating Board has told GamesRadar that it has already assigned a rating to Manhunt 2 for its release in the US.
"An ESRB rating has been assigned to the Wii, PS2 and PSP versions of Manhunt 2, and Rockstar has been notified," ESRB president Patricia Vance told us. "However, we are unable to publicly release the rating at this time as it is our policy that ratings be posted to our website 30 days following assignment, unless the game is released prior to the end of that period.
"This is done to give publishers the opportunity to consider modifying and resubmitting their games for rating or appealing the rating assigned to our Appeals Board should they wish to do so."
[UPDATE] While the ESRB kept quiet about the rating, however, Rockstar's parent company Take Two Interactive has been vocal about the decision, reportedly confirming to industry blog GamePolitics that the game received an Adults Only rating. AO is the ESRB's most severe stamp, generally reserved for games featuring overt sexual content, and it effectively bars Manhunt 2 from being sold in most stores.
"Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media," the company wrote in a statement published on GamePolitics.
The first Manhunt game was awarded a Mature rating and ESRB described the content as "Blood and gore, intense violence, strong language." In order to earn an AO, however, a game must feature "prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity," according to the ESRB's website, and while there have been allusions to some sexual content in the sequel, we can definitely confirm that it features "prolonged scenes of intense violence."
Products given an AO are generally not stocked by major retailers, many of which have official policies against carrying them, although Rockstar would have been well aware of the established boundaries when creating the game. As for whether it will appeal the rating board's decision, Take Two said only that "We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2, " according to GamePolitics.
June 19, 2007