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Published at 5:01 PM PST

Following this weeks news that the Video Appeals Committee (VAC) had the BBFC reconsider Manhunt 2, the BBFC warned just yesterday that it may take legal action against the game, thus Rockstar, to prevent it's sale in the UK.

"We need to see the judgment papers from the VAC case before we even consider giving Manhunt 2 a rating," said BBFC spokesperson, Sue Clark.

"If we spot anything problematic, we may decide to take our case to the High Court as a judicial review, which would lead to Manhunt 2’s release being frozen in the UK.

"Our main concern is to ensure a lawful outcome. It needs to be the right decision within the UK’s legal framework – which will be the right decision in the public interest."

It appears the BBFC arn't going to let this down without a fight, and I foresee a huge of a fight ahead of them. It is in there rights to go to the High Court, however you have to ask when is enough, enough? It's obvious they are the only organisation who have a problem with Manhunt 2. The VAC proved that, and the problem I have with all this is the money Rockstar Games would be spending to try and get this terrific game released in the UK while the BBFC is making it more expensive by the day. Looks like the UK will be waiting a bit longer then first thought.

Thanks to GameZine UK for the heads up.

Published at 5:08 AM PST

OFLC logo

With the UK possibly seeing Manhunt 2 very soon now, it brings up the question of Australia. Australia follows the UK in most decisions, such as the banning of Manhunt one for example. They have, so far, failed to rate or even acknowledge Manhunt 2. The hope is that with the news today of Manhunt 2 being passed for release UK (that is if the BBFC don't decide to try and re-re-re-ban it) that Australia will follow key and release the game, or at least give us a rating to work with.

I have attempted to contact the OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification - Australia's rating board) but have so far been unable to get a response. I will continue trying, however the chances of a response seem unlikely at the moment. Also, so far all imports of the game have been stopped at customs or stopped by the retailer themselves. This would lead me to believe they are aware of it's existence, but are taking the lazy track of not rating it, most likely to ensure the community don't bring up the question of "Why don't we have an Adults rating for video games?" again...

Published at 12:31 PM PST

After the much expected controversy, bannings and wii-makes-it-all-worse-ness Manhunt 2 may finally be making its' way to UK stores following the Video Appeals Committee’s decision to vote against the BBFC.

Strauss Zelnick was naturally full of praise for the VAC:

We are committed to making great interactive entertainment, while also marketing our products responsibly and supporting an effective rating system. We are pleased that the decision of the VAC has recognized that Manhunt 2 is well within the bounds established by other 18+ rated entertainment.

Meanwhile the BBFC are left to ponder their response and no doubt attempt to re-ban the game. Good luck! For those hoping to have a black Christmas, don't hold your breath. We're expecting it sometime early next year.

Published at 12:37 PM PST

GI.biz is now reporting that Rockstar have finally won their long battle with the BBFC over the controversial Manhunt 2. The Video Appeals Committee decided by four votes to three in favour of Rockstar to allow the game. The ball is now in the BBFC’s court on what they can do, either allow the game to be published or take it to the High Court. The BBFC had this to say:

We won't make a decision until we've seen the full printed judgment, which we're expecting this week
 
Be sure to stay tuned to RockstarWatch as we follow the latest un-banning of Manhunt 2.

Published at 8:43 AM PST

A group of US senators are now protesting against Manhunt 2 almost a month after release. The four invloved are Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback and Evan Bayh and wrote a letter to the ESRB [who feel fully comfortable with it’s M rating they gave]

‘We ask your consideration of whether it is time to review the robustness, reliability and repeatability of your ratings process, particularly for this genre of ‘ultraviolent’ video games and the advances in game controllers. We have consistently urged parents to pay attention to the ESRB rating system. We must ensure that parents can rely on the consistency and accuracy of those ratings’

I think your a bit too late… but with Clinton’s presidential aspirations becoming more successful, will the ESRB consider this? Lets hope not...

Thanks to GamesRadar!

Published at 8:34 PM PST

Ex-Rockstar Vienna employee, Gareth White, who was apparently a programmer on Manhunt 2 has jumped on the Manhunt 2 Put-Down Train today following his friend Jurie Horneman who posted about the missing Vienna credits in Manhunt 2 last week. He had this to say on his Blog today:

I haven’t played the released version myself, but it sounds like it’s virtually identical to the PS2 & Xbox version we finished back in summer 2006, apart from the edits needed to comply with the ESRB, obviously.

At least Wikipedia and the Austrian National broadcaster ORF [German language] give us credit, despite the blatent lies that the Rockstar PR machine spews out.

Then again, it’s a crap game, as the developers knew all along, so perhaps it’s no great loss that I’m not officially connected with it.

On top of this it's rumored that a yet unnamed (well as far as we know) gaming assosiation is attemping to take action and "fix" the case of the missing credits. More on that soon.

Published at 3:22 AM PST

According to EvilAvatar, Target are removing Manhunt 2 off the shelves and are no longer selling them. Take Two have supposedly agreed to take back all unopened copies of the game. Why are they doing this? Here's why:

My contact (an employee but not a manager) was told that it was due in greater part to the unfavorable coverage the game got in the national press the last several days. Target stores had been selling the game since it's launch, but it was only today that they were told to pull the product and refuse further shipments.

But after the ESRB stands firm by the decision for an 'M' rating, looks like some shops don't like the coverage it has been getting [the uncensor hack which was discovered just days ago]. Let's hope other shops don't do the same...

UPDATE (by Jared): Soon after this was posted we received word that Target had update the purchasing page for Manhunt 2 on their website to reflect the game being pulled from shelves, you can see this here on the Manhunt 2 purchasing page under "Availability:". It states:

This item is available online, but is not available in stores.

Note the error with the ESRB rating icon being RP (Rating Pending) where as it should be M (Mature), this strikes me as a little odd in itself, not making people aware of the rating when purchasing online. Seems to me like a bigger issue then selling in store, would probably lead to more trouble too.

Also no word still on if or when Australia will see Manhunt 2. So far we have heard of many Australian's having orders with Rockstar Warehouse and other online stores canceled without explanation. More information on that as it becomes available. Oh and by the way, Hostel 2 is still being sold at Target...Go figure.

Published at 11:26 AM PST

The ESRB has held a conference call over the Manhunt 2 edits which rapped up moments ago. The following statement was read by ESRB president Patricia Vance during the conference call.

Earlier this week we learned about a hack into the code of the PSP and PS2 versions of the game that removes special effects filters that were put in place to obscure certain violent depictions.  We have investigated the matter and concluded that unauthorized versions of the game have been released on the Internet along with instructions on how to modify the code to remove the special effects. 

Once numerous changes to the game’s code have been made and other unauthorized software programs have been downloaded to the hardware device which circumvent security controls that prevent unauthorized games from being played on that hardware, a player can view unobscured versions of certain violent acts in the game.  Contrary to some reports, however, we do not believe these modifications fully restore the product to the version that originally received an AO rating, nor is this a matter of unlocking content. 

Our investigation indicates that the game’s publisher disclosed to the ESRB all pertinent content in the authorized Mature-rated version of Manhunt 2 now available in stores, and complied with our guidelines on full disclosure of content. 

What parents, and indeed all consumers, need to be aware of is that computer software and hardware devices are susceptible to unauthorized modification.  Parents should be cognizant of whether or not their children are engaging in unauthorized modification of their games, consoles or handhelds, as those modifications can change game content in ways that may be inconsistent with the assigned ESRB rating. That being said, the vast majority of consumers have not made the unauthorized modifications to their hardware necessary to view the content at issue.

 

There is also a Q&A about the edits.

Q. How is this situation different from the “Hot Coffee” incident?

A. 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.  

Q. How is this situation different from the one with “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion?”

A. After the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the ESRB discovered extensive amounts of fully rendered and previously undisclosed blood and gore in the game that warranted a Mature rating.  In addition, there was a fully rendered anatomically detailed art file of a topless female character present on the disc that had not been previously disclosed to the ESRB during the rating process.  The blood and gore was accessible to all owners of the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game.  The partial nudity was accessible to all owners of the PC version of the game if they downloaded a modification available on the Internet that replaced one version of character artwork for another, both of which existed in a fully rendered form on the disc.  Conversely, with Manhunt 2, a) the content in question was previously disclosed to the ESRB, b) the content is being modified by removing the obscuring blur effect that was programmed as part of the game, and c) unauthorized versions of software and/or hardware are required to play the modified content.   

Q. Why does this instance not fall under the ESRB’s disclosure rule clarification requiring that locked-out content contained in the code on a game disc be considered in the assignment of a rating?

A. Our rule clarification following Hot Coffee required that pertinent content that is programmed to be locked out but which exists in an unmodified, fully rendered form on game discs must either be removed or disclosed to ESRB during the rating process.  In the case of Manhunt 2, the scenes in question were playable (not locked-out), programmed to include the blur effect, and fully disclosed to the ESRB.

Thank god at least the ESRB understands game code, unlike Jack Thompson and the rest of the main stream media. Even though the ESRB has cleared Rockstar of any wrong doing, you can bet main steam media and the "concerned" groups will still be up-in-arms about the edits.

RockstarWatch would like to give GamePolitics a special thanks for the heads up!

If you would like to listen to the conference, GamePolitics has uploaded the audio for you to enjoy!

Published at 7:28 AM PST

If your become a little sick of the groups trying to have Manhunt 2 re-banned, re-modified or just to be generally annoying I urge you not to both reading on. Once again after little more then 48 hours after the Manhunt 2 release another group is after Rockstar Games and even now, ESRB. Parents Television Council (PTC) president Tim Winter has made the cold move of asking ESRB to reinstate the original AO rating to Manhunt 2 and included a list of further demands by the PTC and hinted at what will happen if they are not fulfilled. Mr. Winter then went on to suggest the ESRB suspend reviews and consideration of any games to be published by Rockstar Games and/or Take-Two Interactive saying simply that they "have breached the trust of the entire video game rating system." . He then added:

Unless the industry as a whole, including the ESRB, steps up to the plate immediately and decisively, there is little doubt the video game ratings system will face the specter of government oversight.

So wait lets recap, he wants Manhunt 2 basically banned ( ...no AO games allowed on the PS2 / the Wii or the PSP... ) and no future Rockstar Games or T2 games to be rated (thus not released) all because his group feel the two companies have breached the rating system's trust? It seems very over dramatic to me, think of how many games both Rockstar and T2 have in the works, it's not only very badly thought-out, just rude. Seems this Manhunt 2 bashing won't be finishing anytime soon. All I can suggest is the obvious, if you are concerned about your children playing the game, don't buy them the game. Why should the rest of the world miss out on a game because of the neglect of parents not being aware of what their children are playing?

- Thanks QJ.net.

Published at 4:47 PM PST

A past worker of now closed Rockstar studio, Rockstar Vienna, today expressed there disappointment that a total of 55 employee's and the studio itself were not put in the credits of Manhunt 2. As much as I feel for the people who worked hard on the game, legally Rockstar owns the game and the studio, closed or not, so they aren't legally required to include those credits, well from what I have been able to gather that is. Either way, to show our support for those who put hard work into this terrific gaming masterpiece, here's a complete list of the people from Vienna in credits form as posted here:

Executive Producer:
Hannes Seifert

Producer:
Marin Gazzari
Hannes Seifert
Jurie Horneman

Associate Producer:
Kirsten Kennedy
Monika Sange

Lead Programmer:
Thaddaeus Frogley

Programmers:
Andreas Varga
Mark Wesley
Christian Bazant
Adrian Garrett
Andrew Howe
Peter Melchart
Uwe Pachler
Christian Schmutzer
Gareth White
Bjoern Drabeck

Lead Level Designer:
Gunter Hager

Level Designers:
Georg Gschwend
Jurie Horneman
Attila Malárik
James McLoughlin
Klaus Riech
Peter Saghegyi
Ngoc Nguyen

Lead Artist:
Leander Schock

Technical Artists:
Stefan Kubicek
Terence Kuederle

Level and Environment Artists:
Michal Drimalka
Daniel Edwards
Paul Ellinor
Maximillian Froemter
Alexander Hager
Guenter Hochecker
Ian Maude
John O’Malley
Oliver Reischl

Character Artists:
Julian Kenning
Ulrich Radhuber

Lead Animator:
Reinhard Schmid

Animators:
Roger Barnett
Steven Manship

Concept Artist:
Christian Koppold

Lead Audio & Video Engineer:
Tobias Kraze

Sound Designers:
Darren Lambourne
Dominik Mayr
Steven Blezy

Video Editor:
Bernhard List

Lead Tester:
Peter Ehardt

Testers:
Melissa Lumbroso
Simon Belton
Michael Borras
Helmut Hutterer
Sameer Malik
Joseph Sewell
Bryan Thompson
Kala Truman
Kieran Gaynor
Andrea Schmoll
Markus Igel

Localization:
Tobias Kraze
Bernhard List

Managing Directors:
Hannes Seifert
Niki Laber

Technical Director:
Tobias Sicheritz

Production Director:
Thomas Schweitzer

Creative Director:
Marin Gazzari

Administration & Finance Manager:
Dana Zajic

HR Manager:
Michaela Gazzari

Operations Manager:
Martin Filipp

Technics:
Chris Soukup
Thomas Zajic
Gernot Unger
Marco Pietsch
Peter Krakhofer
Markus Skrivan

Internal Tools Development:
Philipp Rettenbacher
Thomas Passauer
Martin Porocnik

Support:
David Huettner (Character Artist)
Donald Kirkland (Game Designer)
Sebastian Harras (Level Designer/Artist)
Jeff Wong (Animator)
Helmut Hutterer (Tester)
Gill Frank (Animator)
Kerstin Knesewicz (Management Assistent)
Kaweh Kazemi (Producer)
Petra Gregorowitsch (Management Assistant)
Melanie Friedl (Receptionist)

Additional Art:
RABCAT Computer Graphics GmbH
tidbit-images

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