For the first time in ten years, the British Board of Film Classification has banned a video game for sale in the UK. Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 was rejected by the board for its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying."
The ruling effectively means the game cannot be legally offered for sale within the United Kingdom.
"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," said BBFC Director David Cooke. "There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."
Rockstar’s original Manhunt game was given an "18" rating in 2003, meaning it could not be legally sold or rented to individuals under 18 years of age. The original game was the subject of tremendous controversy, and has widely been cited as a contributing factor in the 2004 murder of 14 year-old Stefan Pakeerah in Leicester. Pakeerah was beaten and stabbed to death by his 17 year-old friend Warren LeBlanc. Pakeerah’s parents maintain that LeBlanc was inspired by the Manhunt game, although no link between the game and the murder was established in court.
Rockstar has developed Manhunt 2 for the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Wii; both versions were rejected by the BBFC. Rockstar has six weeks to submit an appeal of the ban.
The last game rejected by the BBFC was Carmageddon in 1997. That decision was overturned on appeal.