Old news by now, but Manhunt 2 got an AO rating from ESRB for its content. Outside of the never released Thrill Kill, and the retro-active rating for GTA: San Andreas after the “Hot Coffee” mod, this is the first legit console game to get it. To date, only 23 games using the rating system have ever been awarded the rating.

Rockstar as a result seems pretty shocked by the announcement, and is upset that both Nintendo and Sony have denied an “AO” game on their system. This is nothing new. How many “AO” games are there on consoles? None. Because they generally aren’t allowed. Is Manhunt 2 worthy of the rating, or is it being overblown? Here’s one brief description I found online.

“The ultra-violent videogame Manhunt 2 allows you to rape a woman shortly after you beheaded her in the brothel level called Honey Pot. Members of the ESRB were shocked when Daniel Lamb used his male reproduction organ and simulated a penetration in the bloody hole. Other gruesome parts include microwaving a living cat to death and being a witness of necrophilia in a cemetery in one of the later stage of the game.”

Yeah…. I think there were reasons for the rating.

There’s interactive, and then there’s creepy. I had already heard of the game using the Wiimote to castrate victims, but I really don’t think using the Wiimote as a representative of male genitalia in any real, serious gameplay (or real-life) context is something I’d really want to go for.

It’s funny what represents “adult” games and “kids” games. Yes, there are definite versions of each, from Disney titles to Grand Theft Auto or Gears of War. Nintendo seems to be the continual whipping boy over releasing “kiddie” games. Metroid and Zelda don’t strike me as “children’s titles”. While they’re only killing monsters or aliens, there is a little bit of blood-based violence, creepy monsters and Link and Samus aren’t spending the whole game hugging kittens. I thought about Nintendo’s image playing the Wii version of Resident Evil 4 (which actually does make nice use of the Wiimote for attacks), and blowing off a few heads of possessed villagers. And of course, Wii already has Scarface, Godfather and Mortal Kombat. The Wii is not exclusively about bobbly-headed Miis.

I don’t mind violence in games, or adult themes, or profanity, or killing some video game controlled enemy. I did, after all, work on several Mortal Kombat and other M-rated titles in a professional context. But this really is a case of how the Wii really is changing how we play games. It’s not a matter of pressing a button to end an enemy. You can mime out the actual motions.

It’s a semi-hypocritical standpoint. I’ve admitted I have no issue shooting a cluster of polygons resembling a human, and yet I draw the line at simulating rape on a virtual corpse. Does that mean I’m sadistic within limits? Both God of War games have rhythm based mini-games where you can sleep with concubines, and I merely raised an eyebrow and a few chuckles with friends, and yet I’d feel like a jackass standing in my living room doing some of the mentioned tasks that Manhunt 2 requires. Then again, Kratos is just having consentual sex, and the women are about the only thing he doesn’t rip to shreds in the game. Does Manhunt 2‘s gameplay allow for moral choice in how your character progresses? Even Midway’s The Suffering allows players to actively choose whether to be an anti-hero or a complete monster throughout the course of gameplay. What choice does Manhunt 2 offer?

And I doubt we’ve heard of everything that can be done. I’m sure there’s plenty left to discover if the game hits the shelves, and the public may still be in the dark on certain plot elements or character actions.

I disagree with Jack Thompson on pretty much anything he stands for. I think the game does need to come out, but it needs to be heavily restricted because it’s going to cause a firestorm if some little kid ever manages to get his/her hands on it (though I’m sure it will happen). And honestly, there’s likely going to have to be some changes, because the big companies are willing to greenlight it, and game stores aren’t going to carry it as is. Rockstar’s already said they plan to appeal it to see if they can get an “M”. I doubt it. I’d toss it an “AO” rating myself as this game simply pushes past the current boundaries into a much more graphic and intense level of violence. And honestly, I don’t even know why there is an “AO” rating, when it’s pretty much the “kiss of death” for a game in terms of sales potential, and rarity of allowed title releases.

I’ve been watching Manhunt 2 since IGN’s main page feature. I’d be fascinated from a video game collector’s standpoint as this would likely be a future “Holy Grail” of collecting, but other than going as extremely far as it can possibly go, I fail to see how all of this “shock and awe” is going to make it an amazing gaming experience. Is it going to set a new benchmark for gameplay like some titles (Metal Gear Solid, Gran Tourismo, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64), or is it going to be an average game that promotes maximum shock value?

The proof will be in the playing… if it ever comes out.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: general gamingwii gaming