BBFC Rejects Revised Version Of Manhunt 2

October 9, 2007 -
Are you looking forward to playing Manhunt 2 when it launches at the end of the month?

Don't hold your breath if you reside in the UK.

As has been widely reported, in June the British Board of Film Classification banned the original version of Manhunt 2 from UK shores.

Publisher Rockstar initially said it planned to appeal the ban, but instead submitted an edited version of the controversial game in hopes of obtaining clearance to sell Manhunt 2 to those 18 and older.

While the editing approach succeeded in North America, where Manhunt 2 was downgraded from a sales-killing AO (Adults Only) rating to a more marketable (M) Mature, such is not the case across the Atlantic. There the BBFC has once again rejected the game.

Said BBFC Director David Cooke:
We recognise that the distributor has made changes to the game, but we do not consider that these go far enough to address our concerns about the original version. The impact of the revisions on the bleakness and callousness of tone, or the essential nature of the gameplay, is clearly insufficient.  There has been a reduction in the visual detail in some of the ‘execution kills’, but in others they retain their original visceral and casually sadistic nature.

We did make suggestions for further changes to the game, but the distributor has chosen not to make them, and as a result we have rejected the game on both platforms.  The decision on whether or not an appeal goes ahead lies with the distributor.

So what will Rockstar do now? 

Editing the game further could make playing Manhunt 2 as pointless as watching the sanitized-for-television version of Friday the 13th.

Gamespot has Rockstar’s reaction:
We are continuing to appeal the BBFC's decision to deny the edited version of Manhunt 2 an 18 certificate and thereby ban its release in the United Kingdom.

The changes necessary in order to publish the game in Britain are unacceptable to us and represent a setback for video games. The BBFC allows adults the freedom to decide for themselves when it comes to horror in movies and we think adults should be similarly allowed to decide for themselves when it comes to horror in video games, such as Manhunt 2.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen



Just so you know my post wasn't meant to bash the U.K. (i like Britain and British people, and i live in Canada which was a British colony at one time and still has Queen Elizabeth as the head of state), just what you said in your post about the BBFC being like a republic and the majority deciding what's media is o.k. or not o.k. for all it's citizens. I like Britain, but i loath censorship, no matter what country and no matter where it is.

Oh and if you're looking for a British anti-censorship site is pretty cool.

Ironically I just heard on the news a study is taking place about the effects of violent video games on children, the thing it neglected to mention, is that those violent video games are only available to children if their parents buy it for them.

Bah, the UK is a terrible place for gaming at the moment.

I think the point that needs to be addressed in Manhunt 2 to pass the BBFC is context, not gore.

There was a CVG article which I can't be arsed to find which made a point of noting that some gruesome killings seemed unnecessary and for the sake of progress, whereas in Manhunt 1 practically everything was justified because you're character was forced into these situations, and most of the enemies were after you first, something which has changed for Manhunt 2 judging from previews.

This is fucking bullshit, sorry but it is. What right does the BBFC have to say what games I can and can't play? I'm 18, so I can drink alchool and smoke, 2 things that can harm my health! Why can't I play computer games? I mean some of the controversal things arn't that ad when you think about it. I mean, does GTA really deserve an 18? I don't looking at that simpsons game article.

Personally, I would have no sympathy for the Manhunt franchise or Rockstar if this game had come to market and flopped horribly. But I do sympathize with Rockstar in the fact that they cannot even release this game.

It is upsetting that it cannot be released.

On the BBFC thing: They are not a government agency. The ratings are backed by law which is where the confusion is coming from. They have the power to say that a game cannot be released. That is wrong.

"I think you’re the one who is struggling with the definition of censorship. Is the BBFC allowing the game to be released? If the answer is no then it is censorship."

No, it isn't. Censorship would be if they prhibited the game because it expressed a specific view, or opinion that might be just, but they don't like it and put a stop to it for the sake of control and repression. This is a game that has gone a bit too far in it's depictions of violence and such and has been found out of bounds of an 18 rating, which has been consulted multiple times with meetings and talks with the general public about the borders of the ratings themselves. This isn't reression or denial of expression, simply a game that has gone too far or not made itself clear enough in certain aspects.

I can't be arsed to argue with ignorant dicks anymore as I;m tired and a bit fecked off, goodbye.

"This is a game that has gone a bit too far in it’s depictions of violence and such and has been found out of bounds of an 18 rating, which has been consulted multiple times with meetings and talks with the general public about the borders of the ratings themselves. This isn’t reression or denial of expression, simply a game that has gone too far or not made its"

What the fuck? How is that not censorship. How the fuck is that not the very bare basic definition of censorship? I don't know what else to say to you. Holy fuck, you don't even know what censorship is do you?

But for the sake of argument what do you call it when a group prohibits media from the general public?

Of course we disagree. I'm for freedom you are against it. We obviously have crossed that bridge of understanding long ago.

Cannot sell the games under force of law? That sounds awfully governmental to me. Either the British Government has the BBFC on a leash or the other way around. One way or another its sounds like some back room hankey-pankey is going on.

You people are impossible.


I don't care what imaginary sky fairy you worship, I just don't want it effecting public policy. When a game is banned or made to be censored because the content doesn't exactly make the baby jesus feel all warm and fuzzy, then we've got a problem.

When it all comes down to it THE reason for the attack on manhunt and video games in general is because of the warped sense or morality the attackers have garnished from millenia old comic book stories about a super man that can walk on water and heal the blind.

I'm not saying ban religion and kill all christians. I'm saying that logic, not religion, should be the main governing force in reality when it comes to what is right and wrong.

If you think I sound nasty now, or maybe even a bit more like Pandralisk, you have yourselves to thank for people like us. We try to explain things to you in a civil manner at first, but all you hear is "Oh, he's against MY religion, so that means he's stupid and bigoted. I should stop listening alltogether and just call him names now." And that shit is annoying. We can only take so much of that before we start getting mad.


"Well that clears a lot of things up. So the UK has less freedom of expression. As long as you are happy with that, though I can’t see how you would be. Me? I’m happy to live in a country where even troglodytes like Thompson and Pandralisk can say their piece. "

Im very happy with that, thanks. Over here we have far less problems with racism than you do in the states, because people understand that they are not allowed to use hate speech and incite violence through public statements. It sends the message that racism is wrong and unacceptable, and we as a society will not tolerate it. I'll take that any day, over a society where your right to be an openly retarded bigot is protected by law.

Incidentally, there is nothing that either Thompson or Pandalisk have said (that ive seen) that would not be allowed over here however. There are no controls over people rights to free debate and differing opinion, the protections offered by law only come into play when people resort to open discrimination and hate speech against racial or religious groups or based on gender or disability. Maybe the total freedom you defend so strongly wouldnt seem quite as wonderful if you were a black man watching a klan rally go past, or the parent of a dead soldier watching some hatemonger disrupt your kids funeral.

Tell that to the people currently held without trial by George Bush in Guatanamo Bay.

Too much freedom can be an incredibly bad thing in my personal belief. Ah well, your economy currently sucks, you had the freedom to vote for an idiot to run your country and the people of the world that hate you are quite content with the knowledge that you have the total freedom to shoot each other...It all balances out in the end.

Rockstar's argument is false; the BBFC will similarly ban movies if they see the need to. Playing the victim card here is completely inappropriate.

@ bigglesworth

while that is true, the content allowed in horror movies is much more graphic than is allowed in video games.

lame! though i assume if people really want to play it they will simply import it? tbh this really needs a PC release ¬.¬

What Garret said. While they have the potential to ban "offensive" movies as well, they rarely do. I don't see the Saw films banned from Britain, and those seem about as close as you can get to "visceral and casually sadistic" media.

While I haven't seen the Saw movies, I assume that, like most horror movies, we, the viewers, and the non-psycho characters depicted are fully aware that the violence and sadism being perpetrated is 'wrong'. While I also haven't seen Manhunt 2 running (only read previewers' opinions) I assume that the BBFC's beef with it is that the protagonist is not depicted as an amoral psycho sadistically inflicting violence on others - he's depicted as an identifiable 'everyman' inflicting this manner of violence as a matter of course.

Despite the fact movies like Hostel are lauded over here as great media, Manhunt is still denied a rating? Guess we're going to have to mail order it :( I find the BBFC abhorrent.. the idea of other people censoring what I can and cannot play bugs me no end.


A very sensible post that!

Indeed the BBFC have clearly stated it is not the level of violence that has caused it to be banned (hence why toning the violence down by R* hasn't worked), but rather it is the tone of unremitting casual sadism.

At least with films like Saw you are expected (or at least have the oppertunity) to empathise with the victims, rather than the psyco.

Sooo... do you think they censor Hanibal or its sequals? you know, where the insane doctor makes a guy eat a piece of his own brain (if thats the wrong movie, i apolgize)

i agree with the bbfc, though i'm not sure if the fact that there's no british rating, means that shops cant import ESRB rated games? can anyone clarify?

@Bigglesworth & EvilJez

Good points from the both of you. However, people can empathize with the new Manhunt guy as well. This man may be a normal guy, however, he isn't killing by choice, he HAS no choice but to do so as he is backed into a corner and it is the only way for him to survive. In a way, since the guy is trapped by a snuff film director, this is no different then the SAW movies, where some sadist takes a person and puts them into a hopeless situation where they are literally forced into killing in order to survive.

@Rellik San,

Please. The BBFC wont let you have one sick title and now the countries going to the dogs? Meh..


The Thomas Harris novels, and the films based on them, explore a series of complex themes, taking the reader on a moral trip between feeling sympathy for a protagonist who is led into his mental problems due to the sadistic death of his sibling, and horror at the acts he carries out. Not to mention of course the complex sexual undertones between Lector and Starling. In that kind of context, an act of gratuitious violence can have meaning and purpose.

Has ANYONE got the slightest shred of proof yet that Manhunt 2 offers any kind of depth, or indeed evidence that it is anything more than the twisted gore fest with new interactive slaughter controls(tm) that many of us presumed it was from the outset?

If not, then forgive me if I dont feel any desire to join a fight in the name of censorship thats actually about you guys getting to mash a characters brains in with a bat because its controversial and makes you feel cool and edgy.


True enough of the first Manhunt game, and I've no problem with that one at all. The second game though, positions the player as an ostensibly wrongly incarcerated asylum inmate given the opportunity to escape. There's no guiding influence forcing you to do things anymore.

"Bah, the UK is a terrible place for gaming at the moment."

So the entire gaming scene is terrible because a single game can't reach the market. No melodrama there then. The BBFC banned La Blue Girl in 1996 and I hear the anime industry in the UK hasnt been the same since.


Have you seen the UK sales charts for this week, it makes me sad!


Well, since he's in an asylum, I'm assuming meaning a mental hospital, that would mean that he would be among psychopaths, this would be killing in self defense.

@Kurisu (sorry for double post)

No it isn't. Go back and actually read up on the game via previews and such - there are details that suggest these killings are not forced into or required, and one of the biggest things about BBFC is essentially context - if something can be justified beyond random killing, and portrayed in a way that doesn't encourage, "glamourise" or provide a totally one sided view (especially leaning towards unjust racism, homophobia etc.) then it's probably going to be passed.

I suppose the point is moot, but I'll chip in my two cents because I've got nothing better to do right this moment.

Even if you disagree with this particular title, the idea that a third party has the authority to go "No, you can't have this because we feel it might be hazardous to someone else" should be considered horrid in every sense of the word. The instant someone else removes the choice from the public's hands, there should be a cry of outrage.

The BBFC has (and not for the first time, apparently) basically told you that you don't have the mental capacity to decide whether this game is appropriate for you in provate use, or that you have the fortitude to play it without going on a rampage of some kind.

It is not the individual argument that you should be considering, it's censorship as a whole.

@Rellik San

'The UK is a terrible place for gaming at the moment' just because you can't get your fix of gore and death out of one solitary game you think everything's going to hell for the videogame industry. How about Singapore, where they banned the Darkness, or Germany, who have banned Jericho, or the multitude of games banned in Australia? Trust me, it's a lot worse elsewhere in the world.

And you seem to have blown the study that's just been announced out of context. The whole point of the study is to prove whether or not the whole 'Videogames are the root of all the violence in the world' is true or just one big fat lie conjured up by the media and the OAPs and bad parents who want to blame something else other than their ineptitude for why their children are complete bastards. The fact that a number of elements within the videogame industry are supporting it should help you bear that in mind.

"The BBFC has (and not for the first time, apparently) basically told you that you don’t have the mental capacity to decide whether this game is appropriate for you in provate use, or that you have the fortitude to play it without going on a rampage of some kind."

No, they haven't.

@Bigglesworth and Kentonio

There's a reason we split off to become the only free country in the world :)

But seriously, I do find the ability of a government organization to ban any speech quite disturbing. If they can ban Manhunt 2 because it is very violent and they disagree with it, what is to stop them from banning other games or other media they disagree with? Let's ban Spore, it supports evolution, a sinful, morally corrosive lie from the militant atheists! Let's ban Age of Empires 2, it shows the Arabs in a sympathetic light, and we can't have that while we are quagmired in Curious George's Iraqi Adventure! I think any form of censorship is a slippery slope, as there is nothing to prevent them from extending their twisted logic further to "protect the morals of the culture" and, as Mark Twain put it, preventing men from eating steak because babies cannot eat it. we go again...

The BBFC is not, repeat, NOT, a government organisation. It is not owned, organised or regulated by the house of commons, the house of lords, the home office, the royal family or any political organisation. It is in fact, as stated by their website

'an independent, non-governmental body, which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912, and videos since the passing of the Video Recordings Act in 1984.'

The only political matter behind the BBFC is that they were designated by the 1984 Video Recordings Act to be the authority to classify age ratings, 'charged with applying the new test of 'suitability for viewing in the home''.

This hasn't got anything to do with the government, as the BBFC are not associated with them. Please bear that in mind when talking about government censorship conspiracy theories...

You know, here in the Netherlands, we don't ban games, unless it is clear racist propaganda.

The gestapo of Judeo-Christian values rapes the rights of another aspect of media. I won't waste time pointing out the usual contradiction here. (ie, Christian divine command theory -- rooted in the belief in a genocidal, child-killing, "God").

You think these facist "moralistic" pigs would realize that the goverment cannot decide the morality of a paticular peice of media. Firstly, their bullshit divine-command "values" amount to little more than a pile of shit shoveled into a great pile of differing opinion. Censoring the game denies individuals to make up their own minds on the subject, robbing people of the very right to govern their own actions. If these bible thumping idiots would shut their mouths long enough, they might realize that other factors are responsible for violence: poverty, religious fanatacism, cut-throat capitalism, racism.

“Bah, the UK is a terrible place for gaming at the moment.”

And yeah, the entire gaming scene sucks when developers must cower before a government censorship board; regulating their content in ways that make content that is EXPLICITLY FOR ADULTS, "safe for children."

Oh, and one more thing (sorry for double post)

Statutory powers on film remain with the local councils, which may overrule any of the Board's decisions, passing films we reject, banning films we have passed, and even waiving cuts, instituting new ones, or altering categories for films exhibited under their own licensing jurisdiction.

So in essence, the point about 'oh films like Saw go through and Manhunt doesn't' doesn't exist when concerning the BBFC, as they don't have ultimate authority on what gets shown or not.


You going a bit overboard here. These are not extremists that censor games.

These are extremists that censor games. Shall I point out the logical neccessity for you?

@HandofCrom (and others with similar views)

It may seem like splitting hairs, but it isn't really... The BBFC doesn't BAN anything. They have refused it classification which means that it can't be SOLD.

Not being able to sell something is not the same as not being able to say it.

Threatening to revoke the right of free economic distrubtion in a geographic boundary can be described as an act of coercion.

Censorship can be described as the explicit editing of content by a goverment (or private) entity, or a forceable, goverment-sanctioned, act of coercion used to dramatically change the origional content of media.

Do not try to wiggle around the minor technicalities of the term: this is an example of hardcore censorship, utilized by a group of people who are trying to shove their religious, superstitious, values down your throat.

"These are extremists that censor games. Shall I point out the logical neccessity for you? "

You obviously know fuck all about the BBFC and how it works, and are making links that aren't there at all. your name Andrew Ryan, by any chance?


Out of curiosity what planet are you living on?

At what point did anyone in the BBFC state that Manhunt 2 violates their Judeo-Christianic values. Not only have you grabbed the wrong end of the stick, but you seem to have fully grasped a totally different stick, in a different country.

Not to mention that Britain is just about the most secular place on the plant, "bible thumping idiots" I think not!

Another double post, here's the definition of an 18 rating from the BBFC itself:

18' – Suitable only for adults

No-one younger than 18 may see an ‘18’ film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an ‘18’ rated video.

In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations, at '18' the BBFC's guideline concerns will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law. Exceptions are most likely in the following areas:

* where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society – e.g. any detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which is likely to promote the activity. The Board may also intervene with portrayals of sexual violence which might, e.g. eroticise or endorse sexual assault.
* the more explicit images of sexual activity – unless they can be exceptionally justified by context and the work is not a 'sex work' as defined below.

In the case of videos and DVDs, which may be more accessible to younger viewers, intervention may be more frequent. For the same reason, and because of the different way in which they are experienced, the Board may take a more precautionary approach in the case of those digital games which are covered by the Video Recordings Act.
Sex Education at ‘18’

Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality, safe sex and health, exceptions to the normal constraints on explicit images may be made in the public interest. Such explicit detail must be kept to the minimum necessary to illustrate the educational or instructional points being made.
Sex Works at ‘18’

Sex works are works, normally on video or DVD, whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing material which may be simulated are generally passed ‘18’, while sex works containing clear images of real sex are confined to the ‘R18’ category.

If this is really about the context of the killing then it begs the question, what about FPS games with multiplayer combat?

In those games the multiplayer aspect boils down to, you have people and guns in an arena, and the people use the guns to kill each other for no reason at all. Wanton violence simply for the sake of violence.

Another question is, if they block this, what comes next? Do they simply start blocking every game that portrays a world view they don't agree with? Does the next Final Fantasy gets blocked, not for violence or anything like that, but because there's "magic" in it and "magic" is of the devil?

Not being a government agency is a little odd to claim given their position due to the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Now we have a private organization with government level control over media and no "checks and balances" in place. I know the UK works differently than the USA, but doesn't the government still have limits on its power that the people can call upon? Limits that can't be used against a private organization?

The UK might not be a "terrible place for gaming at the moment", but if a stand is not taken against this now it could very well become a terrible place for gaming.

Note: I dislike Manhunt and SAW and those types of things, but I feel that anyone of age who wants to see or play them should be able to, and that no outside party should be able to govern entertainment in this way (rate it AO yes, ban it no). I don't think this is some censorship conspiracy whatnot as some people above seem to conclude, I just don't think such a private organization should have such power because private organizations in the past have shown they can't handle power properly.


Continuing your ongoing education into the BBFC, you might also llike to know that the Guidelines they follow are arrived at by public consultation, therefore the only people "trying to shove their religious, superstitious, values down your throat" are the people themselves. Also of interest is the fact that any local authority can override any rating assigned to a work following public pressure. If you want to buy Manhunt 2, try writing to your yours.

The scary thing is the controversy has pushed the original manhunt back into the top 20 best sellers over here in Britain. Rockstar's profiting from the controversy quite reasonably, despite not being able to sell their product. Imagine if it ever got a release over here?


I guess I stand corrected, it looks like there are checks and balances in place for use on the BBFC I was not aware of.

Still can't say I agree with them being able to ban something. I think the system should be set up so that the highest is AO (and not banned), with the pressure from the public used to change a current rating (higher or lower), based on what the population thinks is the right rating for the game after seeing it and playing it themselves.


FPS's generally dont run into problems because the killing is usually clearly intended as fantasy. Its a big step from blasting your way through a crowd of mates on Halo, and acting out acts of horrendous, brutal violence in a lifelike setting. Theres a reason that the blood effects on most games still have a cartoony look to them, and that reason has very little, or nothing to do with technological constraints.


You also cant watch a film glorifying rape. We have certain standards in place, and while I dont particularly buy into the argument about violent media leading to people carrying out those acts, I do believe that they have a general effect on society and what we consider acceptable. Most people dont believe its ok for someone to hack a persons head in half with a rusty saw, even if that is just on a video game. I think it says something worrying about us if we think that it is not only ok, but something we should be fighting for.


Alright. I've had enough. With all the inflammatory, vitriolic bile your spewing at every religious person here, you're only a half-step short of being as blind and arrogant as Jack Thompson. Morality is not the monopoly of religion, nor are bigoted, reactionary responses like yours.

Take my advice and shut your mouth unless you can constructively and objectively convey your point. This is a website about video games and politics. Neither one of which is grounds for this unadulterated hate speech you've got going against the various religions.

And while I'm at it, here's a thought I picked up from my world religions professor: Anyone trying to attack religion is being foolish. It's been around for over 2000 years, and it will happily survive after you're dead and buried.

Find another forum for your filth. The religious and non-religious alike on this site are fed up with your BULLSHIT.
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