BREAKING: Rockstar Confirms Manhunt 2 PSP Hack

November 1, 2007 -
Since late yesterday GamePolitics has been following a rumor that hackers had discovered a means to reveal the original, unedited content of Manhunt 2.

Now we've had confirmation from a Take Two representative that it's not a rumor.

It's true.

In other words, the apparent hack made visible some - but apparently far from all - of the content found in the version of the game rated "Adults Only" by the ESRB.

Here is the statement just sent to GamePolitics:
Multiple edits were made to revise Manhunt 2 for its M-rated version.

Hackers apparently have altered one of those edits to produce an illegally modified version of the game that can only be played on an unauthorized, modified PlayStation Portable handheld system.

All of the game material, and especially these specific edits, was submitted to and reviewed by the ESRB in accordance with requirements regarding disclosure that were enacted two years ago and any contrary suggestion is inaccurate and irresponsible.

Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick said, "I stand behind the game and the ESRB ratings process. It is unfortunately the case that no one in the entertainment software industry is immune from hacking. We hope that consumers will not engage in hacking or download illegally modified copies of our games. We encourage them to enjoy our games as they are meant to be played. We would also like to emphasize that Manhunt 2 is intended for an audience aged 17 and above."

While not of Hot Coffee caliber, the news will provide fuel for critics of Rockstar, Take Two and the ESRB.

It is not clear whether further hacker activity could reveal additional Manhunt 2 edits, but attempts will certainly be made. Take Two's spokesman could not speculate as to whether hackers might be able to unlock AO content on the PS2 or Wii versions of the game.

On the plus side, new Take Two chairman Strauss Zelnick came clean immediately on the hack. As much as anything, it was Take Two's inept and deceptive handling of the 2005 Hot Coffee affair which allowed it to swirl out of control.

GP: I want to make clear that, according to Take Two, the hack does not reveal the entire AO-rated version of the game, only a portion thereof.

Comments

Re: BREAKING: Rockstar Confirms Manhunt 2 PSP Hack

I love how hated I am. thats ok with me though.

Re: BREAKING: Rockstar Confirms Manhunt 2 PSP Hack

Listen kiddies, I will continue to fight this no matter what all you say or think of me. please stick your heads back up your butt because that's where it belongs.

Well handled. Well done.

Of course, the "testicle kill" animation will not appear in the hacked game because it was most likely completely removed from the code.


Andrew Eisen

@Zen

Ah, that I didn't know.

Still. Comparing the uncut to the cut version of kills, the flashy/patterned/colour thingie doesn't do much.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

aso thats happened is somebody modded and hacked the shit out of it. so what that happens to half life 2 every fucking day.

@linenoise

Go read Matthew's first comment in this thread - this isn't unseen content that could be disabled, it was already being shown, it just had a blur-filter applied. The hack removes this filter, thus showing the same content more clearly.

When Jack loses his lawyer liscense, is he going to change his GP tag to "jack thompson, homeless"?

Will find out if T2 is telling the truth about whether or not this hack unlocks all the censored content, when the Netherlands gets their version of the game. It is supposedly the unedited version, though I've seen no confirmation of this by T2 or R*.

I've actually had a few games where I've had to tweak things because my wife has epilepsy.

Actually, on a tangent, that IS something I'd like to see in more games, is the ability to disable strobe effects like Muzzle Flashes etc.

@Quad9 - Jack's post was probably in for moderating so it wasn't visible at first :)

Quad: As I've said a bajillion times (well, more like ten), the Miami lawyer(for now) 's posts are moderated; when they clear moderation, they appear by their timestamp. He posted first, but by the time his post cleared moderation, a number of posts were already made. His was first, so it magically appeared at the top.

@Paul Kerton -- they also removed the goriest of scenes when they made the changes to fgo from AO to M. I'd bet those were the major, important thing. The blur seems like possibly an "extra step" in order to help make sure the game got its rating fast enough for a Halloween release.

I don't disagree that in theory Rockstar have done anything wrong, but the simple thing is, Rockstar are the poster boys for video violence and they really, really need to play careful, not just for their sake but the industry as a whole.

If the US lobbyists get their way, Rockstar will be a huge part of the cause if they don't start upping their game a little.

@Andrew

I'm unsure were you are all getting the "removing stealth kill filters" data. It's certainly nowhere in this article. I'm basing my argument on multiple quotes from this article: here's one from the bottom.

"I want to make clear that, according to Take Two, the hack does not reveal the entire AO-rated version of the game, only a portion thereof."

From the quote I was given the distinct impression that something that was rated AO was unlocked by this hack. Also, your advancement of my earlyer quote from the article left out where GP notes that it isn't just a rumor not 1 sentence later.

Ryan T.,

“I’m unsure were you are all getting the “removing stealth kill filters” data.”

I’m getting it from other articles all over the internet. Here’s one:

“Hackers defeated that blurring on the version of the game for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Portable.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071101/ap_on_hi_te/games_manhunt2

“I was given the distinct impression that something that was rated AO was unlocked by this hack.”

Well, you’re right. The unfiltered scenes are part of what earned the AO. The hack simply removes the filters enabling players to view the uncensored stealth kills or, in other words, AO rated content.

Andrew Eisen

preciousRoy,

Um, Rockstar was not fined for Hot Coffee and there was no product recall.

I agree that the game’s controversy will fuel its sales but so what?

Also, as far as game content goes, developers can never go too far.


Andrew Eisen

@preciousRoy

That's the point. Nothing shows that the suggestive bits were removed completely, but nothing shows that they're present either.

I'm pretty sure Rockstar wouldn't do the same mistake twice. The blur effect hack is something they couldn't (and to be fair, nobody couldn't either) prevent.

I believe them for now. Just don't jump on the gun like Thompson until there is evidence that they DID hid the content instead of deleting it. Geez, what happened to the "innocent until proven guilty" motto.

And, about the hack, I seriously doubt it's as simple as that. They wouldn't be using .ini files on a PSP software. And a blur effect that is triggered as certain actions could not be simply written in a simple configuration file (I'm taking programming classes so I know what I'm talking about).

@ Lard: I enjoy the positively surreal experience of interacting with an unstable attention whore on a site that refutes his BS.

Jack,
Serious question here (since I am honestly not sure): Can the ESRB sue Rockstar for misrepresentation that hurts the ESRB as a company? Please email me back.

Hmmm... I love it when Jack is proved wrong about absolutely everything he says out of his gaping, ugly, pious mouth and then comes back with another ludicrous comment ignoring the others because he has no leg to stand on. He'll ignore this comment, so this is the perfect moment to tell him that he fantasises about Keith Vaz rubbing him with baby oil every night.

Anyway, I thought he'd be terminating his internet contract to save money to contribute cash to his Westboro buddies...?

Also, if I'd modified the game code of the PS2 smash hit "The bible story" (oh yeah, it exists, folks!) and replaced all the innocent images with horrible depraved pornographic images, surely that would be the work of a hacker and not the developer? Likewise, obtaining the iso image (illegal), modding your psp (illegal), modding the code (illegal) and running the iso on it (also illegal) is somehow R*'s fault?

Fuck you Jack. You make no sense and your book is shit. The funny thing is you probably have gamepolitics set as your homepage as no one else will actually bother addressing you anywhere else. You're pretty much laughed at in all lawyer circles.

And if you ever set foot in the UK, I'd make sure you got a laughing stock reception for the utter buffoon you are, you utter waste of sperm.

Rockstar and Take Two are held responsible for unauthorized use of their copywritten code on illegally modified machines. However, Microsoft is never punished for their continual sale of a severely flawed product. If Ford or Toyota said that the non-working seatbelts would be fixed in the next model year, they would cease to be. If someone takes advantage of a flaw in Windows that allows a denial of service attack on a corporate network, the people who perpetrate the attack are to blame. It's not those who created the faulty product that allowed the attack and didn't properly protect it's customers. Why aren't all software developers are held to the same standards?

Ok, let's get over the hatred of me. This is a huge news item, whether you agree with me or not. The ESRB made it REALLY clear that if a developer left code in a game that could be unlocked, then that would be a huge violation of ESRB rules.

If the ESRB allowed any code to be left in which could be unlocked, then the ESRB is a goner. That is not an exaggeration. Dennis, you know how serious this is.

Bravo Rockstar.

You know, if they're not going to learn from their past mistakes, then I'm not going to have any sympathy for them when Jack refuses to shut up.

Honestly, they had to know this would happen asap after release if the changes were this simple to remove. That and I remember some discussion from an earlier date where another group believed that this would happen too. So let the watchgroups freak-outs begin. But on the other hand, he's right...no one is really safe from someone hacking or trying to change the product. I've seen it happen from everything from Super Mario Brothers all the way up to this, Grand Theft Auto, and Oblivion. The hacking in itself is nothing but a game and a challenge to some people.

REMEMBER JACK:

This is for the PSP. That means it's a handheld. Only KIDS play handhelds. Be sure to remember that when you release your million press releases.

Awesome.

At this rate, with this kind of clean behaviour, I might just go back to buying their games.

Unfortunately they have some work to do in terms of credibility. The first thing that popped into my head was "Yah, right... " because I still consider Hot Coffee to be dirty pool on their part, but I'm willing to put a little faith into them this time and give them the benefit of the doubt.

At least they were honest this time. But you know that this is going to be a soapbox for that Thompson boy. The thing is though, that the hack is only to get rid of the color distortions and such, so it's not like Hot Coffee which was left out of the game but still on the disc...this is actually in the game, hackers just alter it.

Rockstar really should learn from past mistakes...

@ PlayItBogart
"You know, if they’re not going to learn from their past mistakes, then I’m not going to have any sympathy for them when Jack refuses to shut up."


I'm gonna have to agree with you, as much as I hate Thompson, I really don't feel sorry for Rockstar.

this is going to be so huge when the cheat code for it comes out on the PS2 version.

As I stated in an earlier thread when the hack was first discovered, this is vastly different from hot coffee. The hack doesn't allow access to a part of the game that was never intended to be in the game at all, but REMOVING a part of the game that WAS intended to be there.

Now my programming abilities are limited to a class in college where we delved into the principles of programming by using Visual Basic...but what are the odds that if I cracked open Manhunt 2 for PS2/Wii, I'd find comments among the lines of code to the line of "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T DELETE THIS OR THE ESRB WILL KILL US"?

Hmm. Is Rockstar possibly baiting Jack Thompson to violate his out of court settlement here?

@Andrew Eisen

You really want to start making bets on that? Sad thing about all this is it could still backfire. Screaming hacks is like throwing the studies on the brain at the general public/watchdog groups, they'll never get it.

@MaskedPixelante

It already has been done on PS2. But the same way, thus requiring an illegally modded system. Which, if you're system is illegally modded, you'd be playing the leaked, uncut version. So why did the hackers bother? I have no clue.

@PlayItBogart

You wouldn't be able to see the lines of code. The code is compiled into an executable that cannot be read. Well... that's not entirely true, SOMEONE might be able to read it, but it wouldn't be in english and comments aren't included (the compiler specifically excludes comments at compile time).

Rockstar didn't do anything wrong here. Anyone (with the right skills) can edit a game.

This all goes back to how programming works. It is much easier to go through and REM a line then it is to delete it and find out later you need the line for something else. This isn't something new in programming...and it doesn't surprise me one bit. I am glad though that Zelnick is standing up and doing the right thing.

The above is the same doublespeak we got from T2 with Hot Coffee. Then they blamed the mod community. These idiots left the edits in, and they were told by the ESRB NEVER TO DO THAT AGAIN! Well, they've done it again, so Dennis, this is MUCH worse. The didn't heed the FTC's warning to nail their butts if they ever did it again.

We encourage them to enjoy our games as they are meant to be played

That is exactly what the hackers are trying to do...

@vellocet

It's an ini file, and it DOES have comments. Just not that one.

I found this amusing though.

"# NOTE: do not add any comments here. the RN ini file reading
# system is very easy to break."

Yep, ol' Jack will be jumping all over this one. Most likely with "This proves the ESRB is a sham!"

@PlayItBogart

I'm sorry... what you said may be entirely possible. The effect that blurs the screen is switched on in a config file. Those are typically in english and are easily editable.

If I am correct, it should not be hard to create a gameshark code to disable it. Likely the difference between the M version and AO version is that a variable (probably labelled MRatedVersion or something like that) is set to true.

Kudos to Take Two for disclosing this as fast as possible. Most of the flack (from the game industry anyway) came from Take Two and Rockstar dicking around and pretending it hadn't happened, it wasn't their code/content, etc.

The disclosure to the ESRB was most interesting actually. So the ESRB can't slap them with any fines for "non-disclosure" over this...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Uh oh...

If you're not interested in the specifics of how this hack works, please stop reading now:

I was a bit interested in how this is really done... so I went to find out... there's a config file called "GLVLSET.INI" in the game that configures a level before it starts. In it, there are 3 lines of code (the first one is a description of what the next three lines do):

# [GK] execution colour ramp options: flash fadein (sec), flash duration (sec), flash fadeout time (sec)
EXECUTION_COLRAMP_TEXTURE FE_execramps
EXECUTION_COLRAMP_FLASH_TIMES 0.25, 0.6, 0.3
EXECUTION_COLRAMP_FADE_TIME 5.0

All you have to do is delete these lines and resave the GLVLSET.INI. Basically you've set those three variables to return null or to have no flash times.

If this is the same way it's done in the PS2 version, there will be a gameshark code out any moment now.

Oh well, just wait for JT I suppose. It's not like its really that big a deal anyways. I mean come on, its the PSP people!

@Tenshigami

Sorry, you're right. I was writing my retraction while you posted yours ;)

From the videos I've seen, the "blurring" effects actually aren't as severe as they were made out to be. The action is still pretty clear, and pretty disturbing.

Shame that as a *game* it still seems to have all the charm of a snuff film. The character animation is still clumsy and stiff, and in terms of polygons, textures, and lighting, it looks no better than the badly aging GTA VC/SA engine. In fact, the cinematic effects make it look better by at least adding a touch of style to some otherwise pretty drab presentation.

They shouldn't really have to be responsible for disclosing information about some nonrelated entities' hacks, though. This press statement should only say "all content that is on this disc has been made formally known to the ESRB and if anyone surpasses our editing system it is not our fault".

As far as "not being able to access all of it" I believe they mean things actually excised from the disc and not just edited, which was what got them in trouble with Hot Coffee (not excising the content and only editing it).

Sad. A game that was probably going to suck in sales anyways is now going to get a nice boost just because of all the attention drawn to it. Manhunt 1 wasn't even good, IMO.

Let it be known that I LOVE Rockstar, however I found this line to be humorous:

We encourage them to enjoy our games as they are meant to be played.

Well, that's why they(the hackers) are trying to bypass the censorship you guys put on the game. Basically, they bought the game and the PSP, so they are free to do with it what they want. If they choose to void the PSP warranty, it's their choice. Hacking a game is not the same as downloading a game.
 
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