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Manhunt 2 rated 18+ in US

Slasher game maker wanted 17+

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Rockstar Games' Manhunt 2 may have been banned for sale in Britain, but it has been rated Adults Only (AO) in the US, the developer's publisher, Take-Two Interactive, has confirmed.

Take-Two said it believed an M rating - for Mature - was a more appropriate classification, and said it was "exploring its options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2" - language, we'd say, that indicates it may appeal against the AO rating.

The AO's rating's age band is 18 and up, while M's is 17-plus, so there's not exactly a lot in it.

The US rating comes courtesy of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an industry-founded body that rates games in order to provide US consumers with guidance on what age range a given title is suitable for. Unlike the UK's rating system, overseen by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the US scheme is not backed by legislation to prevent, say, a retailer selling an adult-oriented game to a minor.

The ESRB's decision was welcomed by the US Center for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), which had been lobbying the organisation to give the game an AO rating because "in Manhunt 2, players can saw their enemies’ skulls in half; mutilate them with an axe; castrate them with a pair of pliers; and kill them by bashing their heads into an electrical box, where it is blown apart by a power surge. On Wii, players will not merely punch buttons or wield a joystick, but will actually act out this violence...

"...One review describes using a saw blade to 'cut upward into a foe's groin and buttocks, motioning forward and backward with the Wii remote as you go'."

Manhunt 2 is due to go on sale in the US on 10 July for the Sony PlayStation 2 and the Wii.

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