Friday, June 22, 2007

Too Much Hunt, Not Enough Man

I just saw this little tidbit in the news concerning the game Manhunt 2 and figured I'd weigh in on this one. The tidbit:
Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software said on Thursday it has suspended plans to sell "Manhunt 2" after the title was slapped with restrictive ratings for its extreme violence.
Well, now. Before we go further, let's check out the reaction.

British Board of Film Classification Director David Cooke said they didn't much care for the game due to
"its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."
Wow, "sustained and cumulative casual sadism." I suppose 'sporadic and specific' sadism would have been acceptable. I would also think that "visceral killing" could be quite a bit more than a 'little' alleviating when escaping an insane asylum which I'm sure rivals Dante's Inferno for punishment. But that's just me. Take-Two Interactive Software Chairman Strauss Zelnick said nah-baby-nah:
"We continue to stand behind this extraordinary game...['Manhunt 2'] brings a unique, formerly unheard-of cinematic quality to interactive entertainment. It is also a fine piece of art. I stand behind it fully."
Funny thing is, they are probably both right in their own cocktail circles. There isn't much in the way of analysis of the game's plot line other than it appears one has to fight one's way out of an insane asylum. Probably with more than a compelling argument.

This happens every once and awhile--someone tries to push the envelope for what's acceptable in a video game. I especially appreciate the "bleakness and callousness of tone" which they claim exists in the game. Shocking. The problem for Take-Two is the list of stores which sell 'Adult Only' video games is basically Truck Stops. Unless they tone it down, which Cooke claims he doesn't think they can do, it might be hard to sell the thing.

I never played Manhunt 1, so I can't can't comment on whether or not there may be redeeming factors in the franchise. I'm sure it's entertaining at some level. I have played a wide variety of games in which the basic premise is to kill people, steal things, blow stuff up, blah blah blah. This must be really bad, which almost makes me want to see what all the fuss is about. Almost. (I found a preview of the game. WARNING: if you don't enjoy stuff along the lines of say, the Saw movies, DO NOT watch this.)

Take-Two should be fine however, because their golden child, Grand Theft Auto IV, hits stores in October. A previous version of that game (San Andreas) sparked a Congressional inquiry when people found a 'sexual encounter' in the game. I can't wait.

I don't really mind ratings on video games, at least anymore than I care about them on movies, TV shows, or music. Of course, I'm over 18 and don't produce media that people rate. Most kids probably use 'em as a beacon, and like moths to a flame...

Professor's Addendum: Apparently the game is banned from sale in the UK, which is a whole different monster. Being hard to buy due to a rating is one thing. Completely banning the thing is quite another. After I watched the preview I found it's not a game I would particularly enjoy, but then I don't like many things others do. Slap a nasty rating on it and move on. One much more in-depth irate reaction is here.

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