It's Official: Manhunt 2 Rated Adults Only by ESRB

June 19, 2007 -
This just in from Take Two Interactive, publisher of the embattled Manhunt 2:
The ESRB has issued an initial rating of AO (Adults Only) for Manhunt 2.

We believe the process of rating videogames is to help people make informed entertainment choices and not to limit them.

Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2.

Beyond that, T2 isn't talking. It is unknown exactly when the AO was assigned to Manhunt 2, but it would have to have been less than 30 days ago, based on earlier comments by ESRB president Patricia Vance.

GP: For a video game publisher, the economic impact of an AO rating cannot be overstated. It means that major retailers like Wal-mart, which by itself accounts for about 25% of retail games sales, will not carry Manhunt 2. There is an appeal process available to game pubilshers who wish to dispute rating assignments.



Re: It's Official: Manhunt 2 Rated Adults Only by ESRB

I've heard about this game but I have to admit that I haven't played it. All my friends think that it's a great game. I will play it this days I hope.

Re: It's Official: Manhunt 2 Rated Adults Only by ESRB

Pluse the ESRB is just abunch of soccer moms who havent been laid and are in a pissed off mood, they have a personal vendetta against rockstar/take two as The Conan game was able to have topless women in their game without any issues.

soon all the old people who hate video games will die, get murdered, or quit working and all the kids that like games will grow up and the world will like games as much as moives:) but till then it will sux:(

[...] Manhunt 2 isn’t in as dire a situation in the US as it is in the UK, but it’s close. The ESRB has labeled Rockstar’s controversial game with an AO “Adults Only” rating. If the game ships with this rating, most retailers will refuse to carry it, cutting sales massively. The only other console game to have an AO rating in stores? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was re-rated following the Hot Coffee scandal, and quickly re-released in an edited form. [...]

I would like to mention that because of the AO rating: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will not license the game on their systems. That includes WinXP (oh no unlicensed Windows game, good god almighty). With that in mind, we may never see the game released in any form. Pitty, I bet the game is extremely violent, that's a given, but the blame falls upon a lot of other groups other than the ESRB. My suggestion is that an "unknown" employee should release a "pirated pre-release" copy. Wouldn't that be funny? all the companies don't want to see this game on their systems but oops, look everyone is playing it :D

Well, that shut us up ...

And the internet is hencforth set ablaze ....

Aww DAMN now I have to order from the Rockstar website. EB won't be selling it.

Raise your Wiimotes high brothers, and strike down the insolent fools!

ESRB at it again, trying to water down violent content as they see fit.

Uh oh, here comes the shitstorm...

Before the whining gets too bad, I'd like to point out that WE haven't played it, so we can bitch about ideals all we like... until we've played the game and know WHY it was rated AO our opinion is no more valid than the pixel-antis who want to abolish it.

Flame on!


Jbourrie is right. THough I had no intention of playing anyway

Shit, this is Bad.

Does anyone stop and consider that, just maybe, Manhunt 2 might deserve an AO rating? In any case none of us have seen actual footage of how grotesque the game is. The ESRB has, and it's not been too far off the mark in the past. While it's unusual for a non-porn to get the AO it's not without precedent and I can't say I'm overly surprised.
As has been mentioned, this doesn't definitely mean the final game will be rated AO. They can make edits if they want to.
And honestly, I'm not sure if I want to see TT fight this too much. The audience that wants to get the game will have avenues of getting it. Being rated AO might even score it bonus points in certain circles - 'it's so shocking EBStop won't carry it!' And if TT fights to have the rating brought down, it puts them in a very dangerous position in which watchdogs might accuse them of wanting to make the game easier to sell to minors.

I disagree with JBourrie.

ESRB likes to do its part to keep offensive games off the shelves as they see fit. The employees arn't really qualified to rate games, or movies, or anything for that matter.

Its a organization that knows very little about what they actually do and are often extremely biased toward giving video games harsher ratings than say a more legitimate organization would a movie.

I think we all need to take a step back here.

None of can honestly say that we didn't see this one coming. When the original Manhunt came out even mose game reviewers said that its level of violence was just too much. If the sequal is even more bloody than the first how could the ESRB retain credibility and not give it an AO rating? I'll grant that this is supposition on my part but we need to look at the big picture. The game is not, I repeat not being censored. The government isn't saying that the game can't be sold. While some may be irritated that they have to order the game online now, retail stores have the right to choose what they will and will not sell.

Keep in mind too that Rock Star will likely appeal the rating. Though to be fair I'm more than a little agreived that they decided to make Manhunt 2 in the first place. Mainly because its just more bad press for the gaming community.

Im totally buying this game. Its probably not even that great of a game. But Im buying it nontheless merely to support Rockstar/take two. Making it hard to buy is merely a form of subtle censorship. And any kind of censorship on somebodys work/art is wrong.

The ESRB isn't even credible to begin with. Most of them aren't even qualified or educated on the product they are rating. Its obvious because I'm sure if Manhunt 2 was a movie it would be rated R.

Honestly I don't mind the AO rating. What I do mind is the fact that no one will carry AO games. I feel that Wal-Mart and EB Games should carry AO games.

My only other complaint is that if this came out in movie form would it be NC-17, R, or XXX. I think it should be a level playing field.

I have no problem with AO ratings being assigned to ultraviolent games, what I have a problem with is the defacto censorship this enforces because sales are concentrated so heavily in stores which refuse to sell AO products. That forces a constant upward pressure on what is acceptable in M-Rated games, increasing the violence over time, and creates a defacto censorship of any sexual material since no company in their right mind can release an AO product.

Too much power resides in the arbitrary decisions of CEOs at Wal-Mart and the like, and not enough in the hands of the people, the people the ESRB are supposed to be providing a service to.

@ Terrible Tom
Let's ask the MPAA to rate it then. I'd agree that if it was a movie, it would be rated R.

I can't believe this... absolutely shocking...

From the ESRB website:

Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity."

I think its clear that Rockstar have made every effort to make Manhunt 2 THE most violent and bloody game ever to be released - I think an AO rating was to be expected, particularly following the BBFC's decision to ban the game altogether.

I hope the decision to ban the game in the UK is reversed - it is never right to censor a form of expression - the AO rating, however, will most likely stay. R* brought it on themselves and have to hope that the hype generated for them by Jack Thompson and others will be enough to make the game a success in spite of the loss of shelf space in the major retail outlets.

My only question is what separates an M game from an AO game? one year right? I'm curious as to what magically happens in that one year that makes the difference.

@Terrible Tom: Justify your assumption that the ESRB is not credible. I for one think it's quite credible and accurate. Its own two highly publicized recalls were GTASA and Oblivion; it was more or less railroaded into rerating GTASA and probably should have rated Oblivion M in the first place.
Yes, the ratings usually err on the side of caution. If they didn't, the ESRB would catch way more flak than it does these days and might not even have stayed around this long. The government would love to rate (censor) content; the ESRB might do so as well but to a much lesser degree, and we should be glad to have the lesser of two evils.

I would probably like the MPAA's ratings for video games more than the ESRB's

Oh the ESRB doesn't play the game they simply reveiw a collection of its content, so much of what they are rating is forced to be taken out of context. So anyone who argues that we havn't played it yet doesn't have much of an arguement because the only people who have are the testers at Rockstar.

Please stop comparing video games and movies. They're completely different forms of entertainment.

No, some games are very similar to movies. Games are just interactive where movies are not.

Tom there's a reason they don't play the games, they take too long. But don't worry there's a bill in congress that would require them to play games fully, not sure about its chances of sucsess though.

Yea somethings I do take a while but I don't simply half ass it and call it a day, thats pretty much what they are doing.

Both forms express story through action ... hardly completely different ...

Anyway, I just can't believe the dramatic turn around in support for the ESRB, just because the ESRB isn't doing what you guys want it to do.

They have a better basis for making a decision then anyone here does.

How is giving it an AO rating "censorship"? It just means that minors can't buy it.

The ONLY reason Manhunt 2 is getting a AO rating is for the Wii mote option on the Wii. Make no mistake about it. To think that the motion of moving your hands to act out events "trains" you into a killer. By my estimate, and by what people like JT say, about 10+ million people are trained in the art of killing.

Hostel 2 was so violent it wasnt funny. HOWEVER, a 17 year old person can get into theaters to see it. Whats 1 year?

Double Standard alarm goes soi soi soi soi soi soi.


I got to ask how would you suggest they play a game that is 100+ hours?

or a game that has no ending?

When Jack Thompson uses his argument against GTA that players can run around killing hookers and EMT's, he fails to point out that its the players option to do those things. RockStar isn't holding a gun to peoples heads that forcing them to make those decisions, how do you even rate a game based on what someone MIGHT do?

@ Terrible Tom

You are really sounding like a pro-Thompson troll. Fine, you want them to have to play through every minute of the game? Of a game that's over 20 hours? Just to get the same level of verbosity in content rating that movies get, when people whine when they get over 3 hours long?

Get over yourself, alright?

Video game developers/publishers submit examples of all the worst content in the game, that they know of. With the sole examples of GTA and Oblivion being the 2 games that "slipped by" with lower ratings, due entirely to content that either was meant to be pulled and made 100% inaccessible(hot coffee), or was in fact nothing but a texture mesh which is shared between both genders, with the only difference being the model used(the male texture gets stretched over the female torso), to which they put internal censoring in(ugly as sin bras), which required modders to remove in order to "Access."

I'm sorry, your entire argument falls flat. the MPAA wouldn't rate this game any higher than R, if it were a movie. As a movie, it would be no worse than Hostel, because it would then be non-interactive. And you know what? An R rating for a movie, means nothing once it hits DVD and any Tom, Dick and Harry can rent it, or even send their kid to rent it from a video store.

This isn't porn, you know.

And as for the content being taken "out of context"? How, exactly, is it taken out of context? Is using a chainsaw to cut someone's head off less violent if it's in an open field full of flowers, than if it's in a dank basement corridor? Can it be less violent to smash someone against a power box, with glorious intent to kill them violently, if it was meant in "self defense"?

Then again, maybe you don't see any difference between.. say, Heavy Metal and Hustler? Or Venus and a sex doll?

@Terrible Tom

There was a time when the MPAA was a new invention, and it took them a while before they found what was and was not "acceptable". Back when the MPAA was dealing with the "new media" of film, they originally gave The Wild Bunch an X rating for violence, and rated today it would be a tame R. A Clockwork Orange was rated similarly.

Now look at the ESRB, a fledgeling organization and dealing with the "new media" of cutting-edge interactivity. You can't expect everybody to be experts at such a new craft. There are all new challenges when rating interactive content, and the level of interaction (such as motion control) is a challenge nobody has ever had to consider before.

Are you saying that you're more of an expert than they are? What makes you more qualified than they are to rate Manhunt 2? Or is your answer just "I haven't played it, but it should be M rated"?

Are you seriously suggesting that somehow the MPAA is more qualified to rate GAMES? They rate movies, that's what they do, that's what they're good at. They are no more well versed in interactivity than you are, and like it or not the more "realistic" interactivity is likely the reason for this AO rating.

I get the feeling you have an inaccurate vision of the ESRB and "the real world" in your head. Maybe you're young and naive, maybe you're just the type of person who has to "fight the power!", I don't know. But this isn't just a black and white issue. Game ratings are subjective, certainly, but somebody has to make that decision... and like it or not the ESRB are the most qualified people we have for the job.

Anon: that theory will only hold water if the PS2 version of the game receives a lower rating.

This is blasphemy! This is madness! No group, Independent or Government (de facto) bans speech.

Oh come on. Like Bayushisan said, you can't say we didn't see this one coming. So what? It's not the end of the world. Personally, I agree with the ESRB's decision and I think they made the right call. As Vance indicated, thay had already mate up their minds beforehand, so no one can say they were pressured. What's more, the CCFC and JT can both shut the hell up and this controversy can all go away. The ESRB has shown they are capable of making their own decisions and are not merely slaves to the industry as so many have charged.

Again, as I said elsewhere, the people who want the game here in the U.S. can still get it. The manager I spoke with at the EB Games I was at earlier this afternoon said he would still sell it at his store regardless. The rating is just there to drive home the point it is not for kids, plain and simple. AO need not be NC-17. It is not the kiss of death. If people want the game, they can find a way to buy it. This will help to silence the critics as there won't be any doubt who this game was made for. And if there is enough demand, then other rteailers may change their policy.

More badnews for rockstar again.

It most likely deserves the age rating (and at least youll still be able to get it!) but its bad news in the way that most stores wont sell it.

I don't know if the game should have got an AO rating since I both haven't played it and that rating is usually reserved for porn games but Rockstar brought this on themselves. They are releasing a game whose purpose much like the Saw movies, is based upon the most horrid, graphic violence possible. The only reason this is on the Wii is because they want to give people an even more realistic level of control. This is a game designed to be graphic and depraved and when they base it on that after screwing around the ESRB with Hot Coffee, I don't really think they are in a position to whine about this now. The ESRB is there for the benefit of consumers, not to protect publishers who want to create twisted content (which they have every right to) and want it rated to simply get to the most people possible (which they don't have an automatic right to.)

"It means that major retailers like Wal-mart, which by itself accounts for about 25% of retail games sales, will not carry Manhunt 2."

Meh, fuck walmart. People should be TRYING to stop walmart from carrying thier games/movies/music/whatever, just so that the people who want to buy said product will finally start giving their money to a better retailer. You don't see any Nine Inch Nails music in walmart, and it certainly isn't hurting Trent Reznor's pocketbook. So like I said, fuck walmart.

"This is blasphemy! This is madness! No group, Independent or Government (de facto) bans speech."

This is business. Overreact much?

Nobody is banning speech. Nobody banned anything. The ESRB put a rating on a game. Now retailers can choose to do what they will with this game, and if they choose not to carry it then you buy it somewhere else.

GameStop is probably giddy right now, because they're going to get all of Wal-Marts customers :)

Has it occurred to anyone that this is Rockstar we're talking about?

This company sucks. They have YET to release a good game, seriously. I've tested each one and they all suck harder than the last. They just want money at this point. God forbid they should lose money on a game that's already available on other platforms and sold in said retail outlets.

The Wiimote, whether you think so or not, is definitely a worthy factor to consider when rating this game. The system has a much broader target audience than the Playshit 3 and the Xbox 3sucky. An audience that ranges into a very young demographic. For an example, see the new Mario Party commercial where a bunch of 12 year old girls are having a slumber party bouncing on their beds playing the game. That's not to say those same girls would have ANY desire to play Manhunt, but that's far outside the point. The point here is, there is a different level of interaction and a much broader audience to consider.

The ESRB was facing serious pressures, the game got banned in the UK, it'll probably be banned in Australia, what do you want them to do? They have the parents to answer to, not Jack Thompson, not Rockstar, their actual clients, the parents.

So sorry that this is something that offends you guys, believe me I'm on the side of justice, but I'm going to have to side with the ESRB on this one. Perhaps instead of just instantaneously getting mad that you won't be able to get the damn game in a store, you should take an objective look at the matter and realize that this is a bit bigger than some Jack Thompson hullabaloo or whatever you may see it as.

I honestly think they WANTED to push it as far as possible. They said before that they wanted to push beyond the limits of violence that have ever been seen in video games. They did it, and getting an AO rating based SOLELY on the level of violence and subject matter in the game, isn't a bad thing for them. It's what they wanted to aim for, and they pulled no punches.

If anything, they probably added more gratuitous violence to the game and more bloodshed, just to push it over the top. If you set out to break records, you want to remain on top as long as possible. It's going to take a LOT to beat a game that was crafted to be as vicious as this one, so it'll wear its AO crown with pride.

"GameStop is probably giddy right now, because they’re going to get all of Wal-Marts customers"

Newsflash: Gamestop refuses to carry AO titles too.

Knowing nothing about the game's particular rating-defining content yet, I see no reason to assume this is not a proud occurance for both the ESRB and Rockstar.

If the game had content that fell into the ESRB's "Adults Only" guidelines, good for them for rating it "AO." Consistency is the best any content ratings system can hope for.

If Rockstar sells the game with the AO rating, good for them, too. It shows they are willing to stand up for the content they are creating, and not buckle under the pressure from mainstream retailers to edit their vision.

If a few more high-profile "adults only" games like this start to sell through, it might even help the general public start to realize that video games are not "kids only" after all.

"Newsflash: Gamestop refuses to carry AO titles too."


A local gamestop was carrying the re-rated AO San Andreas, you just had to ask for it at the counter. They may have been breaking company policy, of course, but I have my doubts that they wouldn't take full advantage of the situation to get the extra customers.

I called Gamestop and asked them about their AO game policy and they said they refuse to sell AO games.

Uhh, there's a sex scene. I'm sure that has something to do with the AO rating, not just the violence. Everybody is making it out like the violence is the only thing taken into account. When I see animated sex, complete with full on nudity and pelvic thrusts, then yes, I would say that deserves an AO rating.
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