And in a delicious pre-Christmas deal for gamers, we can confirm that Sega's latest - the eagerly-anticipated Aliens vs. Predator - has been Refused Classification in Australia, effectively banning the game for the antipodean market.
Sega Australia have released the following statement:
SEGA Australia can today confirm that the initial submission of Aliens vs Predator has been Refused Classification by the Classification Operations Board of Australia. We will continue to investigate all options available to us, including the possibility of appeal.
We've also gotten our hands on the official report from the Classifications Board to tell us just what was wrong with the sci-fi shooter.
Not surprisingly, according to the Board, AvP contains violence that is "high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play". As we know, Australia's lack of an R18+ rating for video games means that if it's inappropriate for a 15 year old, it's inappropriate for the whole country.
The game contains first-person perspective, close-up depictions of human characters being subjected to various types of violence, including explicit decapitation and dismemberment as well as locational damage such as stabbing through the chest, throat, mouth or eyes. Characters can be stabbed with a Predator's wrist blade or an Alien's tail in depictions reminiscent of impalement. The Predator collects "trophies" by explicitly ripping off human heads, their spinal columns dangling from severed necks. Heads can be twisted completely around in order to break a character's neck. Eyes can be stabbed through or gouged, leaving empty, bloodied eye sockets. It is noted that a player is able to combine manouvres together in quick succession, which further increases impact; for example, a Predator can stab a character through both eyes with its wrist blade and then rip off their head, with spinal column still attached. Extensive post mortem damage, including decapitation and dismemberment, is also possible.
It's not just the violence itself that poses so much of the problem - there are plenty of ultra-violent titles that have made their way onto our shelves. The Board takes offence at the way AvP portrays it this time, with the game boasting plenty of blood and guts, as well as "ample wound detail and visible skeleton". We're not quite on par with China banning World of Warcraft due to the Undead showing off their bones, but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this could be the first step...
The Board also took into consideration the fact that "the appearance of some visual elements of the game" imply that the submitted title may not be the final form of the game as it would have appeared on shelf - but as this is the version presented, it's the version classified (or, um, refused to be classified).
The official decision, therefore:
In the opinion of the Board, the violence in the game causes a high playing impact due to its first-person, close-up perspective, conceptual nature and the level of explicit detail involved in the depictions. The game is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and should be refused classification.
For a game that was many people's highlights at this year's E3, this knockback is a bit of a blow. Given also that Sega have gone on record that they will simply not be releasing the game in Germany, rather than creating a censored version, this could mean that Aussie gamers will also miss out completely on the latest adventures of our extra-terrestrial pals.
We'll keep you posted with all the latest on this saga, including information on whether or not Sega Australia decide to appeal the decision, if they'll go back on their "no-modified release" statement, or if they'll just retreat and lick their wounds.
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