Game Publisher Take-Two has recently confirmed that the ESRB has issued a preliminary rating of AO, or Adults Only, to both the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions of the controversial Manhunt 2.

Adults Only is the highest rating the ESRB can issue to a game.

Manhunt 2 has been the subject of continued controversy for its bleak, gory depiction of murder and executions that go beyond that previously seen in games. The Nintendo Wii version of the game has been especially controversial as the Wii's capabilities enable players to mimic the moves of their on-screen character, essentially stabbing the in-game opponents.

Take-Two issued the following statement to Kotaku earlier today;

"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."

The Mature rating is a step down from the AO rating which the ESRB has preliminarily issued, but games with an M rating are significantly easier to locate and purchase than those with an AO rating, especially as retailers like Wal-mart will not stock any AO rated games.

This mirrors the severe reaction of the BBFC in the UK, which recently banned the game from going on sale within the United Kingdom. The Board cited "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone" and "sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged" as the main objections.

The original Manhunt game was blamed for the death of a boy killed in Leicester in 2004, with some parties claiming the murderer trained himself on the game despite the police opinion that it was a 'robbery gone wrong.'

The ESRB rating, unlike the BBFC rating, is not legally enforceable and the game may still be sold in the US without age-verification.

Tried the original? Did you get dark thoughts and a lust for blood, or did you just want to go hug a kitten and play a semi-decent game instead? Let us know what you think in the forums.
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