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Has Rockstar gone too far?

Feature: Is there method behind the madness?

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Great fun on a blank screen, but admittedly the actual game requires the sort of mind of a seasoned gamer, who can distance themselves from what's real, and what's FPS fodder. Of course it's never been proven that videogames drive people to murder, but if a single one-in-a-million case can be prevented, the BBFC has to do what it sees fit.

IS IT A "MURDER SIMULATOR"?

Perhaps one of the reasons we, and NGamer, didn't find Manhunt 2 nearly as shocking as the mainstream media is currently claiming it to be, is because, really, all the violence is in the context of the game. Compared to the first Manhunt, the production value in the sequel are through the roof. Voice acting is superb, cut-scenes could be straight out of a modern day horror flick and a subtle television haze visual effect gives the whole game a gritty, unsettling visual feel.

Zoom
Bosh!

Similarly, a shed load of depth has been lavished on each character. You're not just a bloke on a random killing spree; you have motives and reason to be straggling these security guards with a plastic bag. Danny, the main protagonist, even reacts to his actions; after your first kill Danny is literally sick on the floor, and questions the morality of his actions.

But it's just come all too quickly; Manhunt's naysayers are still sore over the first game, and the general public is only just warming up to the totally new way to play games offered by the Wii. First they saw Wii Tennis and now all of a sudden we're using the Wii Remote to cut people's heads off, a step even closer to the "murder simulator" Jack Thompson has been shouting about for almost four years.

GAMERS IN THE CROSSFIRE

As gamers we're all pigeon holed into liking extreme videogames and being mental cases on the brink of committing mass murder, and obviously cases like Manhunt's on the front of every London paper isn't doing this image any favours.

This isn't fair - there are millions of games out there and millions of gamers that enjoy games responsibly, yet every time a game is mentioned in the press it's linked to violence and we're given a bad name. Are movie-goers branded as blood-lusting mentalists when films like Saw and Hostel are released? No, the director is.

Ratings of course are a good thing; the BBFC action proves that the industry is regulating itself and violent games aren't out of control. But kids aren't the only ones who play games any more and there should be a market for adult gamers.

Unlike Hollywood the games industry is still incredibly young, and the mainstream public are only starting to understand what it's all about - especially major revolutions like the Wii which let us interact and immerse ourselves in our games like never before.

Toy guns and a lightgun games aren't a problem, mainly because enough American homes have real ones behind the couch anyway. In comparison, how many homes have Wiis in them? That's why we think games like Manhunt cause such a commotion, while equally-violent films are overlooked as simply being aimed at a certain audience.

In terms of content, what we've seen and played of Manhunt 2 is no worse than your average horror flick or extreme first-person shooter. The game could be cut to counter the ban, but where the PS2 version's concerned at least, we'd like to play the game as it was originally intended.

Using a Wii Remote-style tool to simulate violent murder in any entertainment form though is a touchy area though, and we think maybe Rockstar has moved in too soon. Perhaps the Wii version will have to take the bullet this time around, until the idea of motion-sensitive stabbing is a bit more un-taboo amongst the mainstream public

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