I don’t know who to blame for the fact that Manhunt 2 has been indefinitely shelved by Rockstar Games: the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rated the game Adults Only because of its “excessive violence” (thus ensuring that Sony and Nintendo would never release a version for their consoles); the video-game console makers for being such nervous Nellies, when they already ship violent titles by the truckload — and happily so; or Rockstar itself, for caving in and shelving the game.
Is Manhunt 2 extremely violent? Undoubtedly, considering the first one was, and the second likely ups the ante — considering the player is seeing the game through the eyes of someone who may be a psycopath, recently held in a mental institution. Is that an unreasonable premise for a game? I hardly think so. I played Max Payne and Max Payne 2, and they had a similar theme — including Satanism — and they were great. Moody, frightening, cinematic even. Doom 3 was quite the gore-fest too. And speaking of cinematic, why is it OK for kids to see the Saw movies, but not to play video games? As my friend Clive Thompson asked recently, why is it OK for me to grow up playing violent games, but not my kids?