Sega's The House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii put the smut into zombie busting when it was released to critical praise and earned the dubious honour of becoming the recipient of the Guinness World Records Gaming Edition's accolade for Most Swearing in a Video Game. The postlaunch award came in spite of the Wii game clearing the ratings bar at the maximum MA15+ rating in Australia, with descriptors indicating only strong horror violence and making no mention of coarse language.
Two years since making it to the Australian market on Nintendo's family-friendly console, the title has received an update to its visuals and gameplay for rerelease on the PlayStation 3, but is again skirting controversy. Today the Australian Classification Board updated its website to include a listing for the game, but revealed that the high-definition version of the title could not be accommodated under the same MA15+ rating afforded to its Wii counterpart.
Listed on the Australian Classification website with a refused classification status, Sega, the game's Australian distributor, confirmed to GameSpot AU that the game has received the non-rating, which effectively bans it from sale locally. The publisher is currently preparing an official statement, but did reveal that despite the "modified" version listing, this was the game's first submission to the board and that the publisher intends to appeal the decision. Stay tuned for full details as they come to hand.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut was due to go on sale in Australia on October 27 this year, which will include support for Sony's PlayStation Move motion controller and additional levels. Today's news comes just weeks after the federal government forged an in-principle agreement with all Australian state and territory ministers on the introduction of an R18+ rating for games.
UPDATE: Sega Australia has issued a formal statement reiterating its intention to appeal the ruling.
"Sega Australia are determined to appeal the decision immediately and hope to have the classification overturned without making any changes or amends to the final game."
Sega managing director Darren Macbeth has also weighed in on the ban in a written statement, saying he believes that "there are far worse titles currently available in the marketplace, which involve more than shooting down mutants in humorous circumstances. We will do everything we can to prove that House of the Dead: Overkill is worthy of an MA15+ rating in Australia."
Stay locked to GameSpot AU for more details on the banning.
UPDATE: According to the Classification Board of Australia's report into the decision, the game was refused classification for violence that is high in impact.
"The game contains very frequent, unrelenting and detailed violence accompanied by copious blood and gore detail inflicted on zombies and mutant beings," the board report states. "The player can use a variety of weapons including a crossbow that causes the zombies/mutants to explode on impact as well as handguns, hand cannons, machine guns, mini guns and assault rifles that may cause decapitations, dismemberment and blood spray.
"The 'Hardcore' game mode allows the player to play in a manner that exceeds strong in impact engaging a headshot-only mode which results in frequent, detailed blood and gore as the zombies and mutants heads explode into bloody pieces that spread around the environment and onto the screen. The game also contains an 'Extra mutants mode' which increases the amount of mutants the player must kill to proceed, resulting in an increased intensity and frequency of violence.
"In addition the game contains a baby mutant that jumps onto the screen and explodes into bloody chunks when killed.
"In the Board 's view the additional modes included in this modified version and the interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high."