M-rated Manhunt 2 due on Halloween

Rockstar Games will release a "modified version" of the controversial action game re-rated by ESRB at the end of October.

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Rockstar has never been a company to shy away from controversy--if it isn't the "Hot Coffee" scandal in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it's the furor from the press in the weeks before the release of Canis Canem Edit (known as Bully in the US), or the banning of Manhunt 2 in the UK and Ireland.

While a game cannot be banned outright by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board in the US, it can receive an AO for Adults Only rating, which is a similar kiss of death due to release and sales policies; many major retailers in the country will not stock AO-rated games, and Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft refuse to allow them on their systems. Manhunt 2 was handed down this rating from the ESRB.

After Manhunt 2 received the AO rating, Take-Two suspended the release of the title while it "explored its options." In a recent conference call, Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick promised shareholders and journalists that the title would be released.

Today, he gets his wish, as Rockstar Games announced that a "modified version" of Manhunt 2 has received an M for Mature rating for ages 17 and over, and will be released on the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, and Wii in North America on October 31.

The company did not comment on what had been cut from the title in order to achieve the lower rating. The ESRB assigned the following content descriptors to Manhunt 2: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and Use of Drugs.

Sam Houser, founder and executive producer of Rockstar Games, commented, "Manhunt 2 is important to us, and we're glad it can finally be appreciated as a gaming experience. We love the horror genre. Manhunt 2 is a powerful piece of interactive story telling that is a unique video game experience. We think horror fans will love it."

The company is also appealing the ban in the UK, but this is a lengthy process which could take months.

Rockstar had not returned calls for comment as of press time.

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