Left 4 Dead 2 banned in Australia

Aussie Classification Board cites "realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence" as cause for antipodean zombie game ban.

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Left 4 Dead 2's planned mid-November local release was put in jeopardy today, when the Australian Classification Board had put its legislative foot down. The Classification Board is the government body responsible for rating all video games content authorised for sale in the country. According to its Web site, Valve's upcoming first-person shooter has been refused classification (RC) for failure to adhere to the current maximum MA 15+ ratings guideline for games. (Only films can reach the board's maximum R18+ rating.) The announcement means the Valve title is now illegal to sell, rent, or promote within Australia.

Artist's representation of the ACB dashing hopes of Australian gamers.
Artist's representation of the ACB dashing hopes of Australian gamers.

GameSpot AU contacted the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, seeking clarification as to why the title was refused classification. An EA spokesperson confirmed the ban but declined to comment on the possibility of edits or resubmission, saying, "We're still working through the submission process with the [Classification Board], we want to explore all opportunities before we can make a comment." The Classification Board was unavailable to provide an overview of the reason for the ban at the time of print.

Left 4 Dead 2 marks the fourth game banned in Australia this year, joining Risen, Sexy Poker, and Necrovision--the latter two of which were approved for sale after being resubmitted with changes. The original Left 4 Dead game was given the maximum MA 15+ rating when it went on sale in Australia in November last year.

Left 4 Dead 2 tells the story of four survivors in the southern United States and is spread across five campaigns, each divided up into several levels. The original Left 4 Dead was praised for its dynamic AI and online cooperative play.

Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for full details as they become available. For more on Australia's classification regime, check out our Censory Overload feature.

[UPDATE] GameSpot AU has received the official ruling from the Classification Board. The refusal largely focuses on the Board's interpretation of the game's violence, finding that "the game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon 'the Infected' who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently."

The ruling goes on to say, "However, it is the use of the 'melee' weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore."

Interestingly the report also notes that "a minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of strong violence," suggesting the ruling was anything but unanimous among Board members.

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