Uncut Manhunt 2 to be released in Netherlands?

Dutch Justice Ministry says it won't prevent the release of Take-Two's controversial game, but where did the "uncut" part come from?

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RUMOR CONTROL: Source: The Associated Press yesterday reported that the Dutch Justice Ministry declined to ban controversial video game Manhunt 2, and an avalanche of gaming sites reported it as news that an uncut version of the game would be released in the Netherlands.

What we heard: According to the Associated Press, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wrote a letter to parliament saying that it was not possible to ban the game under Dutch law, as there is no authoritative ratings board for the Netherlands. Hirsch Ballin noted the only possible legal action that could be taken would be against those who distribute it to minors under 16 if the images were ultra-violent, and even this has never been tested in court.

This stands in contrast to other European countries, where games can be banned by government ratings groups. In June, Manhunt 2 was refused a rating by the Irish Film Censor's Office in the Republic of Ireland and the British Board of Film Classification in the UK, preventing it from being released in those countries.

The minister said, "The current law is based on the principle that every adult is considered capable of deciding for himself which games he wants to play, unless it contains illegal material." Hence, the game presumably could be released in all its uncut, gory glory to the Dutch people.

However, Hirsch Ballin didn't seem happy about it. He said it was "the joint responsibility of parents, the audiovisual industry and the government," adding that the government was reviewing the possibility of making new laws to protect children. He also proposed a unified EU-wide ratings standard, saying that could lead to a ban on the most violent games.

Apparently the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) age-rating system doesn't cut it for Hirsch Ballin's banning purposes, possibly because the ratings given by the board are a recommendation only and not backed by force of law. PEGI also isn't entirely inclusive; countries like Germany, the UK, and the Republic of Ireland choose to use their own ratings systems, and their systems are enforced by law.

It's worth noting that the Associated Press report doesn't tie any mention of an unedited version of Manhunt 2 to Hirsch Ballin's comments (at least not in the versions most commonly sourced). Therefore, there's no telling whether the justice minister's letter to parliament was in reference to an edited version of the game or the original, whether the minister even knew of the existence of an edited Manhunt 2, or which version--if any--Take-Two would try to release there.

It's more likely Hirsch Ballin was merely responding to someone else's call for the game to be banned (or inquiry into the possibility of banning it). Given that Dutch law does not allow for the banning of violent games unless they include illegal material like racist propaganda or pedophilia, there would be no reason for Take-Two to seek the minister's approval beforehand. And if Take-Two didn't go looking for his opinion, he likely hasn't had access to the game (edited or not), and is speaking in general terms about the possibility of banning violent games, rather than specifically addressing Manhunt 2.

The official story:Rockstar commented, "It is very good news that Manhunt 2 has now been rated Mature for North America and will be released October 31. However, we have no updated information on the BBFC status of the game or a release of the game in Europe."

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that the game would be allowed on shelves. Bogus that this has anything to do with an unedited version of the game.

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