A quick glance at at Australian Classification Board database shows that Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 has received a rating of RC, ie refused classification and banned.
Back in June, we reported that the refusal to classify games not
suitable for those over 15 was applicable only to brick and mortar sales; however, the ban now applies to downloadable games as well, which means Australian gamers will not be able to purchase this game over Steam, Xbox Live, or through any other legal
Left 4 Dead 2 is set in the Deep South of the U.S., your team of four players must once again fight for survival against a never-ending wave of zombies and mutant monsters.
The Australia's Film Censorship Board have now published their reasoning behind their ban of the video game Left 4 Dead 2:
The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for
persons aged under 18 years to play.
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 player can
choose from a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, machine guns and sniper rifles. 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. Projectile shots to infected humans can cause abdominal wounds
which can reveal innards or even cause intestines to spill from the wounds.
The Infected attack the player in an unrelenting fashion, with numerous foe attacking the player at one time. The use of the “melee” weapons can wipe out several Infected
in one blow which cause the above mentioned blood and gore effects. The player kills a very large amount of enemy characters to proceed through the game. Whilst no post mortem damage can be inflicted, piles of bodies lay about the environment.
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.
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.
Decision: This game is Refused Classification.
Update: Unlikely to be Banned in New Zealand
18th September 2009. Fom blogs.pcworld.co.nz
New Zealand deputy chief censor Nic McCully told PC World the Australian decision would not influence any decision the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification might make: It's different legislation in Australia... they do not have an
R18 rating available to them [for games].
The first Left 4 Dead was given an R18 rating in New Zealand and McCully said that she would be surprised if Left 4 Dead 2 had vastly different content. However, she said she had
not yet received any request from a distributor wanting to sell the game in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature would have to review the game and classify it before it could go on sale in New Zealand.
Update: EA comment on Australia's ban on games for adults
24th September 2009. From au.gamespot.com
Left 4 Dead publisher EA have commented on the Australian ban. Tiffany Steckler, an EA spokesperson, told GameSpot AU that adults should have the right to choose what games they play.
It's funny that a place like Australia, which has come up
with some pretty violent material in the past with something like Mad Max, can effectively ban video games for the same reason, she said.
EA believes that adults should have the right to make their own choices when it comes to the content
Steckler would not comment on whether Valve will make any changes to the game following the Classification Board of Australia's decision.
Valve has formally appealed the Australian Classification Board decision to ban the zombie shooter sequel Left 4 Dead 2 .
In the Australian censor's decision on 17 September, it stated that the game was unsuitable for an MA 15+ rating due
to frequent and intense depictions of violence and graphic depictions of blood and gore. The censor did note in its report that a minority of the board believed the game warrants an MA 15+ classification with the customer advice of
strong violence, the same classification given to the original Left 4 Dead - which may provide Valve with a foothold for its appeal.
Three weeks ago, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board on the grounds that the game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 to play.
Speaking at a press conference in Sydney today, Valve's Gabe Newell confirmed reports that they had appealed the original decision. Newell said the Review Board would announce their findings on October 22.
Newell also revealed that an
edited version of Left 4 Dead 2 had been submitted via the standard classification process. Newell said he thinks this Australian-only version is fully compliant with the guidelines for an MA15+ rating. The Board's classification decision
on this edited version is expected to be announced soon.
We think Left 4 Dead 2 is a lot of fun, said Newell. It's a game for adults. But we're aware that different countries have different restrictions, and we want to make the
choices that make the game the most fun for that country.
However, Newell stressed that this edited version is just a back-up plan in case the appeal fails or takes longer than expected. Our goal is not to ship this second version, he
claimed, while declining to detail what elements had been edited.
A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game Left 4 Dead 2 is classified RC (Refused Classification).
In the Review Board's opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be
accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.
In addition, it was the Review Board's opinion that
there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game
The Australian version of Left 4 Dead 2 has been mutilated to the point of mediocrity.
Everything that made Left 4 Dead what it is, the fear, gore and tension has been removed, and what is Left 4 us is an ugly rotting
carcass of what was once a great game. The disparity between the censored and uncensored versions is huge, as shown by IGN's review scores. IGN AU, the poor guys who had to play through the censored version, gave the game a 5.0, a score unheard of for
such a prestigious developer as Valve. On the flipside, the US team who had the uncompromised version of the game gave it a 9.0.
The level of change is ridiculous, to the point of looking glitchy. Bodies flash away before your eyes (As you can see
in the video at the bottom of the page), burning bodies don't even catch on fire and zombies barely look like they have taken a hit as they crumple stupidly before your eyes. Wait for the part in the video where a zombie bait grenade is used, upon its
explosion the 30 or so zombies simply vanish into thin air, leaving one body behind, which quickly dissipates.
This is a sad moment for Australian gaming. When it comes down to it, we would rather a game not be released rather than having this insult
spread to unsuspecting consumers in Australia. That is also why Gamerz Ink will not be bothering to review this game until we can get a copy on the true version, just like Valve hasn't bothered to make at least an acceptable edited version for
More on the censor's reasons for banning the full version
According to the recently issued review board report, EA argued that Left 4 Dead 2 should be allowed as an MA15+ game due to the unrealistic nature of
the violence . Specifically, the EA rep called out the facts that: the game includes zombies who were not and never had been human; that zombies were fictional characters and that zombie killing was an ancillary component to the central objective of
the game being played online and in multiplayer format; 15 year olds would know that the zombies were fictional characters and could distinguish them from humans and that therefore lessened the impact (but in any event it was not unlawful to kill zombies
which meant that no crime had been committed); and there was no moral issue involved in killing fictional characters.
But the Review Board didn't take those arguments to heart, saying that there was insufficient delineation between the
depiction of the general zombie figures and the human figures as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters . Even so, it was still the violence issue that sunk the appeal, with the Board report stating that whether the objects of the
violence were fictional or real, and whether a 15 year old could discern the difference, is largely irrelevant where the game displays the level of realism this one does .
The Board listed specific examples of violent content within the game,
in the early stages, a body on the ground was shot at repeatedly, a body disintegrated leaving a head on the ground with copious amounts of blood
a fire left a visibly charred body
a body was lying face down on a bathroom floor with
a trail of blood--screaming and moaning accentuated the impact
copious blood including repeated instances of blood splatter on camera lens
in a store with buses and trucks, blood splatters, a body on the ground having been dragged
leaving a trail of blood
a person hanging by fingertips from a beam with fingers being stamped on, another person with arm shot off
swords used to behead and dismember with blood everywhere
in a swamp, with an aircraft crashed,
persons being attacked, as they run towards camera some are shot with blood everywhere and fleeting glimpses of stomach entrails spilling out
a group between several buses shot at, copious blood including on camera lens, and several heads blown
chainsaws used on attackers, heads cut off and lots of blood
exclamations and coarse language from time to time accentuating the impact of acts of violence.
The PC version of first-person cooperative zombie survival game Left 4 Dead 2 has finally been reclassified in Australia with an R18+ rating.
Left 4 Dead 2 was banned when it was first submitted in 2009, games company Valve appealed
the decision to no avail before submitted a cut version for classification. Eventually the censorship board gave this an MA15+ rating. Unfortunately for Australian gamers, this meant that they had to play a version of the game that was missing limb
dismemberment, decapitation, and post-mortem damage.
With this new rating all of the censored content will be restored into the game.
Doug Lombard of Valve added that:
We are making plans to deliver that
version to those who have already purchased the game. We will announce more details on that soon.