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U.K. censors Rockstar's 'Manhunt 2'

Decision means psychological-horror title cannot be legally supplied anywhere in country. The Take-Two division has six weeks to appeal.

The British Board of Film Classification has banned Rockstar Games' upcoming Manhunt 2 for its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying."

The ban, announced Tuesday, means that the psychological-horror title cannot be legally be supplied anywhere in the United Kingdom. Rockstar, a division of Take-Two Interactive Software, has six weeks to appeal, according to the BBC.

Manhunt 2 logo
Rockstar Games

"While we respect the authority of the classification board and will abide by the rules, we emphatically disagree with this particular decision," Rockstar said in a statement released Tuesday. "Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers."

The game (click here to watch CNET Reviews' video preview) is due out in July for Nintendo's Wii, as well as for Sony's PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. In it, players assume the role of an asylum patient forced to kill other characters to escape from a nightmarish institution.

"The door to your cell is open. One choice. Once chance. They took your life. Time to take it back," the promo on Rockstar's site reads.

The title is a sequel to the controversial Manhunt game. The parents of a 14-year-old boy in Leicester, England, blamed that game for their son's violent 2004 murder.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said that banning a game is "a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly."

"Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing," he said in a statement on the organization's Web site. "There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

Tuesday's decision marks the first time in a decade that British censors have banned a video game in the United Kingdom. In 1997, Carmagedden was refused classification in the country; the decision was later overturned on appeal.

Rockstar, of course, has endured ratings controversies before. In 2005, hidden sexual content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas led to an uproar and ultimately to a ratings change.