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Christmas Gift Guide

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Mortal Kombat series

Night Trap

Night Trap


Manhunt series

Custer's Revenge

Grand Theft Auto series


Wolfenstein 3D

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior


JFK: Reloaded

Leisure Suit Larry series

Duke Nukem 3D

Perfect Dark


Six Days in Fallujah

Kingpin: Life of Crime

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Rule of Rose

Saw: The Video Game

Silent Hill: Homecoming

Left Behind: Eternal Forces

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Bethesda's newly unveiled Wolfenstein title, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, has stirred up a wave of controversy. In addition to its gore, some are upset over the killing of Nazis and KKK members in the game given the current political climate in the US.

Wolfenstein II is far from the first game to erupt into controversy, though. With that in mind, CNET has gathered 23 of the most controversial titles in video game history.

Caption by / Photo by Bethesda

Perhaps the most iconic fighting franchise of all time, Mortal Kombat never skimped on the blood and gore, whether it was Johnny Cage literally punching someone's head off or Sub-Zero ripping out his opponent's spine.

Caption by / Photo by Midway

Released in 1992 on the Sega CD, Night Trap used full-motion video to suggest violence and murder as vampire-like creatures known as Augers stalked teenage girls through a mansion.

Caption by / Photo by Sega

Over a year after its release, Night Trap came under fire in the US Senate. Senators took games like it and Mortal Kombat to task for their graphic content. The hearings eventually led to the establishment of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), which applies ratings to games.

Caption by / Photo by Sega

While racing titles are common in video games, ones that give you bonuses for running over pedestrians are not. That led some countries, including Germany, to censor Carmageddon. Pedestrians were replaced with zombies and robots. Brazil outright banned the title.

Caption by / Photo by SCi

This 2003 survival horror title, filled with gruesome executions, is considered one of the most graphic and violent video games ever. It was banned from sale in Australia.

Manhunt also wound up at the center of the investigation of the murder of a 14-year-old in England. Initial media reports alleged that the killer was inspired by the game, but it was later determined that the title played no role in the crime.

Caption by / Photo by Rockstar Games

One of the first controversial games, this Atari 2600 game from 1982 featured a naked General Custer who rapes bound Native American women.

While the game sold more copies than others released by publisher Mystique, the controversy eventually led to it being removed from circulation.

Caption by / Photo by Mystique

It should come as no surprise that the Grand Theft Auto series has been courting criticism since its very beginning. The games include violence, killing (even cops), drug use and torture.

While GTA has become one of the most popular franchises in gaming with 15 titles thus far, that has not stopped some countries -- including Thailand and the United Arab Emirates -- from banning the series.

Caption by / Photo by Rockstar Games

As the name suggests, Postal follows a man with mental health problems as he kills civilians and law enforcement. The game was popular enough that sequels, spinoffs and a (terrible) film were all made.

Its sequel, Postal 2, was banned in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Germany and Sweden.

Caption by / Photo by Ripcord Games

While Wolfenstein 3D has been celebrated for popularizing first-person shooters, the game was a big source of controversy due to its violence, gore and Nazi imagery.

Caption by / Photo by Apogee Software

This 1987 fighting game was banned in Germany due to its level of violence and blood. Its cover art, which featured a model in a bikini, drew further criticism from those who believed video games were for children only.

Caption by / Photo by Epyx

The sole purpose of this game is, essentially, to engage in a "genocide crusade" in New York City. Its Adult Only rating kept it from being sold in most retail stores, while its extreme violence got it (temporarily) pulled from Steam.

Caption by / Photo by Destructive Creations

Billed as a historical simulation, JFK: Reloaded (2004) recreated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with players taking on the role of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Nor surprisingly, Kennedy's family -- in this case, Senator Ted Kennedy -- condemned the game.

Caption by / Photo by Traffic Software

Loaded with lewd humor, sexual innuendo and a quest to seduce women, the Leisure Suit Larry franchise has always been a magnet for controversy.

It wasn't until 2004's Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude that things went too far though. Australia refused to give the game an age classification, essentially banning it from sale, due to the inclusion of sex scenes and nudity. 

Caption by / Photo by Sierra Entertainment

Not only did Duke Nukem 3D feature violence and gore, but it also included nudity in the form of women the main character encountered throughout gameplay. Australia initially refused to grade the game for sale until developer 3D Realms included a parental lock option.

Caption by / Photo by GT Interactive

Compared to many games on this list, first-person shooter Perfect Dark (2000) may seem a bit tame. Still, it was the first M-rated game to appear on a Nintendo console.

Caption by / Photo by Rare

Doom (1993) mixed graphic violence with satanic imagery, guaranteeing it would be a controversial title. It was initially banned in Germany, though that restriction was lifted 17 years later.

Caption by / Photo by GT Interactive

Six Days in Fallujah, the story of a group of US Marines, drew heavy criticism from military members after it was announced.

Then-publisher Konami elected to remove the game from their lineup. It has yet to be released by anyone else.

Caption by / Photo by Atomic Games

This game proved controversial, in part, as the first high-profile FPS released after the massacre at Columbine High School.

Its portrayal of violence earned Kingpin: Life of Crime a mention in the US Senate. Some stores, including Toys R Us, refused to carry it.

Caption by / Photo by Interplay Entertainment

This game drew heavy criticism for its "No Russian" mission, which allows you to take part in mass shooting attack at a Moscow airport and murder civilians. The mission was removed entirely from the game in Russia.

Caption by / Photo by Activision

While there are many violent survivor horror games, Rule of Rose came under fire due to the young age of the characters in the game.

While it was released in the US on the Sony PlayStation 2, the game was canceled in the UK shortly before release.

Caption by / Photo by Atlus USA

Based on the "Saw" films, this game was seen by many critics as "torture porn," filled with gruesome death traps. Still, even with its graphic content, Saw: The Video Game managed to avoid being banned by any countries.

Caption by / Photo by Konami

The sixth installment in the Silent Hill franchise was also the most graphic. Due to its content, which included torture, dismembered bodies and decapitations, the game was banned in Australia and Germany.

Caption by / Photo by Konami

Based on the "Left Behind" book series, Eternal Forces gained a lot of negative attention. Set after the rapture, you wander around New York City trying to convert those left behind to Christianity... or just kill them.

Caption by / Photo by Inspired Media Entertainment

Publisher Ubisoft opted to censor portions of this game for international audiences, including its alien anal probe scene. Nazi-related imagery was also removed from the German version.

Caption by / Photo by Ubisoft
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