Australia's restrictive ratings classification system for games has struck again. This time, Activision's upcoming first-person shooter Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back has been hit, with Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) effectively banning the game from sale down under.
The OFLC has refused classification for Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, making it illegal to sell in Australia. Under Australian law, the highest rating that can be slapped on a game is MA15+. Films and DVDS, on the other hand, can carry up to an R18+ rating, which prohibits sales to anyone under the age of 18. Any video games that do not fit under the OFLC's definition of MA15+ are refused classification.
An OFLC spokeswoman said the OFLC board ruled that Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back's "playing impact... was a high impact which exceeded the MA15+ classification". Some specific examples included "close range shooting with substantial blood spray, blood splatters onto the ground and walls, [the ability to] target various limbs of the opponent which can result in dismemberment, and large amounts of blood sprayed which comes from the stump but victims sometime stay alive".
Activision Australia declined to comment on the banning. Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back was due for release in Australia in early 2008.
Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back is by no means alone when it comes to games being banned in Australia. Earlier this year, the OFLC refused classification for Blitz: The League due to its representation of drug use within the game. In 2006, Eidos' Reservoir Dogs was refused classification, as was Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. Other games to be banned in Australia include BMX XXX, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, Postal, Postal 2, Narc and more. The two GTA games listed made it back onto the market after some content changes.