Ireland bans video game 'Manhunt 2'

For the first time Ireland has imposed its ban on a videogame, what it called "gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence" in the latest offering from the controversial Rockstar Games.

Irish film censor John Kelleher said "Manhunt 2," which has already been banned in neighboring Britain, features "sustained and cumulative casual sadism." He said some games could justify their depictions of bloodshed on story-telling grounds.

"However, in the case of 'Manhunt 2,' IFCO (the Irish Film Censor's Office) believes that there is no such context, and the level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence is unacceptable," Kelleher said in a statement.

Kelleher conceded that players who wanted to get a copy in Ireland could do so over the Internet from suppliers in continental Europe, where televisions and game consoles use the same PAL broadcast technology.

"Manhunt 2," which is scheduled for a July 10 release on Nintendo Co.'s Wii and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 consoles, depicts the escape of an amnesiac scientist and a psychotic killer from an asylum and their subsequent epic killing spree. It carries an Adults Only rating in the United States and Canada, restricting its retail availability there.

Rockstar and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., have long been a focal point for debate over the effect of video-game violence on children. Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto" series features characters who develop underworld careers through bank robberies, assassinations, drug-dealing, pimping and other crime. Two years ago Rockstar was forced to replace its first edition of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" after a hacker discovered a password-unlocked game inside it that involved a graphic sexual encounter.