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'Frenetic And Unrelenting'  Left 4 Dead 2  Hits Australia Ratings Roadblock
'Frenetic And Unrelenting' Left 4 Dead 2 Hits Australia Ratings Roadblock
September 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

September 17, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 has become the latest in a string of mature-themed titles to hit a snag with Australia's ratings board, which has refused to classify the multiplayer zombie gorefest due to "strong violence".

Australian gamers continue to suffer for the lack of a category for mature content equivalent to the ESRB's M rating; titles that fall into this category are refused classification by the government's Classification Board, which effectively bans them from an as-is release in the region.

Although it noted that a "minority" of the board had judged the game's violence too strong, the Board said Left 4 Dead 2's "realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence" is "high in impact... and therefore unsuitable for persons under the age of 18 to play."

It particularly noted the up-close use of melee weapons like the chainsaw and Samurai sword, which cause blood spatter and limb dismemberment, as a major point of contention.

"The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence," wrote the Board in its full report (link will launch .pdf file). "This, coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore, combine to create a playing impact which is high."

In 2008, Australia's classification board refused to rate numerous titles including Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, Dark Sector, Fallout 3 and Silent Hill: Homecoming. All of these games received edits so that they could fall under the MA15+ rating.

Given that the core of Left 4 Dead 2's gameplay hinges on the B movie-style zombie combat, the title would require significant, perhaps even insurmountable editing challenges to alter the factors to which the Board is objecting.

Last month Tom Crago, president of the region's Game Developers Association of Australia, spoke out, calling the classfication system "antiquated" and a "joke," stating that "we are embarrassed at how backward our government is."

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Frank Smith
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Australia sure does know how to take the fun out of tyranny.

Christopher Wragg
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/sigh economic crisis, lets just get aussies to spend ~180mil off shore rather than allowing local distributors to sell it. One hopes the different branches of the gov start talking to each other, so the fellow who distributed the stimulus package can see that someone on the other side of the gov is sending all his *well* spent money overseas. I really want the government to finally stomp on the OFLC and realise that it's hurting us as a country as well as hurting us as a people.

Peter Dwyer
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I would love to be negative about the australian governments ruling but, they haven't actually said anything that isn't true. The new melee weapons do make things more violent, especially the swords and axes.

The fact that valve classes the enemies not as zombies but, infected humans seems to have been lost on the article writer too. In this context you are in effect executing sick people. Judging that a bullet to the head is their only cure.

I have and play L4D one so I'm not advocating banning it but, I don't see why anyone would object to it being an 18 given the story and context of the game itself. B-Movie or not, it's all about killing infected, sick people. They aren't living dead at all.

Frank Smith
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If it doesn't get rated it doesn't get sold. There is no 18+ rating in Australia, so they can censor and block from the public any media they wish. The idea of banning any media from an adult is beyond oppressive. The Australian government has even gone to lengths to block online transactions of these medias. Those folks need to reign in their government, take the pacifier out of their mouths, and act like free adults of the world.

Christopher Wragg
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@Frank Smith

"Those folks need to reign in their government, take the pacifier out of their mouths, and act like free adults of the world."

You make it sound so simple, if only it were. Hell if there were a nice formal channel for kicking Atkinson outta office we would, but there aint. All we have to do is hope that enough people complain so that eventually the government listens. Sadly, at the moment, awareness of the issue is low (though growing steadily), meaning that the gaming populace this effects isn't large enough to effect a change. In addition those that are aware, but yet aren't gamers (the people we need also enraged to actually cause change), are all too ready to be swayed by the "protect the children" propaganda the gov currently favours to defend their current stance on totalitarian censorship. This is a major issue mainly due to our already conservative government, to our having no bill of rights which our high court can defend (unlike America), and having an ageing population who form a very large portion of our population. And these elderly currently *like* the conservative government, *hate* games the way the elderly used to hate rock and roll, and *believe* the lies spewed out because they have no real understanding of the issue at hand.

Ultimately change will occur in Australia, eventually the majority of the population will consist of game aware individuals, or enough awareness will be raised that the cries for an effective ratings system won't be ignored. As long as some of us continue to fight the good fight, it's all just a question of time.