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Manhunt banned in New Zealand

Rockstar takes another hammering.

It's turning into a rather bad week for Rockstar Games. Following a significant hullabaloo over a scrap of dialogue from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one of the publisher's most recent endeavours, Manhunt, has now been banned in New Zealand, with the classification office there ruling that its availability was likely to be injurious to the public good, and chief censor Bill Hastings citing its likely effect on "players of any age".

"It's a game where the only thing you do is kill everybody you see," he said this week in an article which appears here, before drawing attention to the game's mechanism of mild, medium and hot kills. "When you go for the hot kill, you actually see the snuff film," he said. "You see the person being killed in close-up. With the plastic bag, for example, you see the victim's mouth gasping for air inside the bag."

According to comments made this week, however, Mr. Hastings does not hold similar convictions about the Grand Theft Auto series, which he reportedly conceded had an element of humour. In his words, Manhunt "has none of that whatsoever. In fact, you're rewarded for making the kills as gruesome as possible because that's the only way you can unlock the four bonus levels."

"The only way you can accommodate the game's images is by an attitudinal shift," Hastings told "You have to at least acquiesce in these murders and possibly tolerate, or even move towards enjoying them, which is injurious to the public good."