The Syndicate reboot gets the thumbs-down from the Australian Classification Board.
Australia might be slowly working its way toward a functional videogame rating system [or then again, it may not] but until it finally gets there, the old rules still apply. That's bad news for Aussie gamers looking forward to the upcoming Syndicate do-over from Starbreeze, because the Australian Classification Board has determined that, under those old rules, the game is too intensely violent for kids and thus should be played by no-one.
What's the hangup? This description of a sequence involving a "G290 minigun" taken from the Classification Board report on the game sums it up rather nicely. "Combatants take locational damage and can be explicitly dismembered, decapitated or bisected by the force of the gunfire," it says. "The depictions are accompanied by copious bloodspray and injuries are shown realistically and with detail. Flesh and bone are often exposed while arterial sprays of blood continue to spirt from wounds at regular intervals."
Totally awesome! Also, I think most of us would agree, totally not for kids. But Australia's game rating system isn't built to accommodate adults, so if it's not for kids, it's not for anyone.
"In the opinion of the Board, the game contains intense sequences of violence which include detailed depictions of decaptitation and dismemberment that are high in playing impact," the report says. "The game also contains the ability to inflict repeated and realistic post mortem damage which exceeds strong in playing impact. It is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and should be Refused Classification pursuant to item 1(d) of the computer games table of the Code."
Kotaku Australia says EA is "preparing a response" to the effective ban, although it seems unlikely that the game could be toned down enough to get it under the wire, at least in time to make its planned launch in February 2012. And even if it could, who would want to play a neutered, sanitized Syndicate when the rest of the world is wading hip-deep through the blood [and bone, and bits of brain] of its corporate rivals? That's just no fun at all.
UPDATE: EA's "response" to the situation is to more or less tell the Australian government to get bent. "The game will not be available in Australia despite its enthusiastic response from fans. We were encouraged by the government's recent agreement to adopt an 18+ age rating for games. However, delays continue to force an arcane censorship on games - cuts that would never be imposed on books or movies," Tiffany Steckler of EA Corporate Communications told Joystiq. "We urge policy makers to take swift action to implement an updated policy that reflects today's market and gives its millions of adult consumers the right to make their own content choices."