It's getting to be an old story: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin has been refused a rating by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in Australia.
Few details have emerged at this point, although we've asked both the OFLC and F.E.A.R. 2 publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for insight on the issue. In some ways the refusal of a classification isn't too surprising; the original F.E.A.R., released in 2005, was bloody, spooky and crazy violent. But it was also given an MA15+ rating in Australia, clearing it for sale to teenagers with no fuss that I can recall.
So what's happened with F.E.A.R. 2? Either Monolith has really stepped up the blood-n-guts factor, or the OFLC is becoming more restrictive about what it does, and does not, allow on store shelves Down Under. I honestly don't know which it is, but I can't shake the feeling that we're seeing stories about "refused classification" games in Australia coming out with increasing frequency. Games On Net says this is the fifth release this year to be turned down by the OFLC: Dark Sector and Fallout 3 were both edited to appease the censors, while Shellshock 2 and Silent Hill: Homecoming remain banned.
Are improvements in technology that drive ever-increasing levels of realism in games to blame? Or is it the shift to a more "cinematic" narrative, which presumably creates more immersive, and therefore dangerous, experiences? Not that it's easy to nail down decisions like these when the criteria behind them is specious at best: When a game is banned not because of the exploding skulls, shotgun vivisections and hacked-up bodies hung from meathooks on walls and ceilings, but because a healing agent in the game is called morphine instead of "generic game-appropriate first aid," something is very wrong.
We'll keep an eye on this and update with details as they become available.