Starbreeze’s shooter take on classic Bullfrog property Syndicate has been Refused Classification in Australia, effectively banning it from sale.
The classification listing shows the decision was made on December 19. The Classification Board’s report indicates the game was found to contain content “unsuitable for a minor to see or play”, as per the Classification Act, in this case “violence that is high in impact”.
While the report does not provide a complete list of the content which sparked the decision, it notes several examples. Combat is described as “intense” and weapons, which include shotguns, high-calibre revolvers, sniper rifles, assault rifles, rocket launchers, laser guns, grenades and a g290 minigun, are said to cause “decapitation, dismemberment and gibbing” (pieces of a character coming off).
“Combatants take locational damage and can be explicitly dismembered, decapitated or bisected by the force of the gunfire. 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,” the report states, discussing an example mission.
In another definite no-no, players can inflict injuries on corpses.
“It is possible for a player to decapitate a corpse with a headshot before individually blowing off each of its limbs. Depending on the weapon used, it is also possible to bisect a corpse, with realistic ragdoll effects noted. The depictions are again accompanied by arterial sprays of blood and detailed injuries that include protruding bone,” the report continues.
Moreover, the game offers a number of situations in which the player has the choice of harming or sparing civilians, subject matter which was the cause of much controversy when included in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
“Civilians can be shot, accompanied by copious bloodspray, but it is not possible to decapitate or dismember them. It is noted that in cooperative play, points are awarded for civilian casualties,” the report adds.
The report concludes that the game’s detail decapitation and dismemberment, along with its post-mortem damage, make it unsuitable for a minor to play.
EA has the option to appeal the decision, and may opt to censor the game in line with content guidelines. Syndicate was expected to go on sale for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in February, in line with international launch.
Australia’s highest ratings category is MA15+, with strict guidelines as to what content is considered acceptable within these limits. Content considered too strong for this category or otherwise objectionable are Refused Classification, and cannot be sold within Australia.
Recent high-profile RC cases include Mortal Kombat, which ultimately skipped the country entirely; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, which was altered to meet MA15+ guidelines; and The House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut, which was initially refused classification but was later reclassified as MA15+.