first_imgIn a move that effectively amounts to an outright ban, but which is defended as a mere refusal of classification, the Orwellian — I’m sorry — Australian Classification Board has rendered Saints Row 4 unsalable in the country’s retail stores. The body cited numerous problems, including implied sexual violence and incentivized drug use. Though the whole point of the game is to be as tasteless as possible, the series’ Postal-like agenda has always been supported by a more solid fundamental game and, crucially, a more competent comedic execution. The fact that the game aims to satirize the excess of the behaviors it portrays is either unimportant or utterly lost on this government body.The Australian government has a history of banning video games, but in the past the decisions have been largely due to specific instances of violence. For example, Left 4 Dead 2 was banned for “relentlessly gory violence,” but a simple blood-removal and limb-reattachment patch was all that was needed. In this case, the problems are much more fundamental to the tone of the game, and a reworked edition for the Australian market will be significantly more work.Put those fingers back on or it’s no go, mate!Volition Software (an ironic name at this particular moment) is working to create an Australian version of the game which will receive classification without reducing the game’s “outlandish gameplay.” Australian PC gamers have more options for getting around the ban, such as purchasing non-Australian keys redeemable on Steam. For console gamers, the choice is between importing, or waiting for a censored version.If I know the tendencies of that team at all, their efforts will include a few additions to offset the subtractions; don’t be surprised to see a few gentle or not-so-gentle jokes at the expense of the outback nation. Anything from a kangaroo suit that renders the player invulnerable, to direct references to certain politicians is possible; with the guys at Volition, just about anything can and should be expected.What should also be expected is more of these sorts of clashes between games and regulatory bodies. Even in the case of games that set out to shock for artistic reasons, like Spec Ops: The Line, the increasing visual fidelity of games will necessarily bring them into conflict with groups like these classification boards. In the original Prince of Persia, it was cute to see a man crushed by a huge metal trap; in Frostbite 3, might it elicit a slightly different reaction?last_img