A spokesperson from Rockstar Games just told me that the Entertainment Software Ratings Board has rated "Manhunt 2," the July title for Wii, PS2, and PSP Adults Only.
More to come shortly...
UPDATE: Rockstar Games provided the following statement to MTV News, citing it to the game's publisher Take 2 Interactive:
The ESRB has issued an initial rating of AO (Adults Only) for Manhunt 2.
We believe the process of rating videogames is to help people make informed entertainment choices and not to limit them.
Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2.
Asked if this would prompt a delay of the game from its early July release, a Rockstar rep said: "That's the last thing we want, but it's too early to say."
UPDATE 2: For more of the story, check out my full report on the "Manhunt 2" U.K. and U.S. ratings controversy at MTVNews.com
UPDATE 3: The ESRB just sent me comment from group president Patricia Vance, who acknowledged the AO rating for the Wii, PS2 and PSP versions of "Manhunt 2," a rating she said was issued earlier this month. She also said:
"Once ESRB issues a rating assignment to a publisher, should it determine not to accept the rating assigned, it has 30 days to either resubmit a modified version of the game to try to obtain a different rating or appeal the rating to an appeals board. As their public statement indicated, Rockstar is currently determining which of these options they will pursue. As such, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
"The ratings assigned by ESRB are based on the consensus of our raters, who consider several factors including not only the content itself, but also elements such as the reward system and degree of player control. It should be noted that this is not the first time that an AO rating has been assigned for violent content, nor will it likely be the last. However, our system affords publishers the opportunity to modify and resubmit games that receive the AO rating in light of the business ramifications that such a rating currently presents."
Sounds like Rockstar has a couple of more weeks to decide what to do. Stick to its creative guns (or shanks, as it were) or change this game to get it on store shelves?