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Left 4 Dead 2 Approved In Australia After Edits 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-out-on-a-limb dept.
Last month we discussed news that Valve's upcoming shooter Left 4 Dead 2 had been denied classification in Australia, which meant the game could not be legally sold there. Now, after a series of edits which removed "considerable amounts of gore from gameplay," Australia's classification board has given the game an MA15+ rating. Their new report (PDF) says, "No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground. ... The board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment." The unmodified version of the game may still be approved, pending a review that concludes on October 22nd.
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Left 4 Dead 2 Approved In Australia After Edits

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  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:26AM (#29689691)

    "L4d2 in Australia now significantly less entertaining."

    In soldier of fortune it was just gratuitous, in an over the top zombie game the gore fits perfectly.

    • by noundi (1044080) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:46AM (#29689771)

      "L4d2 in Australia now significantly less entertaining."

      In soldier of fortune it was just gratuitous, in an over the top zombie game the gore fits perfectly.

      You know as much as I agree that the Australian government is just plain silly, I wouldn't say that the game becomes less entertaining. I don't know if it's just me but I'm from the generation where blood is completely irrelevant. It could be gushing and it could be sipping, I would be indifferent because it wouldn't affect me. I grew up watching so many movies with so much blood in them that blood doesn't entertain me anymore. However I do think that it's the Australian governments need to force their christian morals (this is the way I've understood it, that there are many christian politicians pushing nonsensical things, such as this [slashdot.org], correct me if I'm wrong though) on their citizens is far more disgusting than any amount of gore. I just hope the Australian citizens won't take this kind of bullshit. It's up to generation Y to make shit right.

      • by mrsurb (1484303) on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:04AM (#29689851)
        Disclaimer: I am a Christian and an Australian. Christian politicians are pushing some stupid things in this country, such as the flawed Internet censorship proposal. However this ratings decision has not been influenced (AFAIK) by the government, Christian influence or not. The link in which you refer to the iiNet copyright case seems to be influenced by corporations, not Christians.
        • by noundi (1044080)

          This is why I said correct me if I'm wrong, because my assumptions are based on hearsay, and not facts. I like to draw a very clear line between those two.

          This is me [slashdot.org] and this [slashdot.org] is what I based this post on, well actually the response [slashdot.org] to the response. The paralell I drew was that where I'm from, and the countries I've visited (unfortunately not Australia yet) same phenomenon exists. Where christian moralists try to cram their world view (and you have to admit, ultimately it's cramming their religion) d

          • by mrsurb (1484303)

            iiNet agreed to join the internet filtering trial scheme around the same time (Nov 08) as the film companies sued them, so the timing isn't right for Conroy to have pushed the litigation. Not that AFACT would need any pushing.

            In Australia there is some interaction between politicians' Christian beliefs and legislation but much less than other places such as the United States.

            But the idea that Christians can cram their religions down people's throats through legislation has unfortunately been with us sin

            • by pcolaman (1208838)

              And yet in the United States we can enjoy the game without censorship. Your argument was over before it began.

              • by RKThoadan (89437)

                While I suspect you are right, it is possible to want to censor something for reasons other than wanting to impose religious morals.

                We are actually going slightly overboard in calling this censorship. It's a game ratings issue that interacts with other laws to amount to censorship. If they just added another more "adult" game rating everything would be fine. Do you consider game and movie ratings to be a result of religious morals?

                • by pcolaman (1208838)

                  It is censorship, since it is illegal to sell games or movies in Australia if they do not meet the ratings standards, which do not have a Mature/Adult Only rating level like in the US. Call it censorship or not but that is what it is. Thank god I don't live in a country that makes it illegal for me to buy something because it doesn't meet some morality standard. And for the record, I'm a conservative christian, but I'm also a believer in civil liberties and freedom of choice and expression. I don't even

        • by Frogbert (589961)

          Ah but you see the only reason Australia doesn't have an R rating for games is because the South Australian Governor General won't approve it. Guess who is elected on Christian votes?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by mrsurb (1484303)
            South Australia doesn't have a Governor General. She represents the monarch in the whole Commonwealth. Perhaps you mean the South Australian Governor. Governors are appointed by the Queen on the direct advice of the relevant state Premier.
        • by dbIII (701233)
          Remember that just like Joe Bjelkie Peterson they are only Christians for a couple of hours on Sundays. That resident of hell even started "The Logos Foundation" so that he would have a "Christian" group to endorse him before an election after he had disgusted all of the existing churches.
          In most cases "Christian politicians" are really pushing things that have nothing to do with Christianity and are sometimes even opposed to Christian values (consider those "Jesus hates poor people" cults that still call
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Kokuyo (549451)

        While I agree with you that the blood is not needed, it's still pretty strange to be shooting at zombies with no visible damage done to them.

        Frankly, as it stands they could just remove the zombies altogether and replace them with fuzzy forest animals and they could replace the guns with paintball markers. The game would not lose any more immersion, I believe.

        AFAIK, this game is supposed to be one of those "You're all alone (as a group) surrounded by zombies. Will you survive the adrenalin?". Now it's just

        • by noundi (1044080)

          While I agree with you that the blood is not needed, it's still pretty strange to be shooting at zombies with no visible damage done to them.

          Frankly, as it stands they could just remove the zombies altogether and replace them with fuzzy forest animals and they could replace the guns with paintball markers. The game would not lose any more immersion, I believe.

          AFAIK, this game is supposed to be one of those "You're all alone (as a group) surrounded by zombies. Will you survive the adrenalin?". Now it's just a game of tag.

          It is, and it's very fun. I have played it with my friend who owns an Xbox 360. It's a rather difficult game, but it has the same type of adrenaline rush that the game Phobia gave me, many, many years ago. For those who don't know Phobia was a 2D top-down perspective zombie game.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ledow (319597)

            I hate zombie movies. I love Left4Dead.

            It's the panic that makes the game - you can't stand still for a second. If you don't keep watching your teammates, one of them will be picked off (and even one man down is a serious hindrance). It's a constant frenzy of trying to get to your teammates / the end of the level but being pulled, pushed, influenced, taken, steered and forced to make diversions. The zombie gore isn't *necessary* but the atmosphere is quite immersive. The sound of a big baddie scares th

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by UnknownSoldier (67820)

              Seconded. (The only zombie movie I enjoy is Army of Darkness. Can't stand anything else.)

              L4D is great because it teaches:

              a) awareness - especially listening to audio cues of a boomer, smoker, hunter, or panic event. Having the guys in front not make sudden, but predictable moves so they don't get shot in the back by their friends.

              b) Teamwork - learning how to clear room; where to stand as a group; communicating what you're doing and about the environment, such as regrouping when a panic event is about to

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Most PUGs have total NOOBs, but when enough of my friends aren't online I still play them because:

                Add on that you learn to shoot people in the back less when they do stupid things. The best game to teach you this is Star Wars Battlefront II because it has the dumbest fucking AI ever. Your "friendlies" will reliably stop in your line of fire, and throw grenades at you while you're hacking your way into vehicles. It really makes you appreciate good AI, or even mediocre human players.

              • a) awareness - especially listening to audio cues of a boomer, smoker, hunter, or panic event.

                My personal favorite is that players cannot hear the tank's musical theme playing when one is coming while they're covered in boomer's vomit. A team playing together will just have the player who isn't vomited tell others on the mic (and a good team will always be spread out in such a way that even the best barf will only get 3 out of 4), but a typical team of random people on a public server will be confused to hell as to what's going on right to the point when the tank lands on their heads.

      • Well I congratulate you on your preferance for gameplay over a graphical effect but still, sometimes some of us really do just want to see something get blown to hell in a massive spray of meaty kibbles.

        • by Thanshin (1188877)

          "sometimes some of us really do just want to see something get blown to hell in a massive spray of meaty kibbles."

          Max A. Trition - Commander in chief.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MozzleyOne (1431919)

        The trouble is - Valve have a history of putting out really really awesome games. They do this by meticulously honing every single detail to perfection. By forcing them to change the game, our censors have forced us to play a game that isn't as good as Valve tried to make it.

        The sheer fucking ARROGANCE of the concept of a ratings board playing a game and then banning it is what I find the most disgusting. I don't want to play a 95% version of L4D2 because some people in my country decided that, while THEY w

        • >>>The sheer fucking ARROGANCE of the concept of a ratings board playing a game and then banning it is what I find the most disgusting. I don't want to play a 95% version of L4D2 because some people in my country decided that, while THEY weren't harmed from playing it, would DEFINITELY cause harm to others who can't help themselves.
          >>>

          You just gave the short definition of government - other people trying to control your life, because they consider you an inferior serf. These co

      • by mcbridematt (544099) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:43AM (#29690935) Homepage Journal

        The whole issue about an R18+ rating not existing for games in Australia is down to a single person - the Attorney General of South Australia - Michael Atkinson, refusing to sign off on it. All of his counterparts are in support of the R18+ rating.

        His argument revolves around people under 18 being able to obtain the game somehow and the game making an 'impression' on them.

        A fair argument to some extent (when I was in my teens not too long ago there were a few things online that made an 'impression' on me), but the lack of R18+ rating is making the problem worse.

        Unfortunately, his state government seat is a very, very safe seat. If he won't budge until the next election (next year?), I hope some idiot corporation tries to lure him out of government.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Actually, Christianity has suppressed a ton of things related to competing blood worship. They want the body and blood of Christ thing to be their sole property. For example, Amaranth is a grain which is hardier and more productive (and arguably tastier!) than many of those we're used to consuming, not to mention easier on the soil. But it was related to the blood worship rituals of the Aztecs, and so the plant itself was suppressed until fairly recently.

      • by Eskarel (565631)

        It's not actually the Australian government this time. It's the attorney general of South Australia.

        It wasn't banned as such, it just had no classification. The reason why it can't get a classification is because we don't have an AO rating for games, the highest possible rating is MA15+. If it doesn't meet the requirements for that rating there is no rating and games which have no rating cannot be sold.

        From my understanding, fixing this involves agreement from all the state and territory attorney generals.

      • by zoloto (586738)
        For those of us who have or currently work in any emergency responder capacity or an ER, let me tell you the gore you see on TV, in the movies or video games is significantly weaker than whatever you'll find in real life. Ever.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      "L4d2 in Australia now significantly less entertaining."

      Actually, I think the other words are actually:

      "Dear non-australian customer:

      Regretfully, in australia, our game is not as FRICKING EPIC! as everywhere else.

      We're sure you'll join us in the release of a single tear for their sad situation."

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      And to me Soldier of Fortune (SoF) was NOT gratuitous, which is of course the problem with having a bunch decide what you can/can't play, watch, read, etc. To me SoF had an Evil Dead charm thanks to the crazy gore. Just insert your own Bruce Campbell lines and there you go. Funny that folks always complained about SoF and Postal: Share the Pain, when those are the only two games I can think of where you can pretty much play through the whole game WITHOUT killing anybody. And yes, you can do that in SoF by s

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        I *love* Postal 2. Love it. But have you ever actually tried, even on normal difficulty, to beat the game without killing anyone? Personally, I can't make it past Wednesday. The rednecks in the Beer Factory are too well armed & to persistent.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Just for the hell of it I tried and managed to pull it off ONE time and you are right, the rednecks are a royal bitch. The way I got around them was having a "quick switch" set up between the shovel and the taser, so i used the shovel to 'stun" them from a distance and the taser to lay them out long enough for me to get past. on areas where there are more than one redneck you can stand as you are tasering with the redneck you are tasering as a "living shield" between you and the rednecks, as rednecks killin

          • by Jaysyn (203771)

            Playing thru AWP again actually, first time I did it the mod was called AW7 I think. Just bought Postal 2 (again) from GOG.com two weeks ago.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        You can play through Metal Gear Solid 4 without killing people.

      • I should've been more specific, I meant the newest one with the wierd screen obscuring firehose blood. They might have improved it since I saw the trailers with that though.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          That is Soldier of Fortune 3, which I happened to pick up for a whole $6 along with ET:Quake Wars at a grocery store of all things about a year ago. I personally think its "firehose blood" is what gives it a kind of "evil dead" charm. I mean when you can shoot a guy in the toe with a wimpy 9mm and his whole leg comes flying off and blood squirts 20 feet high? That is pretty damned funny, and about as far removed from anything that could possibly be called real life.

          It is a damned shame the later stages of t

          • The second SoF game had the same problem, about half-way through the game it just becomes more work than fun.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              I FINALLY beat that damned slave level, I had to use a trainer to do it, but I beat that damned level. And guess what? It goes back to being fun again, with some really cool levels like one where you gotta fight a boss while riding around in a dump truck avoiding shots and a cool mansion with Russian mob everywhere with shotguns. Very cool.

              So if you spot it in the under $20 bin I would snatch it, and under $10 its a no brainer. If you just cheat your way past that one stupid spot the rest of the game is e

  • Dear Valve (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spyder-implee (864295)
    I know it's not your fault, but I will now be pirating a game I would have otherwise payed for. Deepest Regrets, Mr Gamer.
    • Re:Dear Valve (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nog_lorp (896553) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:49AM (#29689793)

      No no no, you will pay for it obviously. Otherwise you would probably be restricted to non-Steam servers, AKA 1 shitty server. Instead you will download a conversion mod that valve will strangely not mind.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        And, to really mess with the ratings board, the mod should include options to:

        - Transform zombies into live people.
        - Spawn zombies only from any one particular race.
        - Spawn only female zombies.
        - Spawn only child zombies.
        - Remove zombie clothing.
        - Apply many of the previous simultaneously.

        • by srealm (157581)

          Why bother when they just need 1 mod. TO change the faces on all zombies to those of the members of the ratings board.

          • by Barny (103770)

            Its not the rating boards fault, they have to pigeon-hole each media into a slot, the biggest slot we have in Aus is MA16+, meaning anything not suitable for a 16yo to play is not suitable for Aussie audiences AT ALL.

            The Attorneys General need to reach a 100% consensus to change the system to add an 18+ rating to the mix, so the board can mark games as "adult only".

            Considering the average age of gamers in Aus is 30 its a bit fucked up if you ask me. (before you yell "Citation needed" http://www.igea.net/200 [igea.net]

  • So instead of buying the watered-down game, people in Australia will just go download the pirated version of the full game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not for piracy, but I'm not for policies that encourages it, like DRM and censorship.
    • With piracy you can't play the game as nice on-line as with a legally bought copy.
      No, instead the Australians will go to one of their overseas mates living in an unrestricted country, ask them to buy it for them as a gift, and then enjoy the full gore as they play the game (see my previous comment [slashdot.org] on this ban).
      • by Jared555 (874152)

        Might not work when you try and add it to the steam account. Valve might either a: detect it as an out of region game and block it, b: intentionally or not put the same restrictions in as soon as the game updates

    • by zoloto (586738)
      OR those in australia could do one of two things. Either have someone gift the game for them, thereby bypassing the restrictions or change their account's region to something other than australian. Might just work.
  • by muckracer (1204794) on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:46AM (#29689769)

    Judge: "Please explain to me just what the defendant was thinking when he shot the victim in the head?"

    Lawyer: "Well, your Honor, as avid player of computer games he was thoroughly conditioned, that this action would have little to no consequence to the other party. In fact, my client was completely shocked at the amount of blood produced by the unfortunate victim as he had never seen something like that in the very real depictions of violence in his computer games. He also believed, and this may strike us as somewhat strange but was his reality at that moment, that the victim would quickly recover from any damages even if they had been caused by my client. That the unfortunate Mr. Smith didn't 'respawn', as my client had experienced thousands of times before, came as a true surprise to him. We therefore believe, while his the results of his actions are very regrettable he bears no guilt as he merely played according to the rules of his previous conditioning, which suggested no such dramatic outcome! Thank you."

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Nice story.

      This "blood" thing you speak about is from a previous novel? You may want to re-explain it for people who start reading at this point.

      Also, the ending is too predictable. Unless, in a wild twist, the defendent doesn't get praised for what looks like a perfect headshot.

    • Already happened [morningjournal.com]. While the defense didn't quite work, it did raise some alarms.
  • Dear Australia, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @03:49AM (#29689795)

    Please stop your nannystate-ification.... where else will I flee to escape the fascism in the US?

    Sincerely, A US citizen

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      You'll probably have to learn a second language.

      In the meantime, I've heard it's really easy to go to Canada from the US. Going in the other direction, not so much.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:12AM (#29689885)

    Such a dumb policy.

  • ...first they couldn't handle Cartoon Sex (Remember the Simpsons, and the guy who went to JAIL for it?)

    And now, it's blood and gore, what happened to the Prison Country of the world? ;)

    • They expanded the contraband list.

      Anyone want to smuggle me in an iso of L4D2 in their anus? Two cartons of cigarettes, and three of my bitches.

  • I just hope us here in NZ don't get stuck with the watered down version.
  • That watered down crap will be sold to everyone so to keep valve outta any legal trouble .
  • by acehole (174372) on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:30AM (#29689965) Homepage

    Anything that gets them aroused is banned.

  • by Dudibob (1556875) on Friday October 09, 2009 @04:43AM (#29690011)
    Make friends with people around the world to get around this, simply get them to buy you L4D2 as a gift through Steam and because your buddy bought it in a 'unmodded' country, you'll get all the gore! BTW - this does work, a friend buys a German guy all his stuff so he has the gore and then PayPal's him back the cash
  • Replace dead bodies and zombies with Teletubbies. No need for gore then, and it's still fun to play

  • Team Fortress 2 (also by Valve) had problems with the German authorities not approving it with blood & gibs in, so it was changed for that market so that you don't see blood splatters and gibs were turned into cogs, rubber ducks, etc.

    Obviously the way they did this and the fact the game is moddable meant that anyone who wasn't happy with their watered-down version could get the blood & gibs back easily.

    I suspect this will be no different - Valve will comply with the requirements, and the mod communi

    • I wouldn't be surprised if these Australian 'edits' are just the same or pretty similar to the German version of L4D 2, but I guess it's nice for Valve to be getting some more publicity; as the German censorship doesn't seem to be news any more.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Cogs and rubber ducks?!! lol, that sounds awesome!! Where can I get the German edition? (In Germany?)
      • by daid303 (843777)

        In most games the "german" mode gets triggered by putting the game in german language. Many games have this, and usually just just green blood instead of red. This was already the case in Doom (1&2)

        I don't know what TF2 uses as trigger, could also be language/location settings of your computer.

        • by Barny (103770)

          Most steam games trigger by where the purchaser lives.

          So the result is I will get a friend from the USA to buy the game and "gift" it via steam to me :)

          • by Jared555 (874152)

            I wouldn't count on that working. Fairly decent chance of it just going by the owner/receiver of the game, not the purchaser.

            • by Barny (103770)

              Its how I have gotten banned games into Aus in the past, it goes off the purchasers location.

  • by lanner (107308)

    This summary reads like an advertisement! I can't wait to play! =)

    Unless of course I was in Australia... then it would suck, I guess.

  • FYI: Left4Dead US Retail Box on Amazon.com [amazon.com]

    Sincerely,

    A gamer against censorship.
    • by Nathrael (1251426)
      Too bad that importing uncut games is illegal.
      • True, but at least Valve get the money for the fully licensed product as opposed to just downloading a .torrent for the executables ripped from the very same version.

        It's about making a point to the censors, not to the distributor.
  • by headkase (533448)
    Australia: Where you as an adult are not competent enough to make your own decisions! We'll keep it down to a kids level because we don't want you to enjoy gratuitous entertainment. Now, turn on the boob tube and watch a Jason movie...
    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      WTF is a Jason movie?

      • Friday the 13th part n - you know, chainsaw-and-hockey-mask-and-beating-one-camper-to-death-with-the-corpse-of-another-camper movies.

        If you want a real WTF, see the last in the series - Jason X. Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder and David Cronenberg do battle with Jason...in space...in the 25th century.
  • by TomRK1089 (1270906) on Friday October 09, 2009 @08:43AM (#29690929)
    Your mom is a classy lady! [penny-arcade.com] Or at least that's what this decision reminds me of.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone remember the built-in blood mode for Serious Sam? Red Blood, Green Blood or Hippy (They bleed flowers, lol)

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Spewed milk. Onto my desk. At work.

      (Seriously: I was eating chili so I had milk to kill the burn)

  • a country founded by nothing but criminals has evolved into a dictatorship run by nothing but saints.

    im sorry to say, but censorship of this magnitude will greatly endanger australian citizens in the event of a zombie apocalypse. How will they know whether a baseball bat or a shotgun is the appropriate weapon? where do they place their shot groups? without detail in the game and critical points like splatter and decapitation, players will be poorly versed and risk overkill or worse, underkill of a zomb
    • by ubercam (1025540)

      I know your post was tongue in cheek, but it's not like they took a real bunch of zombies, put them in a laboratory setting and shot at them or hit them with bats to find out the most effective ways to kill them. Lobbing off the head might not actually kill a real zombie. Does it need a brain? Does its heart beat? Does it matter if it loses blood? No one knows because there's no such thing as a zombie.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      without detail in the game and critical points like splatter and decapitation, players will be poorly versed and risk overkill or worse, underkill of a zombie.

      That's why you follow Rule #2, Double Tap.

  • Various people on the previous article on this topic claimed that video games are simply not allowed to be classified as 18+, thus tying the classification board's hands on this one. Is this true? If so it's not so much censorship and more an obvious example of their rules needing sorting out - L4D was classified for 18 years or over here in the UK and L4D2 is substantially more violent, so it'd look pretty to me if the Australians shoehorned L4D2 into the 15+ category just because it's all they had handy

  • A zombie game without gore is like a nude chick without tits. What's the point? What if we *try* putting the parenthood responsibility to the parents instead, and let all the others get what they want?

  • I read TFS, and I see:

    game ... contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment.

    Am I the only one thinking, "Yeah baby! This one will be #1 on my games to buy list for this year" now?

    • game ... contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment.

      Am I the only one thinking, "Yeah baby! This one will be #1 on my games to buy list for this year" now?

      I saw "no longer contains... piles of dead bodies lying about the environment," and thought, "Third shot: disintegrates."

  • "Left 4 Dead 2" .. I have a feeling some of those numerals are meant to represent words but not sure which ones, there seem to be a number of possibilities.. someone explain please

  • I know nothing about this case, but this rating system sounds like a most egregious kind of censorship. Maybe people would notice it more if governments required this sort of review for books: "Sorry, Mr. King, you'll have to excise the following pages or else you won't be allowed to sell your book in Australia." Voluntary industry system: fine. Boycott by leading stores: fine. Government control: Taliban wannabe.

    Are the US (Patriot Act), the UK (cameras everywhere), and Australia (obvious) in some sor

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