Saints Row 4 was refused classification in Australia by the country's Classification Board because it featured a weapon called an "Alien Anal Probe" and an alien narcotic that gives players super powers when smoked, according to the Board's Decision Report obtained by Polygon.
Last night, the Australian Classification Board announced that it denied Saints Row 4 classification under the "Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games," saying that the title "includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context" and features use of "illicit or proscribed drug use" as incentives in the game, which is prohibited by the board's guidelines.
The "Alien Anal Probe" weapon, according to the report, can be "shoved into enemy's backsides," as well as in-game civilians. The Board decided that Saints Row 4 should be refused classification based on the weapon's design to be used to penetrate the anus of in-game enemies and civilians, which "constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justify by context."
When using this weapon the play approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim's legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim's anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim's anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.
Another contributing factor to the game's ban is the use of an alien narcotic. Not only does the board decry that the use of in-game drugs provide the player with incentives, "quantifiable" benefits and rewards but, according to the report, there is insufficient differentiation between real world drugs, such as cocaine and heroine, and the alien narcotic, which is obtained through a street dealer and smoked through a pipe.
The game contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as "alien narcotics." Smoking alien narcotics equips the player with superpowers which increase their in-game abilities allowing them to progress through the mission more easily...
After killing this dealer the player is again depicted smoking from a small glass pipe. Within moments the player begins to feel the effects of the drug, commenting "(my) powers feel limitless", "(I) feel like every muscle inside me is going to burst" and "holy crap we have superpowers". The player then embarks on a mission to locate and kill an enemy character and is depicted using superpowers which include increased speed and jumping abilities.
Saints Row 4 is the first video game in Australia to be refused classification since the country introduced an R18+ classification for video games earlier this year. Under Australia's current classification system, games sold at retail need to be classified by the Australian Classification Board. The country's Federal Parliament only passed legislation to create an R18+ category for video game classification in last February and the new classification system, which included the R18+ rating, came into effect Jan 1, 2013.
A Deep Silver spokesperson told Polygon last night that Saints Row 4 developer Volition is amending the video game so it can be resubmitted for classification and ultimately see a release in the country.
"Volition, the developer, reworking some of the code to create a version of the game for this territory by removing the content which could cause offence without reducing the outlandish gameplay that Saints Row fans know and love," the representative said.
Saints Row 4 is slated for release on Aug. 20 in North America for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. The open-world game made it onto Polygon's Editor's Choice selections for E3 2013, alongside Titanfall, Infamous: Second Son and Dark Souls 2. The Classification Board's decision report for Saints Row 4 can be viewed in full via the link.
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