Saints Row IV Will Release in Australia, Sort Of
By Zack Wheat on August 5th, 2013 (6 comments)
Australia is known for many things: a beautiful opera house, the most terrifying and deadly creatures known to man, and a ratings classification board which is known for being strict about the video games cleared for sale within the country. Saints Row IV, soon to be released around the world, is one of the games which has fallen on hard times thanks to the ratings process.
The Saints Row series has been known for its lowbrow humor and frank depictions of comedy pushed beyond the limits of widespread politeness, but its first three installments were not stonewalled from release like the fourth installment was. A few weeks ago, the Australian rating board slapped a ban on Saints Row IV thanks to "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context" and "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards". The former is a little open to interpretation as far as this series is concerned: "sexual violence" brings up fears of the presence of a violent rape, but as the Saints Row franchise isn't quite dark enough to head for such territory, this could easily have referred to the series' penchant for usable dildo bats. The latter, regarding illicit substances used for player gain, has appeared in video games since the slo-mo drug pickups in Grand Theft Auto III.
As is often the case with Saints Row, the truth was more ridiculous than expected. The former incident referred to a weapon referred to as the "Rectifier," which will be available as DLC and allow the player to... utilize alien anal probes. No, seriously.
The latter refers to a twenty-minute long side mission in which the recurring character Shaundi takes alien narcotics to gain superpowers, which sounds about consistent with the game's train of logic. The side mission is, obviously, inconsequential to the game's plot and serves as a minor amount of gameplay within the whole.
In response, the game's developers pulled the narcotics-based side mission, resulting in permission to release in Australia from the board with a MA15+ rating. The Rectifier will remain as additional DLC. There is one major caveat, however: due to differences in content, the Australian version of Saints Row IV will be incompatible for co-op play with any non-Australian copies of the game.
In the end, so long as Australian gamers are able to get their hands on the game at all, this is some kind of victory. It is a testament, however, to a system that currently appears to be needlessly restrictive and out of touch with the current state of video games. No, not all games will allow the player to fire off anal probes, but the fact that satire on this scale is worth a ban speaks to a culturally blind group put in charge of judging culture.
It is an interesting footnote that while Grand Theft Auto V recently passed through the Australian ratings board without incident, it received an R18+ rating. This rating is stricter than the MA15+ which Saints Row IV has received.
Saints Row IV will be released in North America on August 20th and Europe on August 23rd. It will be available for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
Zack Wheat is a Staff Writer at 4Player who fights the urge every day to make sweeping statements about video games using as many words as possible. He has an unbridled love for anything Metal Gear or Ace Attorney, a fondness for JRPGs, and an embarrassing affection for J-pop. Follow him on Twitter, because he loves you.
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