Author Note: This will probably contain spoilers. Lots of spoilers. I will keep them to a minimum for the sake of the poor sod who checks this without playing the game in question, but I will be a mean spoilery-spoil-sport. You have been warned.
So I recently bought Obsidian’s “South Park: The Stick of Truth”, which has the new fancy R18+ label on it.
One sentence review: It’s good. Buy it.
For those not in the know, us Australians only got an “adult” rating for games recently because the powers that be in the Land Girt by Sea finally realized that adults who like adult things also like to waste time waggling a couple of sticks as much as your average foul-mouthed teenager who uses the word “fag” to excess.
The entire thing has seemed to be a waste of time though, considering games are still being refused classification. South Park was one of the many in the firing line, with Ubisoft completely censoring parts of the game with a picture of a crying koala and a brief description of what’s going on. It was kinda funny to start with, and annoying when the (hopefully) final koala shed its tears.
As much as it completely took me out of the game and got tiresome after a while, that’s not the part that bugs me. I can deal with censorship in games (we can’t think for ourselves here, remember?). What bugs me is that the censorship of the game is completely inconsistent. Not to mention it’s fucking South Park, where not only there has been very little uncharted territory in the realms of toilet humour, ranging from a talking turd to cannibalism to one of the main characters dying in various gruesome ways, but the series is freely available on DVD here.
Author Note #2: Here’s where the spoilers start. Last chance to turn back if you truly give a shit about your enjoyment of this game over a shitty opinion piece on a blog nobody reads.
What they did censor was several minigames featuring anal probing and giving a male character an abortion. “Fair enough”, I’m sure you’ll claim “That’s pretty fucked up.”
Sure, but what didn’t they censor? The protagonist’s players having sex (and later, having to dodge a giant pair of hairy testicles), zombie fetuses, and a myriad of other things which -if we’re going to have the Australian Government be all “think of the Children!” for us, the game probably could have done without.
Oh, and the abortion minigame? Appears later on in the game. But it’s perfectly okay because it’s a robot abortion, and thus, is totally suitable.
End Spoilers. No tears now, only rants.
Being the only game in recent memory that was modified enough to irritate me, it dredged up every single ham-fisted argument I’ve written over the years about Australian censorship and the then-lack of an R18+ rating for games here. It also dredged up all the memories of games, movies and books which somehow got passed unscathed. The constant, scantily-clad reminder being Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. Pretty much a bikini simulator with some rather crap minigames.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no prude, either. Short of gaming atrocities such as RapeLay, I think gaming is a mainstream enough medium to contain as many boobs, butts, blood-splatters, bullets and bodily harm as much as your average action movie. It’s no longer a “kids thing” or a “niche product” anymore. The beer-chugging dudebros who used to steal lunch money from my ilk are now gamers, too. I’ve seen worse depictions of sex and violence at the cinema. What on earth is the goddamn holdup?
It shouldn’t bother me so much, but fuck. I’m almost 30. I’m pretty sure that I can judge for myself whether a movie, game, piece of music, whatever, is appropriate enough for my age range. Moreover, the parents should be able to decide for those under the age of 18 whether a game is suitable or not (and/or just get carded and given the rundown on what apparent brain-warping atrocities Little Timmy is about to face). It makes me wonder what, exactly, is the point of the restricted rating at all if things aren’t exactly changing terribly much and the rating is really a catchall for anything that contains more blood than a Fifa installment.
Till next time.