Kratos may have slaughtered assorted gods and demigods from Greek mythology without a scratch, but he may have met his match: Australia’s notoriously strict OFLC ratings board.
Sony’s bestselling God of War games have been over-the-top indulgences in the two things hated most by censors: sex and violence. More the latter than the former, anyway; though there were sex-based minigames and bared breasts aplenty, the sex paled in comparison to gleefully tearing the wings off a Harpy and disembowling a Minotaur before ramming a spike through the mouth of a Hydra.
With the upcoming God of War III, Kratos’ roaring rampage of revenge aims to continue that over-the-top gore, now in glorious high-definition. While that’s as much of a selling point as anything else, Art director Sean Cunningham confessed to Screen Play that the team harbored worries that the game might be pushing the boundaries of Australia’s MA15+ rating.
‘There is (concern),’ says Sean. ‘We try to push the boundaries a little bit. (But) we’ve had meetings and discussions and internally we all have a good gauge on what’s ‘too far’.’
Even so, what Sony feels is “too far” and what Australia’s OFLC feels is “too far” may be entirely separate things – and if the ratings board refuses to classify the game as MA15+, Sony will either have to trim down the very blood and gore (and sex) that is the selling point for many gamers – or risk the game being effectively banned entirely.
On the bright side, GoW3 should be within the limits of everywhere that isn’t Australia, says Cunningham – even if it means the developers weren’t able to do everything they wanted: “You throw something past [the ESRB] and they might say ‘Absolutely not! You could not do that!’ and we’re all like: ‘Aww, c’mon, that was a great idea!’ There have been a couple of those…”