Sega has won its appeal of the Australian Classification Board's decision to ban Aliens vs. Predator, meaning the game will be released in the country with an MA15+ rating.
Australia's Classification Board put the kibosh on the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator in early December, citing the game's depiction of "explicit decapitation and dismemberment, as well as locational damage such as stabbing through the chest, throat, mouth or eyes." The Predator's eye-stabbin', skull-yankin', spine-rippin' action in particular didn't go over real big with the gang on the Board.
Sega, naturally, announced that it would go through the motions of an appeal, presumably at least in part because Rebellion, the studio behind the game, made it very clear that it had no intention of censoring the game to get it onto Australian shelves. To most observers (or at least to me) the appeal was nothing more than an obligatory waste of time and paper that would go absolutely nowhere, much like the failed appeal of the Left 4 Dead 2 ban.
It's a good thing that Sega doesn't have pessimists like me at the wheel, though, because in utter defiance of my prediction, the Classification Review Board has overturned the decision and given Sega the green light to sell Aliens vs. Predator, uncut, with an MA15+ rating. "It is with great pleasure that we announce the success of our appeal," Sega Australia General Manager Darren Macbeth said in a statement to Kotaku. "We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever."
"This is a big win for Australian gamers," he continued. "We applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians."
Why the Review Board saw fit to reverse the original decision is unclear, but based on precedents set by previous Classification Board actions I'm going to say that it was probably just for the sheer hell of it. Randomness seems to figure prominently throughout the entire process and unless someone can tell me how Left 4 Dead 2 is fundamentally more violent and potentially damaging to teenage minds than Aliens vs. Predator, it makes as much sense as any other explanation.
But as Macbeth said, it's a win for Australian gamers regardless of the reason. Having seen the censored version of Left 4 Dead 2 in action, I think I'd rather do without entirely than have to deal with yet another bastardized mess of a game. Fortunately for those who actually have to make those decisions, it won't be an issue this time around. Aliens vs. Predator is set for worldwide release - including Australia! - in February 2010 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.