Soldier of Fortune: Payback has been banned in Australia as a result of its intense and graphic violence.

Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification refused to issue a classification for the game, meaning retailers in that country cannot legally sell it. The decision was reached due to the game’s “high impact violence,” according to an OFLC spokeswoman. “(The decision was based on) the different ways a player could main and injure (other characters),” she told the Herald Sun website. “The violence seems to exceed the MA classification.”

The Classification Board said, “The limbs may be shot off, resulting in large amounts of blood spray and the depiction of torn flesh and protruding bone from the dismembered limb,” describing what sounds like a really cool game. Activision promotional material for the game included a description of the damage system as “shocking even to experienced FPS players.”

Unlike most countries, Australia does not have a rating that corresponds to the ESRB’s M (Mature) or PEGI’s 18+. The highest classification currently available in Australia is MA15+, which has led to numerous recent titles including 50 Cent: Bulletproof, The Punisher and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude being unavailable for sale. The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia is currently campaigning for the introduction of an R18+ classification in order to make these games available to adults via local retail channels.

Soldier of Fortune: Payback is being developed for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and is currently slated for release in early 2008.

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