The British Board of Film Classification should need no introduction to British gamers, after making headline news over its banning of Rockstar's Manhunt 2, and the ensuing court case that Rockstar eventually won.
This was shortly followed by Dr Tanya Byron's government-commissioned Byron Report, which examined the effects of games and the Internet on children in Britain. The report called for a high-profile campaign to educate parents on video game age ratings and consoles' parental controls.
After granting Grand Theft Auto IV an 18 rating without incident, and, more importantly, without cuts, the BBFC yesterday classified Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PlayStation 3 and posted the result on its Web site.
Snake's final mission passed the board without any cuts and will be rated 15 due to "strong violence." In addition to the classification, the BBFC also inadvertently released some minor plot details due to what BBFC spokesperson Sue Clark said was a "computer glitch."
Clark told GameSpot that because the full decisions often contain minor plot spoilers, the "Extended Classification Information" shouldn't appear more than 10 days before the release of a game. According to the BBFC, a "computer glitch" resulted in the ECI for Metal Gear Solid 4 going up too early, and it was subsequently taken down and will be reposted closer to the game's UK release on June 12. Clark also pointed out that the ECI is primarily intended for parents, so that they can see what is in a game that they are considering to purchase for their children.
After the connection issues and postponement of the PlayStation Network Metal Gear Online beta, fans of the series will be relieved to know that Metal Gear Solid 4 has passed the final classification hurdle.
Meanwhile, the BBFC has also rated an unannounced THQ game, Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise. The game has been given a U for Universal rating. Rare confirmed that it was working on a Viva Pinata DS game last July, but has been quiet on the Pinata front since then.