The Australia ratings board has finally approved a now censored version of Saints Row IV so the game can be sold in the country. Get this, it was rated a mere MA15+, not even the newly created and apparently meaningless R18+ category. What was removed? It's got to be a serious feature right? Or maybe a sequence so extreme it gives people seizures? Nope, a 20 minute sequence where Shaundi takes "alien narcotics" to acquire "superpowers." Seriously, Australia?
Unfortunately the law of the land in Australia is that any drug use by the player in-game that can be construed as "rewarding" results in instant rating refusal. It doesn't matter if it's cocaine or a fantastical "alien narcotic," it doesn't matter if it makes the player smile and take a nap for 30 minutes or "gain superpowers," it doesn't matter if it's in a game about documenting the drug use of an addict or a dystopian sci-fi future that's actually an AI program running in the player's brain and there are weapons like a dubstep fun and an alien probe gun. Banned.
Which is exactly what was wrong about Saints Row IV. In order to get an MA15+ rating, all Volition had to do is remove a 20 minute loyalty missions featuring Shaundi that includes the use of alien narcotics in order to obtain superpowers. It's no longer in the game. Here's what Deep Silver/Volition say about that:
"The removal of this mission has no negative impact on the story or the superpowers and will not detract from the enjoyment players will get from their Saints Row IV experience. The rectifier weapon will be available as part of a DLC package as originally intended. Deep Silver stands by this decision and thanks the Australian Classification Board for their assistance with this matter."
In the world of good PR, you don't bite the dog that feeds you. If they can't say it, I will. Australian Ratings Board, your decision to censor Saints Row IV is an embarrassment. The decision to censor what amounts to content seen every day in movies and television is ridiculous, and ultimately trivial. I hope on day one of release Deep Silver releases a mod that adds the level back in, just to show what an embarrassment this whole process has been.
Saints Row IV will be released on August 20 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. You should, I dunno, maybe check it out. You too, Australia.