The fatalities and a lack of an 18+ rating did it in
After a close shave for Duke Nukem and Bulletstorm, the infamously prudes of the world, brandishing banhammers at the slightest act of in-game violence, are back - this time banning the ever paranoid media's favourite whipping boy Mortal Kombat. The upcoming version of the game has been banned for it fatalities, which was also the same bone of contention when it released almost a decade back in 1993.
Australian videogame classification board doesn't have a rating beyond MA15+, so gamers there get a raw deal with heavily censored, read boring, versions of games. That is, provided publishers bother to ship their games down under at all. Quite expectedly, the Australian Classifications Board is convinced that Mortal Kombat's graphic fatalities fall beyond the threshold of country's highest video game ratings category. That means the game is banned from sale within Australia.
The classification isn't out to the public yet, but Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Australia has preemptively issued the following statement to GamePron:
"We are extremely disappointed that Mortal Kombat, one of the world's oldest and most successful video games franchises, will not be available to mature Australian gamers. WBIE would not market mature content where it is not appropriate for the audience. We understand that not all content is for every audience, but there is an audience for mature gaming content and it would make more sense to have the R18+ classification in Australia."
The nation's attorney-general's have been debating the introduction of an R18+ ratings category, as the industry clamours for a re-haul of Australia's archaic and irrational ratings standards. The general consensus in the industry is to bring Australia's ratings on par with the international standard.
The ruling for the ban names the brutal fatalities for the step. It even goes on to detail some of the fatalities, something that the developers had managed to maintain a secret. Till now, that is. That's pretty much like rubbing salt into the wounds. Here are some excerpts from the ruling, along with the fatality spoilers for your reading pleasure:
"The game contains violence that exceeds strong in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play. The Board notes that fatalities cannot be performed in Story mode and are unlikely to be performed frequently during gameplay; however, it is also noted that there are more than 60 fatalities available and they are an important component of the game."
" [the fatalities] contain explicit depictions of dismemberment, decapitation, disembowelment and other brutal forms of slaughter. Despite the exaggerated conceptual nature of the fatalities and their context within a fighting game set in a fantasy realm, impact is heightened by the use of graphics which are realistically rendered and very detailed."
Kung Lao throws his metal hat into the ground and it spins like a buzz saw. He grabs his prone opponent by the ankles and drags their body through the saw, explicitly slicing them vertically in half. Copious bloodspray is noted. Kung Lao then holds up both halves of the corpse as blood pours out.
Quan Chi explicitly rips his opponent's leg off, accompanied by copious bloodspray. As they lie on the groins, he explicitly beats them with the severed leg for a prolonged period of time.
Baraka explicitly lodges a blade (attached to his wrist) in an opponent's stomach and hoists them above his head. He spins them round and explicitly decapitates and dismembers them, accompanied by copious bloodspray.