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Take-Two, publisher of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto video game series, is courting controversy again with its latest game, Manhunt 2, earning a ban in Britain.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was taken off store shelves in the US in 2005 after a hidden sex scene was discovered. Manhunt 2 has fallen foul of the censors in the UK for its “unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone”.

Take-Two is also reported to be facing an “adults only” rating for the game from the Entertainment Software Rating Board in the US. This would mean most US retailers would refuse to sell it.

The ESRB said on Tuesday it had received a letter from a national coalition of teachers and child protection groups asking for the adults only rating to be imposed.

The British Board of Film Classification said Manhunter 2’s tone “constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism.”

The BBFC’s decision represents only the second ban on a video game in the UK.

Take-Two, which publishes the game under its Rockstar label, said it was disappointed by the BBFC’s decision but did not say whether it would appeal. “Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror.”

Manhunt 2 is due to be released in the US on the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable on July 10.

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