Giant Bomb News

43 Comments

ESRB Makes Games Sound Awesome

New rating summaries help parents keep messed-up games away from kids, help me find messed-up games to play.

The ESRB has unveiled the latest update to its ratings offering in an effort to keep consumers informed about the games they play. It seems like a great addition that, when used alongside the actual ratings and existing descriptors, could be much more useful to concerned parents. And hey, some of the politicians, like Hillary Clinton and Joe "Night Trap" Lieberman have come out in support of the change.

But it also serves a purpose for people like me, the game loving man-child who still giggles when people talk about poop and butts! Now I can search their database for the most awesome sounding games and ensure that I see the weirdest, most extreme games in the world!

Also, it seems like this will totally replace our entire reviews process. Seriously, when you see these paragraphs full of the "worst" things in games, why would you need to read anything else? OK, fine, in addition to their summary, I'll post my take on the game based on how the summary makes it sound.

Rating summary: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 2 is a 'point-and-click' adventure game based on characters from the online comic Penny Arcade. Players battle enemies using a role-playing game style combat system, taking turns using fists and weapons to harm various robots and humans. Several cutscenes depict 'cartoony,' over-the-top instances of violence, including heads being blown off, characters sliced up by lasers, splattering blood and flying body parts. Humor is often based on bodily functions and 'by-products' (e.g., syringe injections full of urine) and sometimes sexuality (e.g., robots humping legs, testicles and taxidermy). The game also contains frequent use of strong profanity (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t").
My take: OK, you had me at "syringe injections full of urine," but the concept of a robot humping a set of testicles? They call that going the extra mile. Five stars.

Rating summary: Call of Duty: World at War is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of Allied soldiers in both the European and Pacific Fronts during World War II. Combat can be intense with extensive use of camera effects (e.g., slow-motion, blurring, and screen shakes) and realistic sound effects to highlight the tense and frenetic nature of each battle. Fighting is fast-paced with players using a large array of military weapons (guns, grenades, and flamethrowers). Collateral damage includes sprays of red blood when enemies are shot; maimed appendages from explosions; and flailing and screaming when enemies are set on fire. Cutscenes and historical footage can contain graphic depictions of prisoner/POW executions. Strong profanity can be heard during gameplay (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t").
My take: Maybe this one is a bit unfair since I've already played the game, but "flailing and screaming when enemies are set on fire" sounds pretty good. Sadly, that part doesn't look so hot in the actual game. Also note that just like my review of the game, it doesn't talk about the Nazi Zombie mode you can unlock. I smell conspiracy! Four stars.

Rating summary: Fallout 3 is a action role-playing game set in the barren wasteland of a post-apocalyptic society. Players assume the role of a resident of an underground complex who emerges from a vault to explore a wastleland universe through a series of quests/missions. Mission objectives sometimes involve exploring various caves, sewers, and subway tunnels, while other quests involve combat with human and mutant survivors. Fighting can be frenetic and intense, highlighted by various camera effects (e.g., slow motion, blurring, screen shakes) and depictions of realistic dismemberment with trails of red blood. In one scene, players enter a black-and-white virtual reality simulation in which they use a kitchen knife to kill household members and pets. Characters are sometimes seen consuming fictional drugs (e.g., "Buffout," "Jet," and "Mentats"), while the player can also use – with no visual depiction of consuming/administering – a narcotic called "psycho," which with repeated uses leads to addiction. A screen-blurring effect indicates the state of characters' intoxication and the need to use the narcotic to fend off various side effects. Several of the characters are prostitutes and the details of their sexual activities are mildly insinuated (e.g., "You got the cash I got the time…I take care of men around here."). Strong profanity can also be heard throughout the game (e.g., "f*ck," "a*shole," and "sh*t").
My take: They make the entire game sound like it's about drugs and hookers. Normally that'd be pretty exciting, but post-apocalyptic drugs actually sound really boring. Three stars.

Rating summary: Lips is a karaoke music game in which players sing along with music videos of various styles and genres. Players score points by matching the pitch and duration of notes displayed on the screen. Music videos often depict provocatively dressed women in suggestive dance routines or poses (e.g., women in bikinis crawling on the beach, short shorts with rear close-ups, metallic body paint, and frequent depictions of cleavage). Some song lyrics contain mild language (e.g., "God damn" and "whore") as well as frequent sexual references (e.g., "A chick walks by ya wish ya could sex her"). A custom video depicts an animated battle between two armies of sword-wielding robots. In another music video, a young woman in a school uniform smokes a cigarette in the foreground.
My take: You heard it here first, Young MC's "Bust A Move" is bad for kids. Wait... short shorts with rear close-ups? Five stars!

Rating summary: Little Big Planet is an action adventure game set in a whimsical land filled with puppets and platforming puzzles. Players can create, customize, and guide their character through levels of platforms, enemies and hazards. Hazards include bombs, spiked vehicles, stampeding bulls, and even giant shoes. One ancillary character makes belching noises while talking to the player's character.
My take: Boooooooorrrrrrinnnnnnng! Obviously this is one that gets by with the "Game Experience May Change During Online Play" notice. Two stars, but only because it has bombs and belching.

Head over to esrb.org to join in the fun, but be patient, it looks like their server is having trouble keeping up this morning.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
43 Comments
Posted by Jeff
The ESRB has unveiled the latest update to its ratings offering in an effort to keep consumers informed about the games they play. It seems like a great addition that, when used alongside the actual ratings and existing descriptors, could be much more useful to concerned parents. And hey, some of the politicians, like Hillary Clinton and Joe "Night Trap" Lieberman have come out in support of the change.

But it also serves a purpose for people like me, the game loving man-child who still giggles when people talk about poop and butts! Now I can search their database for the most awesome sounding games and ensure that I see the weirdest, most extreme games in the world!

Also, it seems like this will totally replace our entire reviews process. Seriously, when you see these paragraphs full of the "worst" things in games, why would you need to read anything else? OK, fine, in addition to their summary, I'll post my take on the game based on how the summary makes it sound.

Rating summary: Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 2 is a 'point-and-click' adventure game based on characters from the online comic Penny Arcade. Players battle enemies using a role-playing game style combat system, taking turns using fists and weapons to harm various robots and humans. Several cutscenes depict 'cartoony,' over-the-top instances of violence, including heads being blown off, characters sliced up by lasers, splattering blood and flying body parts. Humor is often based on bodily functions and 'by-products' (e.g., syringe injections full of urine) and sometimes sexuality (e.g., robots humping legs, testicles and taxidermy). The game also contains frequent use of strong profanity (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t").
My take: OK, you had me at "syringe injections full of urine," but the concept of a robot humping a set of testicles? They call that going the extra mile. Five stars.

Rating summary: Call of Duty: World at War is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of Allied soldiers in both the European and Pacific Fronts during World War II. Combat can be intense with extensive use of camera effects (e.g., slow-motion, blurring, and screen shakes) and realistic sound effects to highlight the tense and frenetic nature of each battle. Fighting is fast-paced with players using a large array of military weapons (guns, grenades, and flamethrowers). Collateral damage includes sprays of red blood when enemies are shot; maimed appendages from explosions; and flailing and screaming when enemies are set on fire. Cutscenes and historical footage can contain graphic depictions of prisoner/POW executions. Strong profanity can be heard during gameplay (e.g., "f*ck" and "sh*t").
My take: Maybe this one is a bit unfair since I've already played the game, but "flailing and screaming when enemies are set on fire" sounds pretty good. Sadly, that part doesn't look so hot in the actual game. Also note that just like my review of the game, it doesn't talk about the Nazi Zombie mode you can unlock. I smell conspiracy! Four stars.

Rating summary: Fallout 3 is a action role-playing game set in the barren wasteland of a post-apocalyptic society. Players assume the role of a resident of an underground complex who emerges from a vault to explore a wastleland universe through a series of quests/missions. Mission objectives sometimes involve exploring various caves, sewers, and subway tunnels, while other quests involve combat with human and mutant survivors. Fighting can be frenetic and intense, highlighted by various camera effects (e.g., slow motion, blurring, screen shakes) and depictions of realistic dismemberment with trails of red blood. In one scene, players enter a black-and-white virtual reality simulation in which they use a kitchen knife to kill household members and pets. Characters are sometimes seen consuming fictional drugs (e.g., "Buffout," "Jet," and "Mentats"), while the player can also use – with no visual depiction of consuming/administering – a narcotic called "psycho," which with repeated uses leads to addiction. A screen-blurring effect indicates the state of characters' intoxication and the need to use the narcotic to fend off various side effects. Several of the characters are prostitutes and the details of their sexual activities are mildly insinuated (e.g., "You got the cash I got the time…I take care of men around here."). Strong profanity can also be heard throughout the game (e.g., "f*ck," "a*shole," and "sh*t").
My take: They make the entire game sound like it's about drugs and hookers. Normally that'd be pretty exciting, but post-apocalyptic drugs actually sound really boring. Three stars.

Rating summary: Lips is a karaoke music game in which players sing along with music videos of various styles and genres. Players score points by matching the pitch and duration of notes displayed on the screen. Music videos often depict provocatively dressed women in suggestive dance routines or poses (e.g., women in bikinis crawling on the beach, short shorts with rear close-ups, metallic body paint, and frequent depictions of cleavage). Some song lyrics contain mild language (e.g., "God damn" and "whore") as well as frequent sexual references (e.g., "A chick walks by ya wish ya could sex her"). A custom video depicts an animated battle between two armies of sword-wielding robots. In another music video, a young woman in a school uniform smokes a cigarette in the foreground.
My take: You heard it here first, Young MC's "Bust A Move" is bad for kids. Wait... short shorts with rear close-ups? Five stars!

Rating summary: Little Big Planet is an action adventure game set in a whimsical land filled with puppets and platforming puzzles. Players can create, customize, and guide their character through levels of platforms, enemies and hazards. Hazards include bombs, spiked vehicles, stampeding bulls, and even giant shoes. One ancillary character makes belching noises while talking to the player's character.
My take: Boooooooorrrrrrinnnnnnng! Obviously this is one that gets by with the "Game Experience May Change During Online Play" notice. Two stars, but only because it has bombs and belching.

Head over to esrb.org to join in the fun, but be patient, it looks like their server is having trouble keeping up this morning.
Staff
Edited by Death_Burnout

Funny!

Yet somewhat annoying.

Edited by John

Holy Sh*it! This is awesome.

Posted by Kraznor

Wow, so they now have to write a summary paragraph for every game? Will this eventually be featured on the box at some point?

Posted by HatKing

I love how they sound like just some guy talking about the game.  I half expect them to say "oh yeah and there is this gun in the game...it has a saw on it...if you press 'b' you can cut dudes up".

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I wonder if you could make a game that wouldn't give them anything to write about.

"contains intensive, possibly exhausting spelling drills which will have your child chanting the ABC song in his or her sleep"

Posted by DrRandle

Awesome post Jeff. In all seriousness, though, I think this is a great step for the ESRB. I'm all for them helping to keep the nasty games out of the hands of kids. Unless, of course, the parents are fully informed and allow them to play said games.

Posted by LordAndrew

I love the way the censor "shit" and "fuck". Obviously they don't want parents knowing what kind of language is in those games.

Posted by Vinchenzo

"In another music video, a young woman in a school uniform smokes a cigarette in the foreground."

Man, the ESRB sure is observant.

Posted by LordAndrew
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a fighting game in which players engage in one-on-one contests of strength using popular heroes and villains from DC Comics and characters from the Mortal Kombat fighting games. Players kick, punch and block their way to victory, which is achieved when the opponent's life meter is depleted. Players can perform a variety of combos and special moves, some of which result in brief splashes of red blood. After an opponent is beaten twice, players can perform one of several finishing moves called 'fatalities' and 'brutalities.' Fatalities depict a variety of dramatic finishing moves including gunshots, stabbings and neck snaps. Female characters are depicted in revealing clothing with exaggerated breast proportions and movement.
Gunshots? Stabbings? Neck snaps? Revealing clothing and exaggerated breast proportions?
This is the greatest game ever made!
Posted by LordAndrew

Wait. A young woman in a school uniform smokes a cigarette? Five stars!

Edited by TooWalrus

I was hoping they were just going to change the " T " rating into like a 16+ rating. That way, we'd be able to see the Joker shoot dudes in the head in the new Mortal Kombat...
f*ck, a*shole, and sh*t!

Posted by RHCPfan24

Looks great.  About time the ESRB went the extra step in its rating and stopped whining.  I love when Jeff noted the absence of the Nazi Zombies in both the ESRB blurb and his review.  Glad you noticed Jeff!

Posted by albedos_shadow

I can see this easily being misused by anti-game crusaders. "Fallout 3 involves nothing but hookers and drugs! Even the ESRB says so!"

Posted by MackGyver

Oh wow, one more thing to laugh about. I guess this does give more information for the concerned parent. Let's keep in mind that these summaries can also be biased, Meaning people who write these things might focus more on the violence, foul language, and nudity than other things that are in a game. Just like the comment for Fallout 3. Jeff rightfully said that it sounds as if the game is all about hookers and drugs. Expect to see more of that in other games and be mad about it!

Posted by Hamst3r

sexuality (e.g., robots humping legs, testicles and taxidermy)

So taxidermy goes under sexuality.  Good to know.

Posted by DJDarkViper

gotta admit these are hilarious.

at the same time though, parents could be getting the totally wrong idea about the game entirely.

id appreciate if the ESRB would just grow the hell up and let Devs do what they do. The tight restrictions on what constitutes an AO over an M is still incredibly blurry. Manhunt 2 got censored, but Fallout 3 is MUCH more violent and not? :p

Posted by ZmillA

dude put a spoiler warning for the fallout 3 one, that mission would be way cooler if I didnt already know about it :(

Edited by Stevokenevo
albedos_shadow
I can see this easily being misused by anti-game crusaders. "Fallout 3 involves nothing but hookers and drugs! Even the ESRB says so!"

Or maybe everyone should note that the esrb were so carried away with drugs and hookers during the rating that that is all they noticed of the game!! 
Posted by Driadon

I find it funny that Fallout 3 is about hookers and drugs where as Fable 2 is about group sex and getting drunk. THERE'S HOOKERS IN THAT GAME TOO, YA KNOW!

Posted by Media_Master

Wow, so what? It seems like the only controversy these days are the ratings system...gets old talking constantly about how it should be changed.

Edited by yellownumber5

Publishers should totally put these on the back of game boxes.  The way they are now never really sells me on a game or really tell me what the game is about.  I'm a little worried that these are one sided about all the "bad" things of games.  I was going to say this is a win-win for parents and gamers, but I agree this gives more ammo for some to abuse the ESRB's system.

Posted by Hef

I really wanna see the one they make for GTA4.

Posted by Nick8708

The point of these is to not be a sales pitch, so they try to enumerate the potentitally offensive material with a brief mention of the rest of the gameplay and setting.  I think if they tried to make the good parts to a game sound like they balance out or exceed the bad ones parents might not be willing to trust them since it'd sound like a sales pitch.  "Sure you can rape and murder in the game, but you're doing it to raise money for orphans, and puppies, and orphaned puppies!"  They'd become a marketing department for the whole industry.  I imagine they'd want to keep it the publishers and developers responsibility to still sell the game to parents in the face of the "inappropriate" material being exposed.

Posted by JoeLoaded

Dammit, it gives away shit int he games (I havent' played fallout yet and I want to know what the fuck that kitchen scene is all about now)

But it is pretty funny when contextualized here.

Posted by AndrewB

If they're going to use these things, then they need to cut with the spoilers.

Posted by NinjaHunter

ONLY TWO STARS ON THE LITTLEBIGPLANET DESCRIPTION!!!111!!11
C'mon Jeff that deserves at least three stars. Change it or I'll boycott this site.......I swear I'll do it.....I"LL DO IT!!


No I won't.

Posted by Ministry4390
Hamst3r said:
"sexuality (e.g., robots humping legs, testicles and taxidermy)

So taxidermy goes under sexuality.  Good to know."


I think you're reading wrong. They meant robots humping legs, robots humping testicles and robots humping taxidermy.
Posted by Hamst3r
I think you're reading wrong. They meant robots humping legs, robots humping testicles and robots humping taxidermy.

Quit trying to ruin my fantasies!

*goes back in to his laboratory and the stench of dead hookers*
Posted by Kohe321

This is AWESOME!

Posted by punkxblaze

This changes everything!

Posted by JoelTGM

That's good stuff.  It's good for everyone. 

Posted by zoozilla

Wow, those are surprisingly entertaining.  And, for strict parents, extremely frightening and disgusting.

Interesting to see how this goes.

Posted by YoctoYotta

Thanks for the Fallout spoiler warning, dude. I thought we were friends.

Edited by dagas

I'm all for helping parents learn more about the games they buy for their children, but focusing only on the worst part and taking it out of context will make any game sound like a murder-simulator. If I were to use the same way to describe the human race every alien in the galaxy (i they exist) would be so scared of us they'd piss their pants. This is exactly the same kind of 'out of the context worst part of the game' highlights that made people think Mass Effect was about lesbian sex and violence.

Posted by Pierce

@ Hamst3r

Sexy taxidermy?  Sounds illogical...though intriguing...

Posted by cikame

They make penny arcade, a cartoony game that does have abit of violence, sound like a execution video game sex fest.
Weird.

Posted by ResonanceXu

LOL! this is brilliant hahaha... oh ESRB, when will you learn...!?

Posted by darkjester74

This blog post is rated E for Everyone

Posted by LordAndrew

Persona 4:

This is a role-playing game in which players control a high school student who enters a mystical 'TV World, ' saves lost souls who are trapped on the 'Midnight Channel,' and establishes bonds with town characters in order to develop 'Personas.' Personas, which are summoned through the use of tarot cards, are creatures that can perform special offensive and defensive moves to aid during battles against monsters. Combat is turn-based with numeric values and light effects indicating attack/damage inflicted. Pixilated blood spray is briefly depicted during battles, and colored bloodstains stain some walls and floors. Some female monsters (female Persona) are depicted with their breasts exposed, while other monsters have phallic-shaped heads and torsos. Other female Personas (e.g., "Succubus") have sexual characteristics that are described in text: "They visit sleeping men and have sexual intercourse with them." Story elements also make references to alcohol, including a long scene in which the main characters hang out in a club and play 'drinking games.' Although alcohol is never consumed, the characters display the telltale signs of intoxication: slurred speech, staggered walking, and red faces. Profanity (e.g., sh*t, a*shole) can be heard in the dialogue.
It's a good thing they mentioned the numeric values and light effects. I know a lot of people are offended by that kind of stuff but are okay with the occult and sexual references.

No mention of the implied sex in Social Links though. That's still in the game, right?
Posted by LordAndrew
Eternal Poison is a strategy role-playing game (RPG) in which players control a group of adventurers as they search for the eternal poison, an artifact that grants the owner their deepest wish. Players traverse through a gothic world battling creatures and demons ('maijin') in turn-based combat. Cinematic fight scenes display camera effects such as slow motion to highlight the intensity of action, while pixelated blood spray is emitted from monsters and demons when attacked. Several female characters wear revealing outfits that feature exposed cleavage and breast jiggle. Additionally, cutscenes include mildly suggestive dialogue (e.g., "I love how Vivian looks in her uniform! She can order me around anytime!") and expletives (e.g., "damn," "hell," and "bastard"). 'Red wine' and 'Plum wine' appear in the player's inventory and can be used as healing items.
I am now exponentially more excited about Eternal Poison.
Wii Music is a music and rhythm game that allows players to use the Wii-mote to simulate playing a variety of musical instruments (drums, trumpet, xylophone, guitar, etc.). Players can also conduct an orchestra or play musical mini-games that test their listening skills (e.g., sound-matching and key pitch exercises).
No mention of the sex minigames?
Posted by Absurd

That PennyArcade Summary made me laugh...

Posted by MetalGearSunny

LOL, look at the Rock Band 2 one.

" Rock Band 2 is a music and rhythm simulation game in which players can perform songs along with on-screen avatars. Some song lyrics contain mild language ("a*s" and "damn") as well as references to violence (e.g., "I'm gonna pull the trigger and blow them all away."). Some song lyrics also contain sexual innuendo (e.g., "she spent her twenties between the sheets") and references to drugs and alcohol (e.g., "…you think I get high" and "…I was drunk.") Players can customize various aspects of the avatars' appearances; the names and descriptions of some available outfits are  playfully suggestive. Other outfits reveal small amounts of cleavage and male buttocks."