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"Nude" scene forces Microsoft to delay Halo 2

Microsoft on Friday revealed that it has delayed release of Halo 2 for Vista in the U.S. due to the appearance of partial nudity in some of the game's content. Just two days back, the software giant had reported that the highly anticipated title, Halo 2 for Windows Vista would be delayed until May 31st, the second delay for the title in only one month.

Microsoft initially was silent about the reasons behind the second delay, but a Microsoft spokesperson yesterday revealed that brief glimpse of partial nudity is the reason behind this latest delay, as the company scatters to make sure that the correct ESRB label is affixed to the game.

Redmond giant has already released an optional patch to remove the problematic content. Originally scheduled to release on Tuesday, May 22, the eagerly awaited Halo 2 for Windows Vista has been delayed to the 31st so retailers can slap stickers on already-in-hand copies.

"It has come to our attention that an unfortunate, obscure content error which includes partial nudity was included in our initial production of “Halo 2” for Windows Vista," Microsoft told Next-Gen.biz. “As such, we have updated the initial game packaging at retailers with a label, so customers are aware before purchasing the game. Additionally, we’ve developed an online update which can be downloaded from www.halo2.com to remove the content.”

“At Microsoft we take the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) guidelines very seriously and hold ourselves to high standards, with our customers always in mind."

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) also issued a statement, saying Microsoft has notified ESRB about pertinent content found in a map editor tool that is being bundled with the game.

The content in question displays a picture of a game character showing his bare backside to the user when a particular error occurs, and thus warrants a 'Partial Nudity' content descriptor in order to alert consumers to its presence in the product, ESRB said.

The nudity in Halo 2, which is likely to be inaccessible to the vast majority of users, was reported to the ESRB just after the M (Mature 17+) rating assignment was issued for the Vista version, and just prior to the shipment of the game to retail.

Microsoft then urged the board to issue stickers with correct ESRB rating information to the packaging of virtually all copies that will ship to retail in the U.S. and Canada.

"ESRB's job is to ensure that games are appropriately labeled, and that is precisely what we did in this case. We greatly appreciate Microsoft's cooperation in this matter."

Halo 2, the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, brings Master Chief to Windows Vista and is the first title to incorporate the new Games for Windows—LIVE service. It allows Windows Vista gamers to play the critically acclaimed Halo phenomenon against others for the first time. Gamers will be able to challenge each other in PC-to-PC multiplayer matches and score achievements for the first time in the “Halo” franchise, as well as communicate via voice or text with other Games for Windows — LIVE or Xbox LIVE members.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista, which is a first person action shooter that takes place in the same science fiction universe as Halo, will be playable with mouse and keyboard or the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows.

The visually enhanced classic includes an all-new Map Editor, which will allow for new content and greater game customization. The game also features an expanded range of vehicles as well as other gameplay changes to its predecessor.

In addition, Halo 2 for Windows Vista will feature more than fourteen human and alien weapons with players allowed to carry two weapons at a time, each weapon having advantages and disadvantages in different combat situations.