On June 12, 2008, Manhunt 2 was rejected in New Zealand due to the manner in which it depicts and deals with matters of sex, horror, cruelty and violence. It is illegal to import, sell, supply or possess this game in the country.
Manhunt 2 was refused classification by the BBFC in June 2007 in the UK, making it illegal to supply the game due to "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone... which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing". It had been since Carmaggedon in 1997 that the organization had refused to classify a game and that one was soon overturned when the humans were replaced by zombies. As expected, the game was banned in Germany as well (USK). The same happened in the United States were the ESRB gave the game an AO (Adults Only) rating, meaning Sony and Nintendo would not allow the game to be released on their consoles.
In August 2007 a reworked version of the game received an M (Mature) rating by the ESRB, although the organization did not reveal what had been changed. In The Netherlands an appeal to court was made to ban the game as well, but there were no means to outlaw the sale of a videogame and as such the uncut version of the game was allowed to be sold there even though Rockstar had not revealed intentions to still publish the original version. The UK ban was appealed but in the meantime Rockstar submitted the revised version for review. In October 2007 the BBFC rejected the game a second time, saying that, although it recognised that changes have been made, they didn't go far enough to address concerns raised with the original submission.
In December 2007 the UK Video Appeals Committee (VAC) ruled in favour of the publisher's right to release the game in the UK, with a majority vote of four to three. The BBFC contested this and announced to apply for a judicial review seeking to suspend the game's classification, taking it to Higher Court. Eventually, in March 2008, the High Court decided to resubmit Rockstar's original appeal to the VAC, on grounds of "errors of law". The VAC upheld its decision to permit the release of Manhunt 2 with an '18' certificate, and as such the UK release was then finally cleared. The game was eventually released on 31st October 2008, almost a year and a half after the official request for classification.
In vein of the San Andreas "hot coffee" scandal, hackers found a way to reverse the special effects filters that were put in place to obscure certain violent depictions, required for the revised rating of the game. This was confirmed for all three versions of the game.
Development was started soon after the release of the first game, in January 2004. As Rockstar North was working on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Rockstar Vienna was tasked with development. After more than two years, the studio was abruptly closed on 11th May 2006, leaving the release of the game uncertain. At the end of 2006 there were rumors Rockstar North had taken over development, but it lasted until February 2007 when the PS2, PSP and Wii version were officially announced. Rockstar North, the development studio behind the original game, oversaw production while three different studios were tasked for the specifics of each version.
The game fuelled a discussion for the the International Game Developers Association to come up with a Credit Standards Guide for games. Developers from Rockstar Vienna who had been working for two years on the game were not credited on the title, until Jurie Horneman posted a list of the missing games to the best of his knowledge on his personal blog.