We've just received a copy of the Classification Board's report on Syndicate, which explains why the game was refused classification.
Apparently the game allows players to not only decapitate enemies via the various different weapons available in the game, it also allows them to continue dismembering NPCs after the player has been killed.
... an intense sequence of violence commences when a player collect a "g290 minigun, which operates much like a Gatling gun. A player moves through a building rapidly firing at enemy combatants. Combatants take locational damage and can be explicitly dismembered, decapitated or bisected by the force of the gunfire. The depictions are accompanied by copious bloodspray and injuries are shown realistically and with detail. Flesh and bone are often exposed while arterial sprays of blood continue to spirt from wounds at regular intervals.
The same effects can be seen visually after the enemies have been killed in the game.
The game also allows a player to repeatedly damage enemy combatant's corpses. This is shown in realistic depictions. For example, it is possible for a player to decapitate a corpse with a headshot before individually blowing off each of its limbs. Depending on the weapon used, it is also possible to bisect a corpse, with realistic ragdoll effects noted. The depictions are again accompanied by arterial sprays of blood and detailed injuries that include protruding bone.
In the opinion of the Board, the game contains intense sequences of violence which include detailed depictions of decaptitation and dismemberment that are high in playing impact. The game also contains the ability to inflict repeated and realistic post mortem damage which exceeds strong in playing impact. It is therefore unsuitable for a minor to see or play and should be Refused Classification pursuant to item 1(d) of the computer games table of the Code.
Being perfectly honest, it sounds like Syndicate is a game that, in no shape or form, should be given an MA15+ rating and exists as yet another example of why we should have an R18+ rating for video games in Australia.
EA's local representatives are currently preparing a response to the situation. at this point we have no idea whether EA will re-submit the game for classification, although from this report it would seem unlikely. Far too much of the game would have to be changed and edited for the game to fit into the MA15+ classification, and with an early 2012 release it may be too difficult to get these changes applied before the game's release.
We'll update with more news as we get it.
You can read the report in full here.