A video game in which players take on the role of a murderous death-row inmate has been given a "Restricted" rating by Ontario's film review board.

Wednesday's ruling means that Manhunt can't be sold or rented to anyone in the province who is under the age of 18.

It is the first video game to have an "R" rating applied by the board.

The Ontario Theatres Act provides for fines of up to $25,000 for underage purchasers, and up to $100,000 for retailers who sell or rent a restricted film or game to them.

Manhunt features numerous gruesome ways for players to dispatch their opponents, including suffocating them with plastic bags and stabbing them with shards of broken glass.

It was assessed and rated by the Ontario Film Review Board, an arm's-length agency of the provincial government, following complaints from parents.

"I think it's a good decision on the part of the board," said Ontario Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Watson.

"Some of these games are going to the point where they are so degrading and quite frankly, young children shouldn't be engaged in some of these video games.

"I've never seen anything like it before."

Manhunt has been banned in New Zealand where it was deemed "injurious to the public good," as well as in Australia.