News from the virtual world:
—STALLED AUTO: Rockstar Games, the whipping boy of video-game violence watchdogs, has taken a pretty rough beating over the last year or so. Its
"Manhunt 2" was, essentially, banned. "Table Tennis" and "Bully" games didn't exactly burn up the sales charts. Thank goodness "Grand Theft Auto IV" is right around the corner.
Except it isn't. The latest chapter in Rockstar's crime franchise, which was scheduled for fall, has been bumped back to 2008.
Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Rockstar's parent company, Take-Two Interactive, said, "Certain elements of development proved to be more time-intensive than expected, especially given the commitment for a simultaneous release on two very different platforms," the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
"I can assure everyone it will be worth the wait," Zelnick said as the miscreants who make up the "GTA" fan base filled the Internet with howls of anguish. Where will they turn this fall?
Well, Microsoft's "Halo 3" and Nintendo's "Metroid Prime 3" are still on the way, but I'm betting that Rockstar's woes end up helping Midway's "Stranglehold" the most. It's now the most high-profile crime game coming out this year.
—SEE NO EVIL: With no "Grand Theft Auto" to kick around, some other game has to pick up the slack in the controversy department. And the winner is ... "Resident Evil 5," the latest chapter in Capcom's survival horror series.
Since "RE5" was announced at last month's E3 Media and Business Summit there's been a lot of discussion over its trailer.
The video shows hero Chris Redfield taking on a village full of zombies — a typical "RE" scenario. The problem is that the village appears to be in Africa, so all the zombies are black. Chris is white.
"This is problematic on so many levels," wrote blogger Kym Platt, "including the depiction of black people as inhuman savages (and) the killing of black people by a white man in military clothing."
But "RE" fans leapt to the game's defense, pointing out that previous installments have required the player to mow down waves of white zombies.
Meanwhile, a sharp-eared member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations heard the Islamic religious phrase "Allahu Akbar" ("God is most great") being chanted in a trailer for Capcom's innocuous "Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure."
After getting a letter from CAIR, Capcom responded quickly: "The phrase has been removed from the game and will not be heard in future videos released to the public," a spokesman said.
—CON GAMES: There's one thing we gamers have picked up from our brethren in science-fiction fandom: We love a convention. Last weekend saw three big ones.
QuakeCon, in Dallas, is ground zero for devotees of Id Software's "Doom" and "Quake" franchises.
Id CEO Todd Hollenshead dropped all sorts of announcements, including a new "Quake" title for Xbox Live Arcade and a new "Wolfenstein" project for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Hollenshead left the big reveal, however, to Id cofounder John Carmack: Called "Rage," it's a postapocalyptic adventure that adds driving to the first-person shooting that Id has perfected over the years.
Then there's BlizzCon, a celebration of Blizzard Entertainment's "Warcraft," "StarCraft" and "Diablo" series.
Besides getting some hands-on time with the long-awaited "StarCraft II," BlizzCon attendees got the first look at "Wrath of the Lich King," the next expansion for "World of Warcraft."
For "EverQuest" fans, there's the Sony Online Entertainment Fan Faire, held this year in Las Vegas.
SOE president John Smedley regaled his minions with his plans for "Legends of Norrath," a trading-card game that will be playable within "EverQuest."
Still, it wouldn't be Vegas without a wedding, and Fan Faire hosted what may be a first: two players getting married in real life while their "EverQuest II" avatars got married within the game.
—NEW IN STORES: Electronic Arts climbs aboard the rhythm-game bandwagon with "Boogie," for the Wii. ... Capcom's DS role-playing game "Mega Man Star Force" comes in three versions: "Dragon," "Leo" and "Pegasus." ... The PlayStation Portable gets a couple of classic-game ports: Sega's "Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars" and Eidos' "Tomb Raider Anniversary."