Real news from the virtual world:
— LIVING OFF THE GRID: "Madden" curse? What "Madden" curse?
That's the attitude of Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, one of the two gridiron stars featured on the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 10."
Fitzgerald is sharing the cover with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, and that's one reason he thinks the curse will be broken this year: It's the first time in the franchise's storied 21-year history that two athletes have been featured.
"Being on the cover of 'Madden' is a real honor," Fitzgerald said. "And sharing it with a talent like Troy is really special."
He also noted Madden's recent announcement that he'll be retiring from the NBC broadcast booth — which should give the venerable NFL commentator more time to focus on his namesake video game.
EA Sports President Peter Moore said, "It's been a privilege ... to have had the strong relationship we've had with John for more than two decades, and one that will continue into the future."
The theme of "Madden NFL 10" is "fight for every yard," and its hard-nosed enhancements include steerable tackles, gang tackles and brutal fights for fumbled balls.
EA says quarterbacks will also have more flexibility in escaping the pass rush.
Still, "Madden NFL" may be best known for its mysterious "curse": Previous cover models like Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Vince Young have suffered injuries during their "Madden" season.
But Fitzgerald was philosophical. "We don't control our own destiny," he said.
— BLOCKBUSTERS: The Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video-game industry's biggest party, is a little more than a month away, but companies are already jumping the gun with early announcements of some huge titles for this holiday season and beyond.
Two of the most popular franchises in the business are joining forces for Warner Bros. and MTV Games' "Lego Rock Band."
As you might guess, the collaboration between developers TT Games and Harmonix will let you build your own combo out of Lego blocks, then rock out to "chart-topping songs and classic favorites suitable for younger audiences."
Apparently (judging from an early set list), that means yes to "Kung Fu Fighting," no to "There Goes My Gun."
Expect some more big sequels. Ubisoft will have "Assassin's Creed 2" ready this year, with a new protagonist and a new setting, Renaissance Italy. And Sony's Insomniac Games studio will deliver its biennial "Ratchet & Clank" chapter, after the boys fall through "A Crack in Time."
No surprises there. However, one announcement that has raised some eyebrows is Bethesda's "Fallout: New Vegas," which will come out next year.
It's being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind "Neverwinter Nights 2" and "Knights of the Old Republic II." Bethesda says it isn't a sequel to last year's award-winning "Fallout 3," but "simply another 'Fallout' game in that universe."
Now if only we could get "Lego Fallout."
— NEW IN STORES: Snikt! Activision brings "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" to just about every game system.