Plugged In

 Halo 3

The weather is getting hot and so is the gaming news. Here’s the latest:

During a conference call this week, Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games announced that the next installment in the GTA series is being pushed back from its previously announced Oct. 17 release date. GTA IV will now ship sometime during the second quarter of 2008, which means it should be available in late February or early April. Considering the enormous expectations for GTA IV, a delay wasn’t altogether unexpected. Hopefully the extra time will allow Rockstar to deliver on the hype.

Grand Theft Auto IV trailer:

Also this week, Microsoft and Bungie dropped a huge bomb on Halo 3 fanboys everywhere. While split-screen co-op play has been a staple of the franchise since the beginning, the multiplayer action is being kicked up a notch for the series finale. For the first time, up to four players can frag their way through the campaign mode together. That’s right, FOUR PLAYER ONLINE CO-OP!  Let that sink in for a minute . . . OK, now for the details. In addition to the Arbiter and Master Chief, gamers will have access to two new Covenant characters in Halo 3 — N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham. You can read their bios on the Bungie site. Halo 3 is still slated to be released Sept. 25, so if you don’t have three friends, you still have time to make some in order to enjoy the multiplayer goodness.

And finally, the long-awaited Xbox 360 price drop appears to be a reality. Sources have confirmed to Plugged In that a three-tiered price drop rumor that has been making its way around the Internet is, in fact, no rumor. Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 8, all three versions of the Xbox 360 console will see a price drop, ranging from $20-$50. The price of the core system, which does not include a hard drive, will drop from $299.99 to $279.99. The premium system, which includes a hard drive, will receive a $50 price cut from $399.99 to $349.99. And the price of the Elite system, with its 120 GB hard drive and HDMI output, will fall from $479.99 to $449.99. With Madden 08 and BioShock just around the corner — and Microsoft’s three-year warranty against the Red Ring of Death — there’s never been a better time to invest in an Xbox 360.