Plugged In

For those about to rock…

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Rock icons AC/DC are set the become the first group to be featured in a standalone “Rock Band” expansion pack.

“AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack” will be available this November exclusively at Wal-Mart and should retail for around $40. The pack contains 18 live recordings from the band’s 1991 performance at Donington, UK. Though the game is a standalone effort and does not require either version of “Rock Band” to play, the tracks can be imported for use in “Rock Band” or “Rock Band 2.”

As a longtime AC/DC fan, this is the announcement I’ve been waiting for. November can’t get here soon enough!

Bungie jumping to new project?

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After its presentation was yanked from E3 at the last minute by Microsoft, the future of “Halo” developer Bungie has been up in the air lately. Now, after a few cryptic messages on the Bungie.com Web site, the folks behind Master Chief have pulled back the curtain on their next project.

A short trailer for what appears to be a new “Halo” game — or at least a game based in the “Halo” universe — debuted on the site Thursday morning. Is it “Halo 4”? Is it the long-rumored squad-based shooter set in the “Halo” world? Is it just a big hoax?

Watch the video below and decide for yourself.

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‘Call of Duty 4′ maps on sale

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PlayStation 3 owners who’ve been holding off on purchasing the “Call of Duty 4” Variety Map Pack are in luck — Activision is cutting the price of the pack in half for a limited time.

Beginning today at 5 p.m. today and running through Sept. 25, gamers can download the four-map pack for $4.99 — down from the regular price of $9.99. In conjunction with the sale, PS3 gamers will enjoy a Double XP Weekend beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

Random musings …

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| In case you didn’t get the memo, people really, really like the “Madden NFL” franchise.

EA recently released its own sales data for the annual NFL title and “Madden ’09” pulled in a whopping $133.5 million in sales between its Aug. 12 launch and Sept. 1. That’s roughly a six percent increase in first-month sales from the release of “Madden ’08.”

EA also noted that the game outperformed some of the month’s biggest movies — “Tropic Thunder” ($83.9 million) and “Pineapple Express” ($79.9 million). Here’s hoping EA pours some of that money back into the game’s development and makes “Madden ’10” everything it could (and should) be.

| Speaking of EA, the company announced that the videogame tie-in to the next “Harry Potter” film has been delayed. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will be released in the summer of 2009 to coincide with the film, which was likewise pushed back from its Nov. ’08 release.

| Keep an eye out for demos for “Left 4 Dead” and “Fracture.” Both are expected to hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the coming weeks.

| Microsoft is shutting down its talented development house Ensemble Studios, the team behind the fantastic PC strategy series “Age of Empires” and the upcoming Xbox 360 RTS “Halo Wars.”

The move is not expected to delay the release of “Halo Wars,” which is currently on track for an early-2009 release.

| And finally, my Xbox 360 is once again resting comfortably atop my entertainment center. Unlike my last repair, though, I did not get my original console returned to me. Instead, I received a remanufactured unit that actually sounds worse than the system that died on me a few weeks ago.

Needless to say I’m more than a little concerned, but it seems to be working fine right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed — and my PS3 on standby.

That’s it for now. Football season always cuts into my gaming/writing time, but I’ve got games piling up on my desk that are begging to be played and reviewed. With any luck, I’ll be able to knock out reviews of “Mercenaries 2” and “NHL 2K9” shortly.

Xbox 360 sees another price drop

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After watching sales of its consoles slow to a trickle in recent months, Microsoft this week announced another round of price cuts for the Xbox 360.

The Arcade system, which does not include a hard drive, will now be available for $199, making it the only next-gen console on the market for less than $200. The Xbox 360 Arcade had been retailing for $279. The standard  Xbox 360, which now features a 60 gigabyte hard drive, will be $299 (down from $249). The Elite bundle, which includes a 120 GB hard drive, will be available for $399, $50 less than its previous price.

New console prices go into effect Friday, Sept. 5.