Week in video-games: 50 Cent's insane Mideast adventure; "Madden" approaches 20th anniversary

News from the virtual world:

- GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN': Vivendi's "50 Cent: Bulletproof" was one of the very worst games of 2005. The hip-hop star wasn't a bad choice to star in an urban crime adventure; this one, though, was so sloppily designed that it was nearly unplayable. Naturally, it sold more than a million copies.

So here comes the inevitable sequel, "50 Cent: Blood on the Sand," and it looks even more ludicrous than the original. It begins with 50 and his G-Unit crew performing a concert in a war-torn Middle East country. But after a local drug lord steals their money, expect "an all-out battle across two countries to collect payday and payback on those who have crossed 50 Cent!"

This can't end well, but "Blood on the Sand" could turn out to be so ridiculous that it's fun. And producer Aaron Blean promises it will be better than "Bulletproof."

"The first thing people are going to notice right out the gate is " not only the visuals and how incredible the environments and the game models look " I would also say the controls and the (artificial intelligence) will be much, much better than the first game," Blean told MTV News.

You can also expect some exclusive new tunes on the soundtrack. As well as plenty of plugs for 50's Vitamin Water brand.

- BE AFRAID: The announcement of "50 Cent: Blood on the Sand" got me to thinking about some of the other forthcoming games that, frankly, I'm dreading. Most of them are sequels to things I didn't care for the first time around, like THQ's "Grand Theft Auto" ripoff "Saints Row." Still, I can grasp how some gamers are psyched for "Saints Row 2"; the ones I'm worried about are those who clamored for "Just Cause 2," "Two Worlds: The Temptation" or "Shellshock 2: Blood Trails."

Then there are the long-running franchises that have run out of gas. Tony Hawk may be the most egregious example of an exhausted brand name, but I'm more depressed about "Legend of Spyro: Darkest Hour" " mainly because the little dragon has fallen so far from his great early games.

Games based on movies and TV shows can always be depended on for mediocrity, and nothing I've seen from "Iron Man," "Kung Fu Panda" or "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" indicates that they'll beat the odds. But the worst idea I've seen lately is a video game based on "Dexter," Showtime's serial-killer drama. I love the series, but I don't want Marc Ecko Entertainment " creators of the idiotic "Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure" " to get their hands on it.

And finally, the title says it all: "Major League Eating: The Game."

- FIRST AND 20: One game we look forward to every year is the latest installment of "Madden NFL," the venerable football simulation that has pretty much defined its genre for two decades now. Publisher EA Sports is planning to pull out all the stops for the game's 20th anniversary edition, which will be out Aug. 12.

The collector's edition of "Madden NFL 09" will include not just the game, but also the all-new strategic sim "NFL Head Coach 09." ("Head Coach" apparently won't be sold separately.) Your $90 will also buy you a ton of video clips and "exclusive classic 'Madden NFL' gameplay," which I hope means the resurrection of the Sega Genesis-era "John Madden Football 94."

- HACK AND SLASH: Some visitors to Sony's online PlayStation Store were apparently searching for more than just the latest "Rock Band" downloads. The company warned users last week of "a possibility of unauthorized access to personal information," which could have allowed hackers to change passwords or use another player's funds to buy games from the site.

Sony said PSN accounts don't display credit card information, so there's little risk of credit fraud. There's one way to be sure your account hasn't been affected, the company said: If you can sign in with your preset password, you're cool.

- NEW IN STORES: The sole highlight of this April Fools week is NIS America's school simulator/role-playing adventure "Mana Khemia: Alchemists of al-Revis" (PlayStation 2).


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