UK Charts: Need For Speed Underground 2 grabs Christmas No.1
Electronic Arts' Need for Speed Underground sequel has gone one better than its predecessor, which finished 2003 at number two, and clinched the Christmas top spot.
Need For Speed Underground 2 has grabbed the coveted Christmas number one slot, holding onto the top spot for the fourth straight week ahead of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which settles for second place despite being the top selling PS2 game once again.
In a chart which shows very little top level movement of any note, the top six remain exactly where they were last week, with Activision once again reaping the benefits of the public's unending thirst for WW2 shooters having scored a creditable No.3 success with Call Of Duty: Finest Hour.
Of the aforementioned licensed titles, THQ scores biggest with the multiformat platformer The Incredibles doing a roaring trade on the back of the Pixar movie at No.4, FIFA 2005 (No.5) once again proved its utter dominance in the pre-Christmas footy market, while EA's lambasted GoldenEye: Rogue Agent still manages to pull in unwary punters judging by its No.8 position.
The public's unending thirst for The Simpsons: Hit & Run (No.10) also continues unabated, presumably thanks to the TV advertising we've seen lately and a new budget price - all of which provides VU Games with a second consecutive Christmas banker, which must be something of a relief given the absence of a bona-fide multi format blockbuster this year.
Elsewhere, WWE SmackDown! Vs Raw keeps on shifting the units (No.13), Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle Earth (No.15) is doing well for a PC-only RTS, Spider-Man 2 webslings eighteen places to No.16 to prove just as big a Christmas hit as a summer one, while another LOTR title, The Third Age (No.17), proves EA can eke plenty out of the popular brand even without a movie release to back.
Of the franchise big hitters, the newly multiformat Pro Evolution Soccer 4 continues to gain ground on FIFA at No.7, while Ubisoft will be relieved at the No.6 success of Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within, after last year's relative failure caused massive discounting well before Christmas had even arrived. Shame the masses are buying what the critics deem to be a significantly inferior sequel - who's right, who's wrong? And does this greater commercial success mean Ubisoft was justified, or is the success down to the previous game's brilliance, and the expectation surrounding that? Hmm.
More franchise success came from The Getaway: Black Monday (No.9), although sales are well down on the original, Halo 2 continues to be the top selling Xbox title (No.11), The Urbz (No.12) keeps The Simolean flag flying alongside the PC's biggest seller The Sims 2 (No.14), while Sony wins the webcam war with EyeToy: Play 2 (No.18), Activision's Tony Hawks star appears to be falling next to previous years with THUG 2 (No.20) scraping a Top 20 entry, while others such as the consistent Sonic Heroes (No.21) continue to do well. Half-Life 2 keeps on selling (No.25), but where would it be if Steam sales were included? VU keeps churning out the Marsupial sales with both Crash Twinsanity (No.27) and Crash Nitro Kart (No.34) doing well, while EA's Burnout 3 appears to have oddly suffered next to NFSU 2 at No.29 while the PC-only Medal Of Honor: Pacific Assault does respectably but not brilliantly to re-enter at No.34.
In fact, with Killzone (No.19) and Football Manager 2005 (No.23) being the only genuinely new brands to have been launched this Christmas, you could say that if you havenāt got a license, a franchise or a truck load of marketing cash, you haven't got a prayer of competing in the games charts these days. And with that we'll bid you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. We'll return with more chart action in 2005, but don't be at all surprised if they look exactly the same as this one...