Electronic Arts has ended 2003 in fine form, with Medal of Honor: Rising Sun taking the coveted Christmas Number One spot in the UK charts, and Need for Speed: Underground grabbing the last number one spot of the year.
EA's success saw six titles from the publisher in the top ten at Christmas, with The Sims Bustin' Out being the only new entry in the chart, at number eight. Vivendi's The Simpsons: Hit & Run also had a merry Christmas, climbing the chart to take the number three spot.
The top five titles for Christmas were bulked out with Need for Speed: Underground at number two, FIFA 2004 at number four and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King at number five. The other EA title in the top ten was Quidditch World Cup at number nine, with the remainder of the top ten being made up of Activision's Christmas duo, with True Crime and Tony Hawk Underground at numbers six and seven respectively, and THQ's Disney tie-in Finding Nemo at number ten.
Rising Sun's victory at the top of the charts certainly proves the majority of pundits wrong; while we'd expected The Sims Bustin' Out to grab the top spot in time for Christmas, we weren't as far wrong as the bookies who tipped Codemasters' Pop Idol as the Christmas number one in early December. In the end, Codies' title managed a respectable if unremarkable placing at number 25.
The last chart of the year, for the week ended December 28th, already shows signs of the January sales discounting taking effect - with major climbs up the rankings for Ubi Soft's titles Prince of Persia (up four places to number nine) and XII (up eight places to number 11) as well as Take Two's Max Payne 2 (up four places to number ten) and EA's Tiger Woods 2004 (up 12 places to number 14).
Take Two's Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack benefited from the breaking of the street date of the Xbox version (something causing no small amount of chagrin among independent retailers at the moment) and discounting of the PS2 version, climbing to number 18 in the ranking from the previous week's number 39.