There was no change at the top of the UK charts this week, with EA's Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun once again the nation's best selling game, with the publishing giant also occupying second, third and fourth positions for the second week running with FIFA 2004, Need For Speed: Underground and Return Of The King, respectively.
EA's supporting cast performed exceptionally too, with Quidditch World Cup (No.8), SSX 3 (No.20), Tiger Woods (No.22), The Sims: Makin' Magic (No.23) and Rugby 2004 (No.25), all contributing to the EA coffers. Even its budget titles got in on the act, with three of last year's releases in the All Prices Top 40 (Medal Of Honor: Frontline at No.26, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at No.32, and Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers at No.39).
The only new entry on the chart this week was Atari's derided Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines at No.28, while Rockstar's Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne re-entered at No.19 thanks to the belated arrival of the PS2 and Xbox versions, and LucasArts' marvellous Knights Of The Old Republic re-entered at No.37 on the back of the PC version's release.
Ubisoft experienced mixed fortunes this week, with XIII by far the highest climber, up 12 places to No.14 thanks to retailer promotion. Its other big Christmas releases slumped, however, with Prince Of Persia down eight places to No.18, while Rainbow Six III dropped to No.35. The excellent Beyond Good & Evil, depressingly, has failed to appear on any chart to date, while Ubi's other recent releases such as Lords Of Everquest, Batman and Lock On also failed to trouble the listings.
It was another desperately disappointing week for Microsoft, with all of its priority releases performing massively below expectations despite heavy promotion. [I can't actually go five minutes here without an Xbox bus ad driving past the window. -Tom] New release Counter-Strike entered at a lowly No.13 on the Xbox chart, Project Gotham Racing 2 dropped an incredible ten places to No.27 in its first full week on sale, while only Top Spin could scrape the Xbox Top 20, leaving the likes of Links 2004, Grabbed By The Ghoulies, Amped 2, Voodoo Vince and NBA Inside Drive destined for the discount racks come early next year.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! aside (still at No.16), it was a similarly disappointing week for Nintendo, with Mario Party 5 only managing No.5 in the Cube chart, while recent release 1080: Avalanche dropped out of the Top 20 after just one week, leaving F-Zero GX to struggle at No.19 as the remaining member of Ninty's Christmas line-up.
Vivendi, meanwhile, had good news with Simpsons: Hit & Run rising three places to No.5 and Crash Nitro Kart rising to No.24, but it also had a fair bit of bad news to swallow as the new releases such as SWAT: Global Strike Team, The Hobbit, Contract J.A.C.K, Metal Arms and The War Of The Ring failed to get anywhere near the all-important Top 40.
The ever-popular EyeToy, meanwhile, had its best-ever sales week, rising to No.9, but follow-up EyeToy: Groove has failed to dent the chart as yet. Sony's other Christmas releases have also struggled badly, with Ghosthunter not denting the Top 20 PS2 chart, WRC 3 conspicuously absent, and the big platforming duo Jak II and Ratchet & Clank II are currently sat rather anonymously at No.34 and No.30 respectively.
On a per format basis, the sole Xbox-exclusive representative in the Top 40 was Gotham 2, Mario Kart was the Cube's, while the PS2 managed several, notably EyeToy, Smackdown, Manhunt, Prince of Persia, Rugby 2004, Jak II, and Ratchet & Clank II - no surprises there.
The remainder of the year's chart is unlikely to see a great deal of change, save for some more EA releases in the shape of The Sims: Bustin' Out (a top tip for Christmas No.1), Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone and possibly Total Club Manager.