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UK Charts: Need For Speed hangs on at the top

But The Simpsons: Hit & Run is on the rise.

The top selling UK game for the second week running was EA's Need For Speed: Underground - one of five titles from the US giant in the top six, with Rising Sun, FIFA 2004, Return Of The King and The Sims: Bustin' Out still selling strongly despite the huge discounting rife in the high street.

The sole title to challenge EA near the top was Vivendi's The Simpsons: Hit & Run, now up to No.2 - its highest position to date. With Rockstar's GTA Double Pack now 'officially' on sale on Xbox it soared 11 places to No.7, and up to No.1 in the Xbox chart.

Elsewhere the chart had one sole new entry - the No.40 appearance of Atari's Splinter Cell clone Mission Impossible: Operation Surma, while the sale effect propelled LucasArt's Rebel Strike up to No.38 and SCi's Conflict: Desert Storm II to No.35. Likewise, and the cut-price Soul Calibur II moved back to No.19.

Console by console

Xbox-wise, the chart was dominated by multi-format titles once again, with only Project Gotham Racing 2 (No.2 Xbox, No.25 Full Price All Format) and Rainbow Six III (No.4, No.39) showing up among the best sellers. The January sales have propelled Crash Bandicoot: Wrath Of Cortex back up to No.7 and TimeSplitters 2 to No.9, but other than that the charts are dominated by seven titles from EA. Just Top Spin (No.19) and Counter-Strike (No.20) break up the sequence.

On the GameCube Nintendo predictably dominate proceedings, with no fewer than eight first party titles to choose from in the Top 20 - however, of these, just Mario Kart: Double Dash!! made the All Format listing at a lowly No.34, despite being the No.1 Cube title yet again. Elsewhere, the Cube listings are beginning to worryingly resemble a budget chart, with just over handful of bona-fide full price titles - and mainly EA ones at that.

The PS2 chart remains almost identical to last week's, with virtually no movement inside the Top 10. EyeToy: Play at No.10 on the PS2 chart and No.14 Full Price remains the best selling exclusive title, followed by SmackDown (No.12, No.20) and Manhunt (No.13, No.23).

Budget's the way

Interestingly, with the next gen budget catalogue swelling to the hundreds, the best-selling cheapo title is Crash Bandicoot: Wrath Of Cortex - a British produced title that was originally perceived to have flopped but is now doing great business at a lower price point. Even in the All Formats it's at No.14, and Naughty Dog must be frustrated that the superior Jak & Daxter and its sequel are nowhere to be seen while Crash games sell like never before. Even Rayman 3, at No.11 in the budget chart is starting to sell serious units after a typically quiet launch at full price last year.

Other titles that have only realised their commercial potential at budget are Hitman 2 (No.4 Budget, No.24 All Format), Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly (No.5, No.28), TimeSplitters 2 (No.8), Tekken 4 (No.19), Shrek: Treasure Hunt (No.25) and Scooby Doo & The Cyber Chase (No.26), while ancient Bullfrog stalwarts Theme Park World (No.18), and Theme Hospital (No.30) illustrate just how long games can continue selling for.

PC game sales may make up a big proportion of the overall units, but full price titles are notable by their absence from the All Formats listing, with Championship Manager: Season 03/04 (No.16 Full Price, No.2 PC), being outsold by Norton Internet Security of all things. The Sims: Makin' Magic (No.30, No.2) was the only other PC exclusive to figure inside the Top 40 with Call Of Duty (No.6) dropping out of the chart altogether. Identical versions of EA's console titles figured prominently throughout the Top 20 again, but the charts make quite grim reading for die-hard PC fans on the whole.

Checking the PC budget chart for sanity revealed once again that the populist titles are shifting the units, with Theme Hospital holding firm at No.1, and a trio of Sims expansion packs making their debut inside the Top 20. Deus Ex nestles at No.19, Hitman holds on at No.20, while Red Alert 1 and 2 are also still proving popular among cost-conscious gamers.

Holding hands

On the impressively-selling GBA, it was an EA one-two with The Sims: Bustin' Out holding onto the top slot for the second week running, and Return Of The King up to No.2. Elsewhere, the brand dominated listing featured two Mario and two Pokemon titles in the Top 10, as well as Crash, Spyro and FIFA just to shock us.

And that just about wraps it up for another week for you stattos. Next week is unlikely to see any major change, unless another batch of poor selling titles gets discounted to death to prompt an unexpected sales surge. Given how many there are floating about in warehouses unloved and unsold, expect ever-more desperate sales at a store near you.

To view the charts in full, please visit