The UK all formats Christmas number one has finally been revealed, and as expected, it is Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed: Underground 2
. In a slight anti-climax to the intense speculation that always surrounds the number one title in the UK, the entire top six games have remained in exactly the same position as last week.
Even so, excepting two titles from different EA divisions, that means that the top seven titles are all from different publishers, completely smashing Electronic Arts’ hold on the Christmas charts, which last year saw six of the top ten titles being published by the publishing giant.
Despite this healthy amount of variety, the actual titles that have performed well are, perhaps inevitably, not those that have received the most critical acclaim. The only two titles in the top ten to have received something close to universal praise are Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
and Pro Evolution Soccer 4
(aka Winning Eleven 8
has slipped out of the top ten to number eleven, and Half-Life 2
has sunk to twenty-five (although the latter’s chart position does not include online sales via Steam). The much hyped Killzone
is at number nineteen, while there is not a single exclusive GameCube or Game Boy Advance title in the whole top forty.
Despite this, this Christmas will go down as a particularly good one for quality titles, regardless of how well they sold, and the combination of critically acclaimed titles and some notable success for a greater number of publishers can only be seen as healthy for the industry as a whole.