Over a quarter of a million units sold as Bungie's opus ignites retail
Bungie's Xbox exclusive FPS title Halo 2 has gone straight in at number one in the UK charts, racking up over 260,000 sales in its first week and becoming the third fastest selling title on record in the process.
The game knocks Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas off the top spot, with Rockstar's latest dropping to number two in the chart, but its first week record is intact - San Andreas is still at number one in that all-time ranking, followed by stablemate GTA Vice City at number two.
Halo 2 achieved remarkable penetration among Xbox owners in the UK in its launch week, with around one in six console owners picking up a copy of the game, compared with one in ten PS2 owners buying a copy of San Andreas when it launched a few weeks ago.
The rest of the chart shows a busy week for new releases, with THQ's WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw making a strong debut at number three in the chart - almost certainly the strongest performance that the WWE franchise has had on the PlayStation 2 to date.
Sony's The Getaway: Black Monday is at number six in the chart, a good debut for the title despite mixed critical response, which ironically comes in the same week that its predecessor, The Getaway, was knocked out of the third place spot in the all-time fastest selling ranking by Halo 2.
Completing the roster of new releases in the top ten was EA's The Urbz: Sims In The City, which is a decent if unremarkable debut for the latest console iteration of The Sims - perhaps reflecting consumer unfamiliarity with the change to the "The Urbz" brand for the console titles in the franchise.
The rest of the top ten shows three football titles still performing strongly, with FIFA 2005 at number four, Football Manager 2005 at number five, and Pro Evolution Soccer 4 at number seven. Expect a shot in the arm for PES4 in next week's chart, though, with the Live-enabled Xbox version of the game due out on Friday.
Further down the chart, there are new releases a-plenty, with Ratchet & Clank 3 in at number 17, a place behind Eye Toy: Play 2, which enters at number 16 in its second week on sale, and ahead of THQ's The Incredibles at number 23 (expect it to rise with the release of the movie) and Ubisoft's MMORPG EverQuest II at number 25.
Nintendo has a slightly disappointing debut for two of its Christmas hopes, with GameCube title Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door at number 36 this week, followed by GBA adventure The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap at number 37. Paper Mario 2 performed very strongly in the USA last month, so its failure to trouble the top ten in the UK is doubly disappointing, although the low sales of The Minish Cap may well be attributed to the fact that many consumers don't seem to be aware that the game is actually out.
The missing in action list this week is surprisingly short - a few GBA titles such as Finding Nemo: The Continuing Adventures, TRON 2.0 and Lilo & Stitch 2 fail to make an impact, but then again, if the new Legend of Zelda game can't surpass number 37 in the chart, what hope for some second generation Disney tie-ins?
And next week? As if you need to be told. Half-Life 2 hits shelves (and the Steam online service) this week, while EA rolls out one of its big guns in the form of Need for Speed Underground 2, Konami finally hands gamers the Xbox and PC versions of Pro Evolution Soccer 4, Midway's Mortal Kombat: Deception arrives fresh from sales success in North America, Nintendo brings along superb Cube RPG Tales of Symphonia, and there's a host of other stuff like Sid Meier's Pirates!, SingStar Party, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines hitting shelves as well, in a week that promises to be even busier than last week was for retail. Phew.