Entirely Baseless Analysis: UK Charts

One of the really fun things about writing for RPS is we don’t have to look at each and every game – we can just focus on what’s interesting and gibber away about it until we get bored. This does cause a sort of tunnel vision, though, in that I’ve been so wrapped up in certain games that I’ve very little idea what’s going on in the PC games market at large. What are people actually buying? Why? Is it wrong to murder them as they sleep for it?

So, I thought I’d have a little look at the current UK top 10 PC games (according to ELSPA), and make some completely irrelevant comments about ’em. Unfortunately I’m hungover again – drinking on Monday nights is a bad idea even for shiftless freelancers like me – so my joke glands aren’t working properly, I’m afraid. Make up your own gags and pretend I wrote ’em, if you like. Then maybe we’ll both feel better about this post.

1. Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
A surprise chartopper, given a lot of people have pre-emptively whined about it and made unfair Team Fortress 2 comparisons. It’s an excellent if wobbly-UIed team shooter, and it thoroughly deserves its success. This doesn’t include Steam sales of the game of course, which added to this may well make it one of the most successful id-related games in quite some time. Expect it to be thoroughly humbled by the Orange Box’s physical release on Friday, though.

2. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage
Where there was, for all their cynicism, something vaguely iconic and memorable about most of the Sims 1 expansion packs (I could, for instance, still name pretty much all of them off the top of my head), the Sims 2’s raft of addons just confuses me utterly. I don’t know how many there have been, I don’t know when this one came out and I have zero curiosity for what it does. Also, ‘Bon Voyage’ suggests bidding farewell to the Sims 2, which is tragically not the case. But I suspect history will soon repeat itself – my loathing for the original Sims had just about reached critical mass around the time of the ‘Makin’ Magic’ (Witches! Quests! Needlessly missing Gs!) expansion, and then the rather sublime Sims 2 hit soon afterwards. I hope the fact I can’t think about that game without grimacing now means the Sims 3 (and, surely surely surely, some really interesting online community stuff) is right around the corner.

3. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Glad to see this doing so well, as I worried it might be a bit inaccessible to mainstream players. It really is an excellent expandalone for one of the finest RTSes ever made, and we should have written more about it on RPS. We got distracted, I fear.

4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Hard Evidence

I’ve never played a CSI game, but I believe this is the 89th this year. I do, however, suffer my girlfriend watching CSI on a near-constant basis, so this being so high in the charts fills me with fear, in case she becomes aware of its existence and I duly find I can’t use my PC anymore.
Seriously though, I’d be fascinated to hear why so many people buy this. Is it purely because of the familiarity of the name, or is it truly satisfying a latent desire in thousands of people to investigate crime scenes? Are people playing it to roleplay, or just because they want to spend more time with characters off the TV?

5. World in Conflict
Ack, pangs of guilt. I own a still-shrinkwrapped copy of this, and I know I should play it. No time to (apart from all the hours I spend in Team Fortress 2, but those are important), and I fear I’m going to hit a nasty situation like last year, when I hadn’t gotten around to playing Company of Heroes yet and thus didn’t vote for it in the annual Eurogamer games o’ the year feature. The game didn’t place particularly highly in the resulting list, and when I did finally turn my tired eyes to its lovely form, I was absolutely horrified at myself for neglecting it. I’m given to understand WiC is nowhere near the game CoH is, but sometimes an 8/10 title is exactly what the doctor ordered. My RPS comrades have great enthusiasm for it, so expect it to appear in however we decide to handle our own year-end list feature.

6. FIFA 08
Apparently being able to say “Pro Evo’s still the king” is all I need to successfully bluff that I understand foot-to-ball games.

7. Medal Of Honor: Airborne
My review of this in PCFormat is in the shops now, I believe. It’s actually a pretty good big-silly-action thingy (don’t believe for one second that it’s anything like a believable soldier sim), though the ridiculous Nazi super-soldiers towards the end really screw up the atmosphere.

8. The Settlers: Rise of an Empire

The best Settlers since 2. I say why in the next issue of PC Gamer and, if they’re super-kind, for no-money on their website.

9. Bioshock
Did we ever mention this game on RPS? I can’t recall. Anyway. My fondness for it seems to subside a little with each passing day. The revelation that the harshly binary multiple endings weren’t the developers’ idea heavily reinforced my problems with the telling of the narrative. What it has definitely done, though, is add characters and quotes to the gaming lexicon, and there’s not many games that achieve that these days. Glad it’s still selling well.

10. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
I’ll pass you over to Kieron for this one, but hopefully we’ll chronicle some cackhanded NWN2 co-op on RPS soon.

So, that’s only 3 EA games in the top ten, which must be some sort of record. Thoughts? Agree, disagree, can’t believe Monkey Toucher 5000 isn’t in there?


  1. Kieron Gillen says:

    Monkey Toucher 5000 is the new Darwinia.


  2. Babs says:

    Damn you both!

    I just Googled ‘Monkey Toucher 5000’ and now I’m disapointed that it is not a new game in the much neglected Simian Interferance genre.

  3. Cigol says:

    You liked the new Settlers? I thought it was quaint in story mode but there was virtually no artificial intelligence within the game – it’s all scripted. I much preferred the likes of Anno 1701.

  4. The_B says:

    It’s weird. It’s the first chart in a while where I’ve found almost the entire ten enteries to be…satisfying.

    Except The Sims. And maybe CSI. And Fifa. But their appearance doesn’t really surprise me.

    I’m still crossing my fingers that upon Brutal Legend’s release it will finally give Double Fine the high charting position they were so cruelly denied from with Psychonauts. Yes General Game Buying Public, I still haven’t forgiven you for that one.

  5. Turin Turambar says:

    The list has already been updated. Now it is like this:

    1 The Sims 2: Bon Voyage
    2 Quake Wars: Enemy Territory
    3 Csi: Hard Evidence
    4 Rail Simulator
    5 Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
    6 World In Conflict
    7 Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
    8 The Settlers: Rise of An Empire
    9 Medal of Honor: Airborne
    10 FIFA 08

  6. Feet says:

    I remember reading the review of Makin’ Magic in PCG when it was first released, it might have been reviewed by one of you lot, or possibly Cobbett, my memory fails me. Anyway it basically described the typical day of an EA exec, the one who decided to drop the g. Was very well done, and I always recall it when I see the words “The Sims”.

  7. Alec Meer says:

    That review was me, in fact, and one of my prouder moments, so chuffed someone remembers it. A rare instance of being able to slip a concept review past PCG’s overlords.

  8. Rahul Gonsalves says:

    Hmmm. I still enjoy the Settlers 2. The 10th Anniversary Edition gets plenty of play time. But the Rise of an Empire one? Granted, I haven’t finished it, neither have I read your review, but the inability to have multiple storehouses was a serious, serious mistake, IMHO.

    @cigol, how does Anno 1701 stack up as a city-building game? Does it justify a ‘Strategy’ tag?

  9. Ryan Williams says:

    The CSI game is made by the excellent Telltale Games, also making the Sam & Max episodes, so clearly it has to be superb!

    Actually I have no idea, but considering the development talent it might actually be a good game. I doubt 99% of the people who bought it considered the whole ‘quality’ thing seriously though, as I’m assuming that audience is largely a bit thick and doesn’t really have an opinion on anything they play.

    I am not a generalist.

  10. Bob Arctor says:

    Makin Magic PCG review was hilarious. One of my favourite bad-game-reviews.

  11. Chis says:

    > 2. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage

    Well, it wasn’t going to be Erotic Dreams, was it?

    (More’s the pity ;P)

  12. Garth says:

    I’m shocked Quake Wars is selling that well (although that is the UK list, and that type of game is quite popular there. It felt so mediocre to me, I figured it’d do O.K., then disappear.

    Guess we’ll see, eh?

  13. Joe says:

    Is the makin’ magic review on the internet anywhere?

  14. Kast says:

    I myself am an ardent CSI: Las Vegas fan. I love the series and books and consider it my equivalent of a soap – come for the forensics, stay for the drama.

    I’ve played the first three games and found them all brutally tedious. I wanted them to be fun. I wanted them to be intelligent and imaginative. Instead they are without exception plain, cliché-ed piles of tripe. Nothing but find-the-pixel searches, carpet-bomb style conversation trees and (worst of all) bored voice acting. Voice acting, I tell you! The one thing you’d expect it to get right!

    But no. I was betrayed. Luckily I’d only borrowed the games so CBS Interactive never got my precious money.

    (Also, I wonder if anyone will read this? The articles about to fall off the front page).

  15. Alec Meer says:

    Kast: WE READ ALL
    Joe: No, sadly. Don’t have my original text either, and it was written during my time at Future Publishing so I wouldn’t have the rights to it in any case.

  16. Alec Meer says:

    Apparently someone just found their way to RPS by Googling for Monkey Toucher 5000. Perhaps if we all believe hard enough, the game will spring into existence.

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