Christmas Buildup

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The build-up to Christmas was a bittersweet pill, dear play chums. The final episode of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer played on terrestrial TV. All of a sudden, a lifetime of Thursday evenings stretched before me, with nothing to fill them. To ease the loss of one of pop culture's finest; I have started collecting the DVD box sets. Although it is a welcome distraction, I know there are only so many episodes I've missed and once I've watched all the commentaries"I'll be sans Buffy again. Fortunately, I have a burgeoning stack of games to take my mind off this sad state of affairs.

Christmas 2003 saw betting shops offering books on the video games chart for the first time ever. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, EA dominated the charts and the outcome was inevitable. With no less than six titles in the seasonal top ten, EA finally nabbed the top spot with Medal of Honour Rising Sun. EA's domination continued with Need for Speed Underground, which is still holding off competition from the GTA double pack.

Maybe this year, the veritable feast of titles at our disposal will threaten EA's reign. The 2004 release schedule has a lot to look forward to and I've selected a few of the more delectable morsels.

First date in the diary has to be the eventual release of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II. I've waited and waited and waited for this one, but to no avail. On perusing various release schedules, it seems Vivendi have plumped for beginning of February. About time is all I can say. Konami Boy and I have been devoid of co-operative gaming for far too long now.

Allegedly, Dragon's Lair 3D is being released on Xbox in February too. This has been on the cards for a while though and is becoming almost as elusive as Tony ‘Lara Croft' Gard's Galleon. Whether Dragon's Lair 3D will be a good thing is another matter entirely. And as for Galleon, it's hard to say. Way back in 2001, swashbuckling adventure was a fresh idea, but now we've had Pirates of the Caribbean and Prince of Persia. Galleon has already had a rocky history, but we'll just have to see if the means justify the end.

February seems to be something of a golden month, as it also promises to deliver us Harvest Moon on GBA. Another title for my SP is always welcome. Talking of which, Boktai is also due to be released in Quarter 2. Hopefully, the sun will be shining by then and we can take full advantage of Kojima's unique solar sensitive gameplay.

Spring 2004 is going to be a biggie. I'm talking Halo 2 and DOA online! I reckon it will be a happy Easter for the folks at Xbox if these two actually hit the shelves. For those that don't have the jolly green giant sitting under their TV, Halo 2 will be a sure fire way to make them commit. And DOA online will do great things for Xbox in Japan. Once DOA goes Live I'm signing up hook, line and sinker. Until then, I'm happy to remain an offline girl.

Rumour has it that Half-life 2 is also on the cards for quarter one. Amazon.co.uk still has it listed on pre-orders as being available December 2003, so it's anyone's guess when we will actually see it. I won't be holding my breath, but I'll certainly be keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

Summer could belong to Xbox too with the arrival of Molyneux's Fable. Just in case it's a rotten summer, a completely immersive world of epic proportions could be just what we need on those rainy June days.

GameCube hasn't got much to shout about this year, but what it does have could be well worth the wait. Pikmin 2 heralds a new and improved gardening sim. I could be in co-operative play heaven if I can persuade KB that Pikmin isn't really as annoying as he thinks. I'm also keen to see if the new actually is improved.

But my most anticipated title on GameCube this year has to be Killer 7. Stylistically it looks fantastic. However, Capcom has been keeping their cards very close to their chest on this one and you couldn't be blamed for thinking they might have something to hide. Are they hiding a good thing, or a severe lack of gameplay to match up to the awesomely unique graphics? The story is sketchy and the gameplay is even vaguer, so I'm not making any predictions. I am looking forward to finding out more though.

Until the 2004 bounty comes rolling in, it's been a bumper Christmas and I have enough games to keep me out of trouble. But it's looking good. I'm off to watch an episode of Buffy and wait for the good times.

Chella's current state of play:

Most played: Otogi

Most wanted: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II

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