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NFS tipped as Xmas No. 1

Bookmaker Paddy Power has predicted that EA's Need for Speed will top the all-formats software chart for the third year running this Christmas.

NFS: Carbon is the favourite with odds of 8/13, followed by fellow EA title FIFA 07 at 4 to 1. NFS: Most Wanted took the number one spot last year, while NFS: Underground 2 achieved the same feat in 2004.

Hit Xbox 360 shooter Gears of War has been given odds of 10 to 1, along with Rainbow Six: Vegas and Vivendi's new movie tie-in, Eragon.

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Also in the running are Tony Hawk's Project 8, Superman Returns, Call of Duty 3 and the latest instalment in the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series, plus family-oriented titles Bratz: Forever Diamonds and Happy Feet at 80 to 1. The full list of odds is available at PaddyPower.com.

"Need for Speed is the game to beat every year and this year it's no different," said Paddy Power's Sharon McHugh.

"There are some great games out there - FIFA 07 is proving to be very popular with enhanced features that have made it go straight to No.1 in the charts. Gears of War has also been hailed as one of the best games this year, but the fact it's only available on the Xbox 360 means it won't be able to compete with Need for Speed."

ELSPA MD Mike Rawlinson said Christmas 2006 is likely to be "another great year" for videogames, adding, "There are lots of strong competitors as always and it is impossible to tell if the favourite will make it or be pipped to the post last minute. There is a great selection of games that will appeal to various age groups and styles of gameplay to battle it out."

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