Games developers keep vampire hours, working through the summer so that we may have diversions when the long evenings arrive. The season is the only time many publishers can turn a profit, and the push starts long before British wintertime robs all but postmen of honest daylight. It’s fair to say that it started this week, in fact.

The biggest splash has been nu-wave role-playing game Star Wars – Knights of the Old Republic from Bioware, which has seen an unusual harmony of reviewers chorusing this as the second reason to own Microsoft’s console. Last year broke a lengthy run of dreadful Star Wars titles – mainly in-house genre clones for the original PlayStation, although plenty of other culprits litter the discount baskets. Farming out the franchise to third parties has injected some vital vim, producing gems like this and Rogue Leader, and renewing LucasArts’ license to print money. Patient PC owners can look forward to a conversion; everyone else can make do with stick fights in the fresh air.

The year has heard a crescendo of plaudits touting this Christmas as a bonanza season for the PC, with Doom III and the follow-ups to Half-Life and Homeworld tantalising the spec-chasing cognoscenti. Sadly, the first of the uber-anticipated games to see shelf space, Republic – The Revolution, has proven to be a damp squib, earning the kind of ‘quite good’ scores that never brings a game the audience it deserves, like it should be, when playing games from dream jackpot. That’s partly its own fault, though: after selling itself on the prospect of controlling infinitely detailed and breathing virtual cityscapes, the final game has relegated these to be a processor-hungry vignette to the main enterprise, a map and stats world of politico-management. It is a shame, especially since without the cyber-cities the game would probably have been a good fit for the vast user-base of weedy desktops that underwrote The Sims‘ success.

Less cerebral rabble rousing will be kicking up dust on all platforms in Freedom Fighter, released next week. A squad based shooter of counterfactual history – commies run America – with the computer making a decent hash of the thinking for friend and foe alike. Word is that this could be launching a franchise – there are no strong character icons, but then the PlayStation2 seems to get by without them.

But can Sonic get by without a platform of his own? Now on Gamecube in a misnomered director’s cut, Sonic Adventure is the same as you’ve had elsewhere, but lengthened and tidied. Without Sega producing hardware, though, he seems a little displaced – in fact, he’s been a bit of a vagabond since the MegaDrive died a peripheral-laden death. Perhaps game icons are more like firmware than we know.