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Hack Quarantine (PS2, pounds 29. 99) FAMED for the fusion of action and RPG genre, the dot hack phenomenon has rumbled on to its fourth instalment. Gamers familiar with the drill won't be surprised to learn that Quarantine involves yet more dungeon and server exploration, accumulation of treasure and epic ani me -style battle sequences. The formula in this version does seem to be getting tired, though, and anyone who's coming into the series blind will almost certainly be completely flummoxed. The difficulty level will also seriously hamper their enjoyment.

Nevertheless, fans who've fought their way through the three previous titles will find this final fling an adequate conclusion.

RATING: 6/10

Pool Shark 2 (XBox, pounds 29. 99) POOL and snooker games live and die by the realism of their in-game physics engine and, once this has been fine-tuned, you could argue most titles blend into one.

This is probably why Pool Shark has attempted to inject a bit of originality with its own set of individual characters. They have been developed in-depth and have their own motion capture, goading players before and after shots to try and get them to lose their concentration.

These nice touches aside, Pool Shark 2 does hold up as an enjoyable pool simulation, although anyone who already owns a game of this kind might want to question whether buying it is really worth the money.

RATING: 6/10

Call of Duty: Finest Hour (EA Games, Gamecube, pounds 39. 99)2004 has been a big year for war simulations, but it seems the gaming public are still thirsty for more. Call of Duty: Finest Hour comes bounding out of the trenches to paint an authentic picture of life on the front line of World War II's most intense battles.

With a familiar first-person perspective, players battle the Nazi war machine across all new missions, covering the North African, Eastern and Western Fronts. New missions range from epic battlefield conflicts featuring hundreds of soldiers to co-ordinated tactical assaults, sabotage, stealth and sniper missions. All of which is atmospherically absorbing, nicely presented and a real pleasure to play. There may be a myriad of war first person shooters on the market right now, but Finest Hour stands up to be counted.

RATING: 8/10
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 28, 2004
Previous Article:TRAVEL: Cool Cardiff heads the style stakes; Julie McCaffrey discovers a Welsh treasure.

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