I am doing a dual review here since both games are practically the same besides the story and the pictures as well as the sound track. Graphically it is the same engine, and plays the same way. Think of it as an expansion pack of one another.
Hacking sims are a genre unto themself. There is a fairly small market for it since it is mainly for the more 'hardcore’ users. I say this only because of the interface. The interface is user friendly, but people who play Tycoon games and Beesly’s Buzzwords and stuff like that usually turn away from games like these.
However, these games offer something that a lot of games don’t: a semi-realistic look into the eyes of a hacker. Of course any real hacker would probably laugh at games like these, because it is not this easy. The interface is completely different than what we see from movies like Hackers and the rest. There is no fancy gui, there are no 3D objects that define garbage bins and folders. You don’t need 3D glasses to go into a virtual world and 'hack the Gibson’. Simply login and have fun.
This game is all about simplicity while offering quite a bit of depth as far as game play goes. Also the story isn’t half bad for a game like this! I was quite shocked to see how the story evolved quite well and easily.
Graphically speaking in terms of today’s standards this game would get a 1. But it isn’t fair to judge a game like this against games like Doom3 and HL2. As the saying goes, 'comparing apples to oranges,’ fits this perfectly.
Each panel has its own function, and you will use every single one of them. One displays the map, which shows you all the computers you can connect to. The other shows you the status of your transfers and hacks and traces. The next one is your email panel, you must pay attention to this one to see incoming mail and find hosts to hack, as well as mission updates. The bottom two panels are your console, where you type everything, and the status of your computer. You can upgrade your computer with lots of stuff to aid you in your missions, only problem is money.
When you being hacking stuff a lot of things happen. The first is the trace, you can see this visually on the map and numerically in the top middle panel. If your tools aren’t up to date then you must pay attention to this as you do not want your time to run out and get caught. This is probably the most important aspect of the game.
Not much here, music and clicking noises easily sum it up. The music tracks play in the background and instantly set the mood. The techno style tracks give you the feel that you are doing something that you shouldn’t do in real life. They do repeat but since they are quite unique it doesn’t become much of a bother.
There are just a few sound effects, the most notable being the typing one. Whenever you type a simple 'TAK’ is emited, nothing major. There are a few bleeps here and there as the tracing timer counts down. There are no voices, which is a good thing.
Simplistic audio makes for a great game. I really wouldn’t change a thing, besides adding more tracks. Other than that it is excellent the way it is now.
The game play of both games is much like Uplink, if you played it. Basically you have to hack into a bunch of different systems and either destroy files, transfer money to your account, or steal files. This sums it up as basic as possible. Don’t let the simple explanation make you think the game is that basic and shallow.
The story behind the Digital Hazard game is some guy contacts you about some corporation having too much money and developing some technology that can take over the world. You have to hack into these ESK machines and try to figure out what this technology is, and what ESK is. It may sound uninteresting but it is very fun and very intriguing, as I said with the graphics you have to play it to get the full experience.
The story behind BS Hacker Replay is that the Internet is now a commercial zone, nothing is free. The hackers set up a post on an underground network using the old infrastructure and wired networks. The point is get back control of the Internet and make it free to the public once again. The story fits the game very well since it’s all about hacking and deceiving those who want to control it. You must steal blueprints of the new infrastructure and give them to the hacker community. This, however, isn’t the only mission, as you play along you get more and more missions to do this and that. These missions will kill you busy for quite some time.
When you start off you have a set budget. You have several opportunities to hack ATMs for money. The ATM has a limited amount of money in it, while you probably can’t transfer it all in 1 go without bouncing around different boxes, you can transfer small amounts and reconnect.
With the money you can upgrade your hardware. These upgrades can allow you to crack longer passwords and do shorter ones a lot faster. Without them you can not crack long passwords, if you try you will be caught if you don’t abort. You can also upgrade your connection speed for uploading and downloading files as well as to speed up money transfers.
When you get further along in the game some hosts can trace you faster than you can do your needed operations. This is when bouncing comes into play. It’s like connecting to one machine, then having that machine connect to another, etc. This slows down the tracing tremendously and allows you plenty of time to get your business done. Bouncing in the game is simply clicking on the hosts you wish to go through, some work some don’t. The game does the connection automatically; the only thing that’s different is the tracing time.
Each level has set objectives and you have to complete those before continuing to the next. Before each mission you get a small briefing of what to expect. If a mission states that you have to have $2000 dollars in your account, you have to have that amount at the end of the mission to win. I mean if you have $2000 and then spend it, that objective doesn’t count. This becomes a problem when you have an objective to complete and little money.
As time progresses your funding drops by 10’s. If it hits 0 the game is over. This only happens when you spend all of your money and don’t pay attention, as it has happened to me a few times.
The missions for the most part are easy, some can get complicated as it takes a bit of thinking to find the server that you need to get in to. Each mission gets harder and more complex. More and more exploits and hacker tools are needed complete the objectives and missions. Hitting F3 is the absolute best thing in the game as it shows you your objectives.
Overall I was very impressed with these games. They are very simple on the outside but offer quite a bit to keep most gamers happy for a while. Not to mention there are a lot of possibilities since you can MOD the game. A whole community can spark with modding this game if it becomes popular enough.
I definitely had a blast playing this game, there is room for improvement, but the overall package was on spot and I still haven’t beaten it yet. I can’t wait for some mods to come out to keep me going back for more! I’d like to thank the guys at exoSyphen for giving me a copy to review, too kind gents, too kind.