Hacker II starts just like Hacker. You are presented
with a blank screen headed:
* H2-PLUS VERSION 1.0 *
Never fear, it is even easier than Hacker to get
logged on. In fact whatever you do you will be logged on and then
interrupted by a message from the Director of Special Agents in the
CIA, asking for your help to combat international terrorism by
obtaining a copy of the 'Doomsday Paper' from a Siberian Military
Fortunately you don't need to travel to Siberia
yourself – they have managed to infiltrate the complex with three
MRUs (Mobile Remote Units –remote control robots really) which you
can use from the comfort of your own home computer.
After a couple of screens of introductory information
you are presented with the display you will use for the rest of the
game. This consists of four small screens arranged in a square and
taking up most of the screen, and a control panel at the bottom.
Apart from a few keyboard inputs at particular places in the game
all interaction is performed by pressing the buttons on the control
panel. For this purpose they provide a small hand at the bottom of
the screen which can be controlled by whichever input device you
prefer – keyboard, mouse, joystick depending on your machine and
The four screens can be used to display a number of
different views. You can look at the current view from any of the 38
cameras placed at strategic points in the corridors and rooms of the
military complex. You can look at what either of the monitors is
showing as they scan through all the camera views. You can look at a
video recording of what any of the cameras recorded yesterday. Or
you can get a bird's eye view of your MRU and the surrounding rooms
The game takes place in real time. As the seconds
tick away on the various on-screen clocks you can see the guard
making his rounds, the monitor activating the cameras, your MRU as
it passes in front of a camera, and the destruction of your MRU as
it is turned into scrap metal by the Annihilator!
Your MRUs start in a safe room. You can take control
of one and move it out to explore, but there are lots of ways of
triggering alarms – the result is always the same – the Annihilator!
Once you have worked out where you are and how to control all your
systems be sure and get the annihilation scene up on one of your
screens so you can view your demise.
The game has a number of stages. First you must
master all the controls. The introductory screens give you a little
help, the 32 page manual (Multi-Function Switching Matrix Operator's
Manual Volume 1) will also help a little, but mainly you have to
find out for yourself! Second you need to learn how to survive
outside your initial safe room, avoiding the guard, the monitors and
the annihilator. Third you need to map the complex. Once you have
done all that, you can get down to the serious business of trying to
solve the game!
Solving the game basically requires working out how
to open the vault undetected. There are codes to crack and traps to
avoid, and you are not helped by the fact that your equipment is
faulty and breaks down bit by bit so that you end up having to drive
your droid in the dark! You will need to understand ALL the controls
on your Multi-Function Switching Matrix, study the introductory
screens in detail, and work out how to manage with only four
displays – to start with four seems more than enough but you'll soon
wish you had more. Even when you think you have finished there is a
sting in the tail which will keep you busy for another hour or two.
My only slight quibble would be with the price. I
usually reckon I am getting my money's worth if it works out a a
pound an hour or less. Maybe I was lucky in working it all out, but
Hacker II cost me well over two pounds an hour. However I thoroughly
enjoyed Hacker II and have no hesitation in recommending it to all
thinking games players. One of its best aspects is its sheer
originality. It is so refreshing to find a game which can't easily
be fitted into any existing genre.