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Hacker Evolution Duality & Inception (PC) Review

 
Hacker Evolution Duality image
Hacker Evolution Duality image
Hacker Evolution Duality image

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
7.0
7/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


Strong addition to a starved genre
Challenging gameplay
Fun hacking mechanics

Not so much?


Learning curve too steep
Unforgiving AI opponents
Graphics and score too clean


Final Fiendish Findings?

In an age where gamers repeatedly complain about games being too easy, it’s difficult to berate such a title for having a tough and unforgiving time bounded restraints, as well as a lack of care and consideration to genre newbies. Hacker Evolution Duality cobbles together an interesting selection of hacking tools to put at your disposal, but a clinical approach to gameplay and graphics counteracts the fun you’ll have in the hacking landscape.

1
Posted November 4, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Hacker Evolution Duality throws you into the seedy shadowy world of cyber espionage and crime as you HACK THE PLANET… <ahem> excuse me. As you take on big multi-national corporations and enemy AI servers in a bid to achieve the tasks doled out to you by your mysterious employers.

The hacker sim genre isn’t crowded with titles and is often completely overlooked by gamers, so it’s always good to see new titles entering the fold. But Hacker Evolution Duality throws such a ridiculous learning curve into the fray that anyone looking for an entertaining introduction to the genre may want to consider a RTFM approach to this title. The manual itself helpfully gives you step by step instructions for completing the first two levels, and delves slightly deeper into the game mechanics than the tutorial levels do. In some respects it’s quite nice to encounter a game that has a real challenge to it and doesn’t take your hand and gently lead you through the levels until it’s absolutely sure you can manage on your own. But again for those looking to dip their toes into the hacker sim genre, you may want to consider Uplink as an alternative starting point.

Hacker Evolution Duality image

The game has you performing a variety of typical hacker objectives such as downloading files, transferring money or switching off local CCTV cameras. You start by having to hack into a system through a variety of means; DOS and EMP attacks can help weaken a servers defences before you break through the firewall or try and falsify voice or retina recognition security protocols. Once you have control over a server, you can then create bounded links to improve your CPU strength which in turn allows you to hack into more powerful servers. As well as a focused single player campaign there are “open world” scenarios to play through which involve a pitched battle against multiple AI servers who are all after the same objective.

All of this makes for an entertaining game that is fun to play. But sadly that fun is sucked out by some pretty significant balancing issues. Levels that must be completed within a deadline are compounded by enemy servers that will constantly bombard you with attacks the moment they become hostile. After your sever has suffered enough damage it will disappear off the map and you’re back to the very beginning of the level again.

I found these two factors to be so constraining that it was very difficult to think strategically about what I was going to do next, or what I was supposed to be doing even. The pressures applied to you during the levels mean that you can spend nearly 20 minutes of gameplay trying one avenue of attack before being beaten and then spending another 20 minutes experimenting with a different type of strategy. It generates a level of real-time confusion and chaos that perfectly captures the immediacy of real life cyber crime, but unfortunately makes the game very unforgiving and quite frustrating.

Hacker Evolution Duality image

The controls are slick and responsive if a little buggy at times, generally there is a good flow to the controls and again, reading the manual will greatly aid the speed in which you are able to carry out your list of attacks and commands. Performing these commands requires more speed than skill however. In the case of the DOS and voice recognition attacks, you simply have to set the slider bars to the matching values on screen. The game will helpfully lock these in place once you have set the correct value, so you are spared the painful task of tweaking your mouse movements down to a fine degree.

Speaking of commands there is a very nice console feature that gives you the ability to run some basic Linux commands. But this feature is sadly deprecated in the main game and is instead the prime focus on the game’s DLC: Inception, which is simply a port of the missions from the original Hacker Evolution game. Given the difficulty that I experienced playing through Hacker Evolution Duality, you’d think it odd that I’d complain about not having an array of Linux commands to deal with. But the lack of console commands as a gameplay feature means that the game feels slightly less realistic and immersive as a result.

Hacker Evolution Duality image

I found the graphics strangely counter-productive to the overall feel of the game however. The original Hacker Evolution title featured a mottled tan colour overlay that I felt worked quite well in creating the vibe and feel of a low-fidelity hacking system. Similarly Introversion Software’s Uplink has a bright blue overly that also suits the tone and mood of the hacking gameplay as a concept. Hacker Evolution Duality is bright, crisp, clean and delivers an advanced and modern overlay through which to conduct your activities. It’s good in that the palette never becomes tiring to look at, but at the same time it is incredibly flat and lacking in atmosphere or style. This is partly rectified in the Inception DLC which adds a fuzzy orange-brown tone to the background world map. But the clean UI modules persist.

The music is somewhat over enthusiastic, providing buzzing electronic riffs that feel as though they’ve just been wrenched from a late 90s action game on the PS1. Much like the graphics, the score is too clean and clinical despite their best efforts. That said it’s well within your power to dial the volume down and select some more choice tracks from your own collection whilst you hack (which is exactly what I did, Lorn and Starkey work particularly well with this title).

In an age where gamers repeatedly complain about games being too easy, it’s difficult to berate such a title for having a tough and unforgiving time bounded restraints, as well as a lack of care and consideration to genre newbies. Hacker Evolution Duality cobbles together an interesting selection of hacking tools to put at your disposal, but a clinical approach to gameplay and graphics counteracts the fun you’ll have in the hacking landscape.


Adam

 
Playing games since I'd developed enough motor functions to hold a joystick. From Commodore 64 all the way through to the latest gen. Favourite games to play are FPS games and anything with a deep and compelling story and a world that draws you in. I also enjoy writing, film making and playing bass in whatever band will have me :)


  • http://www.facebook.com/fir.daus.142892 Fir Daus

    Plz gimme a key .. im dying .. lol ..