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In the world of Hacker Evolution, a super intelligent computer network known as Xenti has began to take responsibility for many of the world's major functions. As many fans of movies series such as The Terminator will already know, doing this is by no means a good thing to do. So, right on cue, Xenti becomes sentient and duly wreaks havoc on the world, crashing the New York Stock Exchange and essentially bringing the world to a stand still.
In Hacker Evolution, players take the role of Brian Spencer, retired computer programmer and hacking expert. Enlisted by the FSA to root out the source of huge problems across the world's computer systems, Brian must do all manner of hacking, cracking and stealing to combat and and solve the problem facing the world's communication networks.
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The gameplay in Hacker Evolution features a rather steep learning curve, and new players will find themselves struggling to understand what's going on if they do not have any previous console experience. Deduction and problem solving skills are a must, as most missions give the player a list of things to do, without an explanation of how to go about doing it.
That being said, after an hour or so of playing, players will begin to get in to the routine of typing commands, scouring files for clues and hints and stealing the money necessary to keep themselves safe.
One of the most surprising things I found when playing Hacker Evolution was just how much tension the game manages to cram in. I spent quite some time looking anxiously between the time left to crack a computer and the time left before my connection would be traced.
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Since all the player is able to do in Hacker Evolution is type commands on a console, I thought I'd examine how the console works for this section.
Essentially the game bisects the distance between real life hacking, where hackers write their own exploits to take down systems, and an oversimplified system that would require a player to do nothing. Hacker Evolution's commands and principles are all more or less representative of what a real life hacker would do, but without the tedious parts.
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A console-based game generally has no real graphics. Hacker Evolution PC does a surprisingly good job of making its consoles sleek, attractive and usable. There are no jagged edges and everything is fairly well designed, adorned with a soft yellow color. There are four dialog boxes, containing a world map, a console, the player's status and messages from various persons and authority. These different dialog boxes can be moved around to suit the player's liking.
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While players are partaking an action such as hacking or decrypting a server, simple electronic ticking can be heard in the background. This adds to the dramatic tension, especially when the player comes close to getting traced by the server they are hacking. A female voice announces whether something new happens, whether it be the completion of a crack, new messages being received in the console or a trace being placed on the player.
Then there's the soundtrack. Simply electronic beats will fill the ears of the player as they battle it out in the cyber world. The music is by no means big budget, but it all adds up to exactly what the doctor ordered, and the tempo of the music once again adds to the tension during close parts of the game.
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Hacker Evolution has it where it counts. Fast, balanced game play will keep the player one the edge of their seat, with plenty of twists and turns around the corner in a minimalist plot. The game's soundtrack presents easy listening but with a tempo that perfectly complements the game's anxious nature. A brilliant play.
Hacker Evolution is available online from exosyphen studios, or from Steam.