Hacker Evolution Duality Review
When I found Hacker Evolution Duality on my desk(top) my first thought was, “Modern Uplink?”. Uplink is a Video Game where you start as a member of the Uplink corporation. Imagine a company that acts as a hub for people in need of hackers. You are an aspiring hacker and you begin with a Windows 95 Computer (well, not really, but it is crappy), a bit of cash and a whole world to “rob”. Before you reach the top you will be at the bottom. And by bottom I mean some dirty mud pit, with just two forks to climb your way out of there. Uplink is a fun game, a challenging game. It takes a lot of thought and preparation. You have to connect to a target server through different other servers, get past passwords, firewalls and proxies, gather, delete or change some data then get out. Depending on who you ended up facing you might have to delete any traces of your presence. What is so fun about Uplink? It feels like you are part of this strange corporation.
Everything in Uplink feels like you are not technically playing a game. You have a Hud that you use to check your messages, connect to servers, check the time, check your bank account, and more. It gets better. You can speak with other PLAYERS through an IRC client you can buy in-game. This game has immersion written all over it. It is still fun and enjoyable, but somewhat “dead” (the game was released in 2001, not that many people on IRC anymore ). Uplink deserves to be remembered as one of the best “Hacker” games that ever existed, if not the best one.
You noticed how I did not mention Hacker Evolution Duality yet? There is a simple reason for that, it is not that good. Despite its name the hacking you do in it is purely symbolical. Allow me to elaborate however. At the start of a game (depending on the game mode you choose) there are different servers and “AIs” that you may connect to or through. When you connect to them you can download or upload files, transfer funds from or to your account, etc. Depending on your task you will have to develop a slightly different strategy each time, but in the end it boils down to the same thing. Use D.O.S. and EMP attacks, hack firewall, do some more “hacking”, do what you came to do. Mission accomplished. There are some “mini games”, when you do a DOS or EMP attack for example, but in the case of DOS you move sliders, and in the case of the EMP you wait for a circle to turn, until it faces an arrow, then click it. It’s like a Quick Time Event, with the Quick taken out.
Hacker Evolution Duality is not a “serious” game. I mean, using an EMP Satellite to take out your enemy? Wouldn’t that shut down a whole city? That is not the issue however, the issue is that the game is either too hard or too easy at times. In Uplink you had a steady difficulty curve, where you had the time to obtain new software and hardware to better perform in your tasks, or be able to complete them at all. In Hacker Evolution Duality you can only spend your money on Hardware upgrades, but they seem trivial at best. You have your Firewall, CPU and Integrity. Your Integrity is your “HP”, if it goes down to 0, you lose. Your CPU lets you hack into Servers/AIs that have a Firewall level equal or less than your CPU. Your Firewall should technically stop the enemy from hacking into your computer. I say technically because it is more likely that you will lose the game due to losing your Integrity than losing your funds. During Singleplayer games the AI will also keep targeting you, and even when you know how long it will take for an enemy attack to come you have no way of stopping it (unless you destroy the AI). The attack comes for certain. It does not take much for your to lose. Each point of Integrity costs 5,000 USD to upgrade (or get back). The enemy has a D.O.S. attack that takes away one point of Integrity, or the EMP which takes away two. Even if you had 10 points of Integrity at the start it would take maybe ten minutes for you to lose (exaggeration, but it feels that way). So yes, you have to act fast, and that offers an interesting challenge, but I did not find it fun.
I have to say that some of the mission ideas were fun, as are the special game modes. The “Deathmatch” mode puts you against AI opponents, and it’s a Last Man Standing type of deal, a bit like Defcon, since everybody starts with the same gear and funds. Then there is the Bank Robbery Mode where a number of Hackers try to rob a bank, then “kill” off each other. Those are interesting ideas, but due to the limitations of the game itself just not that fun. Perhaps I did not like the game because I did not find it “Fun” but that is one of my measures when I play a game, do I find it fun. The Guild 2 was buggy yet I loved it, I can forgive hackers in Planetside 2, because the game does have something to it. With Hacker Evolution Duality I do not have that. For the most part the game works fine, it is almost bug-less, but that is due to its simple design. Even then I encountered a bug, I suppose, where during the bank robbery mode another hacker stole all the cash and spent it lavishly on upgrades. I still managed to get it back from him and beef myself out, but then I realised the cash that was left was below the winning objective. Thinking I could get a minor victory I proceeded to eliminate my opponents until the map was empty. The AI seemed to have given up entirely, as they did not fight back at all. The game did not end. Despite its simple design it still has some problems.
I see potential however. A light mix of “Uplink” and Defcon, where you would face other players or the AI, in teams or alone, for the sake of completing an objective, or just defeating each other. For now you only have a singleplayer mode, with an AI that is meant to be complex but feels very predictable. The worst part is the cost. Hacker Evolution Duality is priced at 19.99 Euros. Uplink, a game that I feel would last far longer, and give some continuity (not just “single missions) costs 9.99 Euros. As far as hacker games go, buy Uplink. It might be ancient by Video Game Standards but I guarantee to you, if you are after a challenging and fun game Uplink will provide.
Alex “WriterX” Bielski