For some strange reason, every time I mention this game the whole office dances around, waving chickens in the air, singing, "Hack-errr two, two, two, push pineapple, Shake the tree..."
They're a facetious lot, given to such levity, while I'm engrossed by weightier matters. I have to save the free world from those devilish Ruskies. Yes, Uncle Sam is calling and even their noisy little joke can't drown out his cry for help.
Down to business with the instructions. There's a small book to read before you can start. Deep in an installation in Siberia, Ivan has a notebook that could spell doom for the West. Probably why it's called the Doomsday Papers, really!
The idea is to infiltrate this secret base, which isn't that secret as the CIA has an agent waiting outside the gates, and get your mitts on the little red book. But as you're a top computer security expert, and therefore a bit of a weed, you're not expected to storm the place, SAS-style.
Instead you can do your spying from home, using a Multi-Function Switching Matrix - that could take a little time to install, so here's one the secret service prepared for you earlier! It's a sort of multi-purpose terminal gizmo, which lets you use the base's security cameras for your own ends.
As well as choosing the view on the four screens of this voyeur's delight, you can tap into the automatic cameras themselves, to get an idea of what the KGB is watching. Furthermore, the MFSM contains a radar map, which tells you where you are. But the device's most important function is to let you control one of three Mobile Remote Units, in your search for the safe containing the papers.
Despite the lengthy MFSM manual, you're left on your own as to how to tackle your task - much the same as the original Hacker. The first thing is obviously to make full use of its visual facilities. How you configure the screen is up to you - though it'll probably go something like this.
On one you'll have the radar, which centres on the MRU in operation, and indicates the movements of the human guards and the security cameras that are in operation. You'll need this information for the game of cat and mouse.
You'll also need a map of the base, but this'll have to indicate more than where the rooms and corridors are. If you know which camera covers which area you can be prepared for them, so you'll avoid alerting the guards.
I didn't mention the video recorder facility before, but you can use it for more than catching last night's episode of EastEnders. As well as allowing you to check all movements in an area during the last hour, you can play back a picture of an empty room to the security cameras, even while your MRU is investigating a filing cabinet!
All the pictures are time synchronised, so if you fail to use the Fast Forward and Reverse to match up the video with the reality, the commissars will have no question about whether it was real or Memorex! They'll liquidate your droid, which could bring tears to your eyes!
Hacker II has been well thought out. Despite the fact that it was originally intended for far more complex computers, the Spectrum conversion works very well. I wouldn't like to spoil your enjoyment, but do try to get the death of an MRU on camera - it's great fun.
So while the speed freaks won't find much to satisfy them here, more methodical players should have a ball. For my money, this is even better than the original Hacker!
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