Activision Inc
Steve Cartwright
1987
Adventure: Graphic
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

128
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

It's fourteen months since Hacker first graced the Spectrum screen. Heralded at the time as a demanding and highly original game, it now has a follow up in the form of Hacker II. Once again it's been designed and written by Steve Cartwright, but this time on a much grander scale.

Your reputation as a computer boffin has prompted the United States government to seek your help on a top secret mission. The CIA have discovered a plot by the Soviets which could upset the balance of power between the East and the West forever. The details of their plan are contained in what have become known as the 'Doomsday Papers'. These are held inside a high security Siberian base. It is your task, with the help of three Mobile Remote Units (MRUs - similar to those used in Hacker), to explore the base and steal the plans before the Russians can use them.

The complex security system which the Soviets have installed must be hoodwinked. For this purpose you control a device which can monitor their four thirty-eight channel security cameras. Videotaping facilities are available so that recordings can be made and substituted for the original security film. Using this method it is possible to create extra time to manoeuvre, without being spotted by the security guards. Other features on this device include frame pause, and a vital preview function for editing purposes.

It's also possible to use one of the four monitor screens to display the area immediately around the MRU. Using this display it is possible to map the complex, which aids exploration. The display reveals the whereabouts of security officers and active monitors in the area.

The screen controls are situated on a panel at the bottom of the display. They are activated by moving an arrow over the desired option (using joystick or keyboard), then pressing fire or the M key. The selected option is then highlighted. The animated graphics are grey on black (with touches of red and blue), and give the impression of monochrome monitors.

One particularly nasty Russian weapon is the annihilator. A kind of anti-robot robot, it hunts down and kills MRUs. This must be avoided, as your limited supply of MRUs is all that stands between the free world and disaster.

CRITICISM

'Aggggghh - they said that I'd be safe from games like this. Well it looks as though this has got through the guards (it sneaked through by hiding behind its arcade sequences). Joking aside, this is definitely a better game than its predecessor as it contains more 'in depth' plot. Unfortunately the game is not at all easy to get Into so it didn't really appeal to me. The graphics and sound are not at all bad: the screen is well laid out and there are some nice effects. However, I'd only recommend it if you were a Hacker fan.' BEN

'I really loved Hacker, so I was really looking forward to the sequel, and what an excellent job ACTIVISION have done with it. The video machine is something you have to see - the amount of detail that has gone into it is amazing - but it's a pity they used the VHS model as the vertical hold often needs adjusting! Everything has to be very cleverly worked out, such as putting the video on the monitors to fool the security guards. It's obvious that lots of thought has gone into Hacker II and it was worth it, Ws a thoroughly enjoyable and addictive game.' PAUL

'Despite the excellent polished exterior, I found Hacker II to be a little lacking in the gameplay stakes. The graphics are very good, and it's lots of fun getting used to (and playing with) the video recorder. It's a vast improvement on its predecessor, but something's still not quite right. The content isn't actually lacking as there is plenty to do, but after a while spent playing it I found I got a bit bored. Colour has been used excellently, and generally I find it hard to criticise any one thing in the program, but it does lack some vital element that could have made it into a smash hit.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q up, A down, O left, P right, M push button
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: basic but effective
Graphics: simple effective graphics which add to the atmosphere
Sound: atmospheric spot effects that give a creepy and realistic effect
Skill levels: one
Screens: one
General Rating: A worthy sequel.

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Screenshot Text

Camera Two shows the MRU strolling down one of the corridors in the complex.

Things are getting hectic: the fearsome Annihilator walks past Camera Two - time to make a strategic withdrawal?