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 multipurpose terminal gizmo, which lets you use the bases 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. Futhermore 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!
Here's what's happening. Use at least one screen to keep an eye on the action in your surroundings. Of course, matching the camera to the corridor may not be easy - and what's on the channel that gives nothing but static?
The two security monitors switch from camera o camera till they catch you. Clue - each one covers different areas, so find out which is used where if you want to use the VTR.The radar show active cameras, walking guards and your MRU. You move this by turning ninety degrees, then advancing by pressing forwards or backwards.The controls are quite easy to master. Plus and minus symbols are used to change channels, whole Select moves on to the next screen. And naturally there's a control to beat the curse of all monitors, a rolling picture caused by inaccurate vertical hold!Running a video may provide clues to the security system, and there are forward and reverse [preview facilities. But most important is the cloaking technique which replaces the lives signal.