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PWN: Combat Hacking

Firewall Fighters

PWN: Combat Hacking re-envisions network infiltration as a frantic hardcore deathmatch. We’re gonna need more RAM.

By Joe Keiser • April 16, 2013

One of the first great disappointments in a computer person’s life is the realization that hacking is actually awfully boring. In our world, “hacking” is mostly asking people for their “porn name” so you can answer a security question about their dead dog. Where is the future that William Gibson promised us, the one where hackers are geniuses who autocrypt the superuser traceroute with their black market, high-gigafloxel CPRs? Why can’t we live there?

Fortunately, that vision is alive in PWN: Combat Hacking. Here, hacking a node is as simple as touching a cube with your finger and waiting for a few seconds. The challenge comes in the form of an opposing uber-hacker who is trying to take over the same network. Knocking your rival off the grid requires not only fast system captures but also cunning use of your l33t hacking skills. That means attacking with tools like viruses, which spread to capture multiple nodes simultaneously, while defending yourself with moves like the “electricity spike,” which shuts down some nodes and prevents possible flanking assaults.

These hack-fights are intense, fast-paced affairs, and a single canny move can change the complexion of the game in an instant. When your artificial opponent turns the tables on you, it can feel like cheating. But when you come from behind to suddenly take a battle, it feels incredible, like a cathode-tanned technomancer from ancient 1980s lore. Cyberpunk’s not dead. Now, what was your mother’s maiden name again?

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4 Responses to “Firewall Fighters”

  1. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    *sigh* Another cheap/free game that requires a $500 device to play.

    I like hacking minigames.  System Shock 2’s hacking was great, and…hmm, what was the last game I played that had a good one?  Oh yeah, Deus Ex:HR had a pretty entertaining one.  (Sleeping Dogs did too, but that was just Mastermind with numbers, so doesn’t really count IMHO.)

    • Xtracurlyfries says:

      Sooner or later there’ll be enough cheap or free games that you’ll actually be saving money by buying the $500 device. That’s how I justified it to myself, anyway.

      Alternatively, I hear there are places online where you can get a free iPad. So maybe, y’know, look into that.

    • WorldCivilizations says:

      I can add Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3 to your list of hacking minigames. IMO both of them are a pain in the ass, especially ME:2 because both of its hacking games are totally trivial. Nothing can top Oblivion for botched minigames though. By mastering the games, you could pick master locks with 0 lockpicking skill with ease, and consistently increase anyone’s dispositions with the speech minigame, again with 0 skill in speech. Deus Ex:HR is a good, rare example of combining minigames with RPG mechanics and succeeding.

    • PaganPoet says:

      How about the hacking minigames in the Sly Cooper series? Who new hacking computers was just like playing Stardust?