Sawbuck Gamer

868-HACK

Baud Bandits

Hacking is a lo-fi life-or-death struggle in 868-HACK.

By Joe Keiser • September 27, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

As we’ve covered in the past, there are no games about real hacking. This is probably because real hacking amounts to convincing an underpaid phone representative that you’ve somehow forgotten your address or guessing a password a million times in a row. The concept always needs some tarting up before it gets put under the spotlight.

868-HACK does this by framing the hack job as a thriller, and by being barely about hacking at all. Here, you are already in the system; all that’s left is to siphon up as much data as you can, hit a new high score, and get out of Dodge. Gathering expendable money and energy is easy, and leaves the server a relatively benign place. But start acquiring life-saving ability upgrades and invaluable points, and all manner of bugs and security will blink into existence to put you down. This is a game made up of little reactions to the player—enemies won’t even move unless you do—which means that when you fail, there is no one to blame but yourself.

And failure is inevitable. But because that failure is yours, and because games of 868-HACK are so fast, it’s easy to return over and over to improve your performance. Sure, last time I attempted to get nine points and the ability to blow up all the enemies of a single type at the push of a button, which summoned enough security to surround me twice. That was too much, but maybe squeaking into a corner and downloading seven points will be survivable this time? It won’t be. But I’ll live a little longer and get a few more points. And then it’s back to the top. Maybe you can’t escape after all.

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13 Responses to “Baud Bandits”

  1. GaryX says:

    Steam Controller:

    Thoughts?

    • Boonehams says:

      At first glance, not good.  With that controller, I can only conceivably see playing FPS and some racing games.  Platformers?  No way.  Fighting games? Hell no.  Action titles like God of War or Devil May Cry?  Not even an option.  RTS?  Only if they’re severely dumbed down and have a lot of customizable control options.

      Frankly, I don’t really like it.

      • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

        I’m reserving judgment until I’ve physically held it in my hands, or at least read what the experience is like.

        They made a big enough deal out of the haptic feedback technology that I’m encouraged they’re aware of all the issues up front.  

        I agree with you on RTS games and fighting games.  The former requires too much quick movement and micromanagement to work on any controller, and the latter requires mostly a great directional pad and the classic four button layout.

        As for action titles, I don’t see how you’re so certain.  Those are obviously extremely playable on standard analog controllers, and you have no reason to think that the pads will be that bad.

        • Boonehams says:

          It’s not the track pads I’m worried about when it comes to action games; it’s the button layout.  How can anyone hit the Y or X-button while holding a direction at the same time?  You would need an additional thumb growing out of your left hand thumb to get anywhere.  I guess you could assign buttons to the touch pad in the center, but when it’s an action title that requires precise button presses, I don’t think a touchpad will get the job done.

          I honestly can’t see myself ever using this controller for the games I would want to play. I would most likely just use my PS3 controller instead, assuming it lets me.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @Boonehams:disqus Aren’t the pads themselves clickable? And there’s buttons on the back, too.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        Bleh.  I see some potential in SteamOS and Steam Machines, but that controller is like reinventing the wheel by putting corners on it.  A touchpad basically does the job of a mouse, while mouse tasks are generally appointed to the thumbsticks on a controller; ergo, replacing sticks with touchpads might make sense.  Ditching the face buttons in favor of a touchscreen is asinine.  Basically, what they’ve made here is Smartglass’s non-union Mexican equivalent.  Yes, Valve, I just compared your new toy to the Xbone.

    • mizerock says:

      I can hook up a PS3 controller to an iPad now, right? That really should be not only possible, but ideally one of the basic defaults of a Steam Box.

    • skellatour says:

      The Gameological logo fits right into it. 

      Twice.

    • stepped_pyramids says:

      Looks good to me, although I have weird stiff thumbs that tend to even have trouble with joysticks. I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to use the touchpads with my thumbs, but if the movement required is subtle it might work well.

      I really like the clickable touchscreen. Ultimately it’s going to rely heavily on whether games are designed to accommodate it.

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM says:

      I wish Valve would go back to making video games, it’s been over two years since their last significant release (Portal 2)

      while I applaud Valve for trying to elevate PC gaming and make it more mainstream, they’re focusing too much on hardware and not enough on software, how about drawing more people into PC gaming by releasing an EXCLUSIVE new Half Life? (for the time being anyway)

      Valve is my favorite video game company ever and I just worry about their future

  2. stepped_pyramids says:

    People who are interested in hacking games might want to look at Decker, a (very) indie game based on Shadowrun’s hacking rules:

    http://www10.caro.net/dsi/decker/

    There’s a good LP of it here:

    http://lparchive.org/Decker/

    One-man labors of love like this (although not this, I just learned about it this year) make up a substantial portion of my childhood gameplaying experience. Castle Of The Winds, SkiFree, the Exile series, that kind of thing.

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