July 11, 2011
Game Review By: Mr. Roboto
Developed by: Banjo Software
Platforms: Doom II and ports thereof
Versions Reviewed: 1.2, 2.0 r55
Official Site: Dr. Nostromo’s HacX Twitch ‘n’ Kill
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High
Overview: Released over a year after Quake, HacX (pronounced “hacks”) was pretty much Doomed from the start… along with every other Doom-like game. Banjo Software spent $5K US for a license to market HacX as a Doom II TC, but it was rushed to market in the wake of the technically advanced Quake… and failed faster than you can say “nailgun.” There was supposed to be a 3D version called HacX 2, but rapid advances in gaming engines, and other forms of interference, kept that project on hold.
With retro-gaming popular these days the original HacX has since been released as freeware. Additionally, version 1.2 is available that no longer needs Doom II to run, just a supported source port like ZDoom. Plus, a version 2 is being worked on with improved graphics and better level design. Hopefully, the end result will be what HacX should have been when it was first released. While no Quake/Unreal/Halo/Whatever killer, HacX looks like it had the potential to hold its own against the more advanced shooters. At least, it could be on par with Marathon.
The Story: From the official site:
Whole cities lie in ruins. Entire countries laid waste. Over 5 billion people dead, used for food, or for genetic mutation experiments. Situation: Hopeless.
Get over it!! You’ve got work to do.
The Story of Danny Evanger, Written by Holt Satterfield
Okay. So you’re going along, minding your own business, which just happens to be hacking into other people’s databases, when your latest hack, some hi-tech company, catches you on-line and sends over some government jerk to arrest you. Mother said there’d be days like this. You broke a few national and international laws. So what’s the big deal?! Hacking is what hackers do! But seems like you hacked into the wrong database this time. Ultra-secret and all that. Genemp Corporation. Some biotech something or other. Database called itself GENIE. Something peculiar in that. Awfully sophisticated database. Especially if it caught you in the middle of hacking, and you’re the best, it’s eerily sophisticated. Like it can actually think, or something.
So they send you packing… to the federal pen. For the rest of your natural life. No computer, no gear, nothing. Total drag. Cement and bars, and the other guys inside aren’t exactly your average beefcakes. They catch a glance at your cyber-jockey derrière and get a wet gleam in their eye. So what you do for the next twelve months is hit the weight room–hard and fast! You pump iron like your life depended on it–and it does. You learn to sleep with one eye open. Punching the heavy bag becomes your breakfast; tae-kwon-do your lunch, and for dinner… well, you gotta eat sometime. And practice? Plenty. ‘Cause these boys got a gleam in their eyes that won’t go away. But how you’ve changed! Over once scarecrow arms, muscles wrap tight and heavy, and you’ve got a fu-kick that makes the boys call you “Sir”. Before you were just an average pencil-necked geek, now you could grace the front of Muscle and Guns Magazine. And just in time, too.
Because one day you return to your cell to find a tight-lipped, little man in a black suit with a bad haircut. Won’t give his name, but says he’s a Government Agent with the Subcommittee. Which subcommittee? The Subcommittee. The guy’s a regular riot; just one clown shy of a circus. But you listen, ’cause heck, you’ve got all the time in the world.
And so he tells a tale…. of world-wide communication blackouts, computer network shutdowns at governmental and military installations, international stock market crashes, and what might seem unbelievable…. armies of cannibal zombies roaming the globe, laying waste to everything in their path! Nothing fancy, just your everyday global chaos. The President has declared martial law, but they’ve lost contact with parts of the armed forces, and some of these rogue military units are assaulting urban centers. The country is being decimated!
And you thought you had it rough! So, why tell you? Because you’re the best Hacker in the business. And they think they know who’s behind this weirdness–a consortium of powerful, international hi-tech conglomerates, but they can’t get close enough to be certain. So far every government agent they’ve sent in has yet to return. They need you to infiltrate these corporate databases and find out what’s going on.
This looks like a clue.
What’s more, they want to surgically install a military-grade Genemp Microtel into your frontal cerebral lobe. A what, where? A new, experimental cyber device that allows you to cyberleap from one terminal to another using cyberspace as if it were a taxicab.
So what’s in it for you? You get to keep the Microtel and have lunch with the President. You laugh, ’cause you’ve heard better offers from the guys with the gleam in their eyes. Oh, he adds, there’s $20 million in gold. Suddenly you feel patriotic. Ah, why not?
There’s only one hitch to getting the gold, the Agent says. What? You gotta stay alive.
Pick your poison. Currently, there are three versions of HacX currently available online. Version 1.1, the original retail version, can be found most any-warez (pun intended) and requires Doom II, at least the WAD file, to work. Version 1.2 is a complete IWAD, meaning the only thing required to play is an appropriate port of Doom II. A version 2 RC 55 is available from the HacX developer’s forums, but I should warn you that it is still a work in progress.
Unfinished Business How much of a work-in-progress is v2.0? Map 06 (”Digi-Ota”) doesn’t have an exit yet, or the exit is inaccessible in the map’s current form. Be prepared to cheat, unless you can hack the map from v1.2.
Also, several maps don’t exist in the RC version (actually, they use a rather small, quick-and-dirty default map). Currently, they’re working on those maps.
Hopefully, they’ll be done faster than Duke Nukem Forever. But after some 13 years of development so far, I wouldn’t hold my breath just yet.
Conclusion. Killed before its time, HacX is one of those game mods that should have been bigger and better than what we got. Even with its few fans devoting themselves to elevating HacX to what it should be, it’s taking longer than Duke Nukem Forever did in development hell.
Despite its development problems, HacX is definitely one Doom 2 mod for cyberpunk fans, or anyone bored with the whole Doom/Heretic/Hexen demon-slaying fare.