Computer hacking, computer cracking; most people in the 21st century might already be familiar with these terms. As dreadful as they might seem to normal people, but hacking has been a highly explored topic in popular culture as seen in movies, sci-fi programs, video games and works of fiction. The roots of computer hacking can be traced back to the 20th century with the emergence of electronic computing devices and has been an integral part of the development of computer technology over the years. Nevertheless, exploiting loopholes in a system has always been a subject of controversy and shows how the term ‘complete security’ is merely an illusion of safety. Even though computer hackers aren’t seen as heroes, there are several works of fiction and popular media that can actually trigger your interest in the sci-fi esque world of computer hacking. Below is a list of some great video games, that include some form of computer hacking even though they’re far from real-time hacking.
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- Enter The Matrix
The 1999 Hollywood flick, The Matrix might be a highly fantasy-inspired take on when computers go horribly bad. Nevertheless, its deep storyline and the cinematic action took the whole world by storm. The 2003 video game Enter the Matrix, presents a side story that is a part of the Matrix canon and brings out a new perspective to the whole movie trilogy. Although the game is mostly played in a 3rd person perspective, there is a hacking system that is quite similar to what we saw in the movies. Codes need to be entered in a specific format, similar to Command Prompt found on Windows computers and requires little understanding of command line editing. This is used to unlock special features and weapons along with new gameplay modes.
- Watch Dogs
The game that revamped the cyberpunk genre along with raising several questions about our data privacy and security, Watchdogs is a must play game for any tech nerd out there. The game puts you in the shoes of a skilled computer hacker Aiden Pearce in a futuristic Chicago that is connected through an operating system termed “ctOS”. The player is supposed to hack into various computer terminals and devices across the city to complete various objectives, collect information and defeat enemies. This might not really be the best example of hacking, but the very concept that ‘the internet of things’ is vulnerable makes this game extremely enjoyable.
Most gamers would totally agree that Shadowrun on the Super Nintendo is still one of the most detailed Cyberpunk game to exist. Released back in 1993, Shadowrun is a detective/RPG that takes place in Washington DC set in the year 2050. Although the game is an adaptation of a tabletop role-playing game, it features a highly detailed storyline along with the ability to hack into computers. The hacking mini games aren’t about real hacking, but the effort put in by the player is quite similar. The player assumes control of the character named Jake Armitage who works as a ‘data courier’ who delivers computer programs that are stored in a microchip located in his brain and has lost his memories following a shootout. This synopsis alone is enough for most gamers to try out this definitive SNES classic.
- Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
The Matrix was certainly remembered for its over the top action and the futuristic depiction of a fight between humans and artificial intelligence. But the anime series that inspired it all, is definitely Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The plot involves a special police force in a futuristic Japan, where they attempt to stop and reduce the growing cyber crimes. Its spin-off game was released in 2004 for the Playstation 2 and involved advanced hacking features such as the ability to hack into cybernetically controlled enemies. While the gameplay was panned for being too generic, it is still a great title for the cyberpunk fans and provides an ‘entertaining if not fresh’ take on computer hacking.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
While the first game by the name Deus Ex was released back in 2000, it was Human Revolution from 2011 that made this game a must have for any nerd or cyberpunk fan. The story follows the exploits of Adam Jensen an ex-SWAT member who has been provided cybernetic augmentations that enhance his abilities. The game not only involves some highly tension filled stealth action moments, but also at an innovative take on computer hacking. The player must continually hack various terminals to access various areas in the game and obtain new items, upgrades and weapons.
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- Mass Effect 2
While purely an action-adventure title, the space age setting alone makes Mass Effect 2 a great game for sci-fi fans. The latest game in the series might have eliminated bypassing and hacking into system from the gameplay, but Mass Effect 2 is one of the best examples how hacking is portrayed in video games. Moreover, hacking in this game has been made a little challenging by limiting the amount of attempts, that will result in terminal lockdown upon failing. The game might be more popular due to its action elements but is still one of the best video game representations of futuristic computer hacking.
There are several video games that actually portray a more realistic take on computer hacking such as Uplink, EVA Online or the 1985 game “Hacker” that actually required you hack first and then play. The above list might not be anywhere close to real life computer hacking, but do provide you a highly entertaining mix of fiction, immersive gameplay and tremendous storytelling.